Women In Tech Hosts Successful Google Career Panel

The University of San Francisco’s Women in Technology (WiT) hosted a successful career panel in April 2024, featuring a diverse group of accomplished women from Google. The panelists, Debra Pinzon-Hamilton (Director of Scaled Service Delivery), Preeta Banerji (Head of IT Operations, Program Management), Ruchi Shah (Director Enterprise Infrastructure Protection ), and Gassia Salibian (Senior User Experience Research / Design), shared their unique career journeys and insights with aspiring technologists. The panel was well-organized and moderated by WiT Co-President Aklile Tesfaye, who posed thoughtful questions focusing on professional growth and personal well-being. The panelists emphasized the importance of networking, embracing change, and being open to new opportunities. They also highlighted the versatility of a CS/tech degree and the various avenues it can open up beyond traditional software development roles. Feedback from the students was overwhelmingly positive, with many appreciating the diversity of the panelists and the eye-opening discussions on bridging CS with other STEM and non-STEM areas of interest. The event’s welcoming space encouraged participation and allowed students to connect with the panelists after the session.

Here are the student and panelists’ feedback:

Eva DeThomas, undergrad CS student:“Thank you so much for putting it together, I really respect all the work you’ve been doing for the community and appreciate the opportunities you’ve brought to us. The panel was great! It was nice to hear from women in tech with a variety of backgrounds and values. I really appreciated their emphasis on the importance of networking, keeping an open mind when it comes to new opportunities and their experience working through challenges. Their stories were extremely inspiring and I am looking forward to more panels in the future.”

Teresa Mei, graduate CS student: “This panel taught me not to be afraid of change and to try out new opportunities, the importance of networking and to always be open to learning new skills. Overall event was amazing. You did a wonderful job and it was helpful that you reiterated what the panelist said because it gave another chance to let their words sink in. I love how you sent them the questions beforehand so they were prepared and we got to benefit from that. I also enjoyed how each guest had different backgrounds and experiences and how their current roles are different from one another, that way we were able to learn a lot more.”

Jade Hao, undergrad CS student: “Truly such a nice event that you planned/organized. What I really enjoyed the most about the panel was the diversity of panlist that were present. Overall, I think it was an eye-opening experience to see how diverse the CS field is giving a new perspective on how versatile a CS/tech degree can be. I think oftentimes there is a misconception about being a CS major and being confined to only being a software developer/web developer (which aren’t bad but I feel are often highlighted when discussing jobs). It gave way for a discussion of bridging other STEM and non-STEM subjects with CS, and allowing myself and my friends to look into other avenues. Secondly, I really enjoyed the effort and attention that it took to organize something such as this. The event itself didn’t feel rushed or look that way, as well as the marketing for the event was great! I was looking forward to it since I heard a lot of other people talking about it and being excited to meet and talk to tech professionals. I feel the event was a great way to get a more personal look into the tech world. I really enjoyed the size of the panel and the amount of people in attendance. I find that usually there is a lot of overcrowding during recruiting events and oftentimes it’s hard to ask questions, with the Google Panel I felt not as stressed or nervous to ask questions and the atmosphere was welcoming”

Caterina Ponti, undergrad CS student: “Regarding the Google career panel, I really appreciated how detailed the Instagram post was. Through it, I was able to learn more about the guest speakers and get very excited about the event. Thanks to this information, I was able to learn about future prospective jobs and decided to talk to one of the panelists at the end of the event. The panel discussion felt very personal and I felt encouraged to engage with the speakers.”

Panelist: “Panel was organized perfectly and the panel moderation was very insightful and well prepared with helpful and meaningful questions. Students were engaging and made great connections with us after the panel. They got a chance to ask more questions and connect with us over LinkedIn. We are happy the turn out of this event and with the impact it had on the community”

We are so lucky to have our amazing club leaders put on these wonderful events for their community to inspire other students on their career journeys. A big thank you to Women in Tech and Aklile for hosting such an informative and engaging event.

Casino Night

This semester, November 1st was Casino Night for the Computer Science 112 classes.

CS Night

For the first big class project, students designed and wrote Java software programs to play the card game “Acey Deucey”.  The programs did not implement programs for people to play—the students’ programs were the players, following game rules, optimizing playing strategy, and placing bets for maximum success.  Unlike in Las Vegas, card counting was encouraged, to maximize the likelihood of winning.

