Computing Applications From the president

Making a Difference Through Computing Communities

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  • The ACM Professional Development Centre will provide free access to hundreds of Web-based courses for members.
  • The ACM Job Centre, part of the Career Resource Centre, allows members to conduct advanced searches of posted jobs and set up personal accounts to manage job searches.
  • The Online Guide to Computing Literature is now available to all members, allowing searches of the ACM Digital Library as well as much of the world of computing literature in one convenient place.
  • A new publication targeting software developers and engineers and IT professionals is coming early next year to frame and define the technical problems and challenges that loom ahead.

But there is much more that we, as computing professionals, should be doing to meet the challenges facing us today. We need to get more of us actively participating in projects and programs. We need to provide more opportunities for young professionals to get involved and build the leadership experience needed for their careers and our profession. We need to leverage the synergies among our diverse communities and activities.

Java Engagement for Teacher Training (JETT), a current initiative of ACM’s K–12 Education Task Force, is a good example of such synergies. JETT is aimed at helping high school computer science teachers make the transition from teaching in C++ to Java as required by the College Board for the 2003–04 year. As envisioned by its leaders, JETT will involve the participation of SIGs such as SIGPLAN in helping the Education Task Force in designing the learning materials, and will involve the ACM student chapters in offering Java workshops and mentoring to local teachers. JETT will provide leadership experience for students in the participating chapters, allowing them to develop greater confidence in their technical and teaching abilities and to make a substantial contribution to their local high schools. Similar programs elsewhere have proven helpful in retaining female and minority CS students at the post-secondary level. Moreover, involvement of students from under-represented groups as Java workshop leaders will demonstrate to high school teachers that these students can succeed in CS programs, encouraging the teachers to recruit more under-represented students to the field.

ACM is an ideal vehicle for computing professionals to give something back to society while honing leadership skills. Chapters, SIGs, contests, publications, educational activities, and policy initiatives provide a broad range of channels. We can be ambassadors, reaching out to our colleagues, our peers, and proteges, and encouraging them to get involved. There are many opportunities where we can make an important difference whether acting within a single computing community or by bringing our communities together.

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