UMBC CSEE Professor Penny Rheingans received an NSF research award, Transforming the Freshman Experience of Computing Majors, to develop and evaluate an innovative first-year seminar for computing majors aimed at increasing retention, completion, and success among students, especially women and those from underrepresented groups. Dr. Rheingans will serve as the principal investigator for the three year, project that will also include Drs. Marie desJardins (CSEE), Carolyn Seaman (IS) and Susan Martin (CWIT).

The seminar will combine elements from successful first-year engineering courses, introductory computing courses, general first-year seminars and the new AP CS Principles course to give new computing majors an overview of the discipline, foundational technical skills, a group design experience and relevant professional development. The highly interactive and learner-centered course will be delivered by a team of computing professors, staff with student affairs experience, and undergraduate peer mentors and teachers. The project will also include regional workshops to share course materials and insights with computing faculty from local two and four-year institutions.