Acey Deucey is a simple but fun card game in which each player in turn gets two cards, and must bet on whether the third dealt card will come between the first two.  But watch out—if the third card matches one of the first two cards, you must pay double your bet.

During the tournament, about 25 students brought their programs to play against each other in real time.  Programs communicated via WiFi with a central card dealer program, and the crew was able to play thousands of games in just a few minutes.  While enjoying pizza and leftover Halloween candy, students were talking smack about their great performances and were making side bets with their friends about whose program would stay in the tournament the longest.

Three separate rounds produced three winners, who enjoyed some small prizes and big bragging rights.


A Fall Semester Welcome from Professor Brooks


Welcome to the Fall 2023 semester in Computer Science here at USF! Now
that the Labor Day holiday has passed and we’ve traded those last foggy
days of summer for the beautiful autumn afternoons and sunsets, it’s
time to rededicate ourselves to our work.

This is a really exciting time to study Computer Science. Computing is a
fundamental part of almost everything in our lives these days, whether
it’s AI helping to write your emails, choose your playlists or park your
car, or sensors controlling the environment for us, or the many servers
and databases that store all of our personal, medical and educational
records. The world is changing rapidly, and the rate of change is just
as quick; we are truly at the elbow of exponential growth.

But making that change work for everyone requires deep thought, care,
and wisdom. It’s not only building amazing things, but also
understanding the fundamental problems that need solving, empathizing
with those who are most vulnerable, and asking how we might best work to
create a better world through technology.

This is why I love USF, and why I think the education we offer is so
special and unique. We have the chance to integrate all of these
incredible tools with a vision to create a more humane and just world
and to be computer scientists with a purpose. I’m really excited to
continue our journey together this year, and to have you all as a part of
our community.

A Blackjack Tournament for CS 112

CS 112 Blackjack Tournament
Professors Paul Haskell and Subbu Subramanian and their CS 112 students during the tournament

For the first big project in this Fall’s CS 112 course, professors Subbu Subramanian and Paul Haskell offered their students the option to develop a Java program that plays the card game Blackjack.  The software did not to give a human player a game to play, but rather acted as a player itself—choosing bets and deciding whether to hit, stand, split pairs, or double down.  Each student’s game communicated in real time over a WiFi network with a central program that acted as the game Dealer. The students’ programs placed bets, received cards, and made plays virtually over the campus computer network.

The evening of November 2nd, all the CS 112 classes combined to hold a Blackjack Tournament.  Over pizzas and snacks, the students pitted their games against each other, and against the Dealer, to see how well they played.  The results were exciting for players and spectators alike.  The students’ programs played almost 100 hands of Blackjack per second, and each game lasted about 10,000 hands.  With initial stakes of $500 each, the software players were able to win and lose over $100,000 per game before the champions finally lost their last chip.  A video shows one game’s progress, with students’ virtual piles of chips growing and shrinking based on their programs’ decisions and the luck of the cards.

CS 112 is the first or second college programming course most students have taken, so this was a particularly demanding project.  Students’ programs ranged from a few hundred lines of Java code to almost 2000 lines.  Most students programmed in Blackjack strategies researched online and tweaked through testing.  The programs counted cards to determine when Blackjacks were likeliest.  One program even developed a Neural Network to decide on the best way to play.

CS Career Prep Course Leads to USF Alum’s Startup

Rong Liew, USF MSCS 2020 alum recently founded and launched Showwcase, an all-in-one platform for tech workers. We caught up with Rong to learn about his journey, from class idea to a new startup hiring Software Engineers, Data Analysts, Internships, and Design.

How did Showwcase start?

Showwcase was an idea that started in class LS307. Taking Professor Jon Rahoi’s Career Prep course, it was a weekly activity for us to go through resumes in class, with the goal of improving each student’s chance of landing that dream job. The issue, however, was that everyone had a different resume format, had no idea what to include, had dozens of resumes stored on their laptops (without a version control system to manage this), and ultimately, that resumes were not representative of the skills, knowledge, and abilities, possessed by our classmates. Continue reading “CS Career Prep Course Leads to USF Alum’s Startup”

Jobs & Internships

Despite the unique challenges our students and recent alumni faced this spring and summer with job and internship searches, we are thrilled with the success of our students and alumni. Below are just some of the companies where our students interned as well as the companies our alumni recently joined as new, permanent employees. You can find many more USF CS alum on our LinkedIn page here!

