A new research and service unit has joined the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) at The University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) — Expanding Pathways in Computing (EPIC) — adding to TACC's portfolio of educational programs for students and community members of all ages.
Formed with staff from a number of successful computational training programs at UT Austin, EPIC puts a new emphasis on training Computer Science (CS) teachers in Texas schools.
"At TACC, we see every day how critically important a computationally literate workforce is to the science and engineering research enterprise, and to the broader economy," said TACC Executive Director Dan Stanzione. "With the addition of EPIC to our existing, student-focused programs, we have a more holistic approach to bringing computing to the Texas workforce."
EPIC's mission is to broaden participation in kindergarten through graduate-level computing through research, outreach, professional development, and policy advocacy. EPIC is particularly committed to expanding access and opportunity for traditionally underrepresented students in computing.
"We're excited to be part of TACC," said Carol Fletcher, EPIC's director. "We're now embedded with people that have the disciplinary expertise in areas such as supercomputing, artificial intelligence, and data visualization that will support the work that we do in computing education. TACC embraces the mission of broadening participation in computing which makes the two organizations very complimentary."
The EPIC group at TACC is committed to increasing the number of certified CS teachers in Texas through a range of online and in-person teacher professional development programs; increasing the number of high schools across Texas that offer CS; and diversifying student enrollment to ensure traditionally underrepresented students such as women and students of color are equally represented in CS courses and experiences.
Since 2015, the WeTeach_CS project, a component of EPIC, has helped more than 500 Texas teachers complete their certification in high school computer science. EPIC is replicating this success in other states as well.
In its goal to create a strong community of teachers, administrators, university faculty, and industry partners, the EPIC group offers the following research and service projects:
- WeTeach_CS Training K-12 educators in Texas and nationally to improve access to high-quality Computer Science experiences for a broad and diverse range of students.
- ECEP (Expanding Computing Education Pathways) Alliance Supporting a national network of CS education leaders from 22 states and Puerto Rico focused on policy change that leads to broadening participation in computing.
- AWSM (Accelerating Women's Success and Mastery) in CS Facilitating a networked improvement community of 23 secondary computing teachers focused on increasing access and participation of young women in computing courses.
- Project ROCS (Rural Opportunities in Computer Science) Researching diversity in CS to develop a framework for collecting and reporting outcome measures that accurately portray equity in K-12 computer science education, especially for students in rural communities.
- Lone Star STEM Partnering with the Texas Education Agency, Educate Texas, and Jobs for the Future to build educator capacity in high school computer science, cybersecurity and STEM.
- Evaluation Services Assisting researchers and practitioners with rigorous, high-quality external evaluation services that are customized to serve the unique needs of clients in PreK-12 school systems, higher education, non-profit organizations, corporations, and government agencies.
- Technology Services Designing and supporting a wide variety of custom web applications to assist in operational processes needed to run an effective research, service, governmental, or non-profit organization.
"With the launch of EPIC, TACC will expand its already impressive leadership in equity-focused CS outreach," Fletcher said. "Our team is pleased to help TACC become a national model for effective integration of high performance computing and broadening participation efforts in all educational levels."
To learn more about EPIC, please visit the EPIC website.