Where our students interned!

Where our recent alum are now!

Fall 2020 Faculty Research & Publications Update

USF Computer Science faculty are not only fantastic teachers, but are active researchers. Below are some research publications and other work that our faculty have completed so far this year. If you would like to learn more about their research, join us every Tuesday this fall at 9AM (PDT) for our new Research Seminar (contact Gian Bruno for details and zoom link).

David Guy Brizan – Research Publications

  1. A Badgujar, S Chen, A Wang, K Yu, P Intrevado, DG Brizan, “Quantum Criticism: A Tagged News Corpus Analysed for Sentiment and Named Entities,” Natural Language Computing Advances (NLCA) 2020.
  2. K Sonar, P Intrevado, DG Brizan, “The Seven Critical Axes of Information For Yelp Restaurant Reviews,” in International Conference on Machine Learning and Applications (ICMLA) 2020.
  3. A Badgujar, S Chen, P Khambatta, T Tran, A Wang, K Yu, P Intrevado, DG Brizan, “QUANTUM CRITICISM: AN ANALYSIS OF POLITICAL NEWS REPORTING,” Machine Learning and Applications (MLAIJ) 2020.

Patricia Francis-Lyon – Research Publications

Jeff Johnson – New Book Edition

Kristin Jones – Digital Humanities Collaborations

  • The Berkeley Revolution: my 100% custom WordPress website for Prof. Scott Saul’s American Lit class at UC Berkeley.
  • The Oakland Artists Project: I heavily customized an existing WordPress theme for Professors Ajuan Mance and Kirsten Saxton at Mills College (for a Digital Humanities class that I also previously co-taught with them).

Alark Joshi – Research Publications

  • Thanawut Ananpiriyakul, Josh Anghel, Kristi Potter, Alark Joshi, “A Gaze-Contingent System for Foveated Multiresolution Visualization of Vector and Volumetric Data,” Visualization and Data Analysis 2020 1 (02), 1-10
  • Alark Joshi, Marissa Schmidt, Shane Panter, Amit Jain, “Evaluating the benefits of Team-Based Learning in a Systems Programming Class,” Frontiers in Education 2020.
  • Preim, Bernhard, and Alark Joshi. “Evaluation of visualization systems with long-term case studies.” In Foundations of Data Visualization, pp. 195-208. Springer, Cham, 2020.

Sophie Engle – Research Publications

  • Sophie Engle, Sami Rollins, Gian Bruno, Xornam Apedoe, Matthew Malensek, Christina Tzagarakis-Foster, Alark Joshi, “Engendering Community to Computer Science Freshmen through an Early Arrival Program, ” American Society for Engineering Education 2020. 
  • Darius Coelho, Rubin Trailor, Daniel Sill, Sophie Engle, Alark Joshi, Serge Mankovskii, Maria Velez-Rojas, Steven Greenspan, and Klaus Mueller, “”Blockchain for Collaborative Visual Analytics”, 17th International Conference on Cooperative Design, Visualization, and Engineering, 2020.

Professor Jung – Conference Presentation

  • Discrepancy Detection in Whole Network Provenance (Raza Ahmad (SRI International), Eunjin Jung (University of San Francisco), Carolina de Senne Garcia (Ecole Polytechnique), Hassaan Irshad (SRI International), Ashish Gehani (SRI International)). The Theory and Practice of Provenance (TaPP) workshop 2020 

Haden Lee – Research Publications

  • Haden Hooyeon Lee, “More Personalized Learning by Reducing Latency in Grading,” In Proceedings of the 16th Annual ACM International Computing Education Research (ICER) Conference (ACM ICER 2020), August 2020, (To Appear).

Vahab Pournaghshband

  • Professor Vahab Pournaghshband recently had his paper, Promoting Diversity-Inclusive Computer Science Pedagogies: A Multidimensional Perspective accepted into ACM ITICSE202 [Link Here]
  • Vahab Pournaghshband and Paola Medel, “Promoting Diversity-Inclusive Computer Science Pedagogies: A Multidimensional Perspective,” In Proceedings of 25th ACM Conference on Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education (ITiCSE), June 2020.
  • Vahab Pournaghshband and Hassan Pournaghshband, “A Project-Based Approach to Teach Security Concepts in Introductory Courses,” In Proceedings of the Consortium for Computing Sciences in Colleges Rocky Mountain (CCSC-RM 2020), October 2020, (To Appear).
  • Vahab Pournaghshband and Hassan Pournaghshband, “Entailing Security Mindset in Foundational CS Courses: An Interactive Approach,” In Proceedings of the Consortium for Computing Sciences in Colleges Midwestern (CCSC-MW 2020), September 2020, (To Appear).
  • Vahab Pournaghshband and Peter Reiher, “Protecting Legacy Mobile Medical Devices Using A Wearable Security Device,” In Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on Computer Networks & Data Communications (CNDC), December 2019.
  • Paul Kirth and Vahab Pournaghshband, “PLDetect: A Testbed for Middlebox Detection using PlanetLab,” In Proceedings of the 12th EAI International Conference on Testbeds and Research Infrastructures for the Development of Networks & Communities (TRIDENTCOM), December 2019.

Benjamin Wells – New Research

  • This is a result in word combinatorics showing that no substitution instance of a certain string occurs in a famous squarefree sequence (the Leech sequence) that uses three letters.

Dave Wolber – Book Chapter

Craig Newmark makes generous donation to University of San Francisco’s Women in Tech initiative 2020

The University of San Francisco’s (USF) Women in Tech initiative is thrilled to announce an incredibly generous $300,000 gift from Craig Newmark, the founder of Craigslist and Craig Newmark Philanthropies. This extraordinary gift is a continuation of Newmark’s longstanding commitment to supporting gender equality in technology. His goal is to help more women become interested in coding early on in their educational careers and to aid in the fostering of an inclusive environment for all women in tech. 

Craig Newmark’s donation will directly impact six areas across Computer Science, Data Science, and Engineering for both undergraduate and graduate students at USF. These are:

  • $100,000 in Scholarships: these scholarships make all the difference as to whether women can continue their studies and are prioritized for students with the highest need.
  • $75,000 Research Opportunities for Women and Veterans: these funds pay women and military veterans to work on important research problems in tech. Studies have shown that when women in tech carry out research with professors, this leads to higher retention in technical fields.
  • $50,000 Academic Conference Attendance: these funds enable women in tech to participate in life-changing conferences such as Grace Hopper, and other conferences such as Tapia, Lesbian Who Tech, and Afro Tech. Students receive internships and jobs at these conferences which change their lives!
  • $35,000 Growth of Women in Tech (WiT) student organization: The Women in Tech student organization is the lifeblood of all of these activities. Through peer network support and mentorship, workshops on technical resumes, technical interviews, the annual hackathon, weekly meetings, and much more, WiT helps the recruitment, retention of women and minority students in Computer Science, Data Science, and now the new Engineering department.
  • $25,000 Summer Zero for Women in Engineering: this provides funding for three women to participate in the first Summer Zero program, a 6-week student academic program that aims to retain women and underrepresented groups in the newly launched engineering program, while providing academic support and reinforcement in math, design, programming, and writing.
  • $15,000 Girl Tech Power Coding Camp: this provides funding for middle and high school girls to learn programming with professors and students from the Computer Science department at the University of San Francisco.




Community Engaged Scholars


The Department of Computer Science welcomed their first cohort of Community-Engaged Scholars (CES) this past fall semester. CES is funded through the National Science Foundation and is a four-year scholarship program designed to support academically talented, low-income students.

The program started with a one-week, residential summer program. Students participated in day-long sessions with faculty and guest lecturers, were introduced to foundational topics in CS, campus and departmental resources, and the resources available from the technical community in the SF Bay area. Students also had the opportunity to explore San Francisco through field trips.

The program continued in the fall semester with a seminar taught by Professor Sophie Engle. This course featured activities including faculty research talks; presentations by the campus career center and similar organizations; field trips to local meetup events; and opportunities for the scholars to socialize and build relationships with one another.

To learn more about the program, visit https://scholars.cs.usfca.edu/.