The popularity of computer science in general, and in the Computer Science and Engineering department at UC San Diego as a hot destination for graduating high school seniors, resulted in a record number of applications from students eager to become part of CSE’s freshman class in September. As reported in January, more than 5,200 students took the time and trouble to apply for Fall 2014 – up 38% from a year earlier – even though it was already clear that it would be a tight race to get in this year. Now, according to UC San Diego admissions figures released on April 18, CSE has offered freshman admission this fall to more than 1,200 applicants, up 44% from last year’s ‘admits’. Yet far fewer will show up in September.
The department is not expecting the cohort of incoming students to be very different from the 200 first-year undergraduates who made up the freshman class for the 2013-14 academic year. (Shown above, UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla at right, with some of the incoming freshmen who showed up in August 2013 to get an early taste of CSE and campus life in the department's residential Summer Program for Incoming Students, or SPIS.). Many applicants to CSE are among the highest-ranking applicants to UC San Diego, so a large number will end up selecting a different top school on their wish list. Furthermore, there is a limit on the number of students that CSE can let in. “Two-hundred students is the upper limit set by impaction,” says CSE Chair Rajesh Gupta (pictured below), referring to the current cap on the number of students allowed to major in computer science or computer engineering, to prevent overcrowding. “As a result, even with nearly 400 more admits than last year, the department is expecting to welcome roughly the same actual number of freshmen [this September] as last year.”
Assuming that the freshman class is limited to 200 students, they would represent only 4% of the applicant pool this year. Students who were admitted to UCSD but not allowed to major in computer science or computer engineering could still come – they would just have to switch to a non-impacted major.
Although admission statistics are not an accurate reflection of the number of freshmen arriving on campus, they can be illustrative in relative terms. For example, this year at least one out of four students offered admission to the Jacobs School of Engineering was offered admission to CSE, which accounts for 5% of total campus-wide admits. Comparing departments based on the largest number of admission offers, the top three for Fall 2014 were, in order, Economics, CSE, and Mathematics. (The comparison excludes the Division of Biological Sciences, whose admission figures were published at the divisional rather than departmental level.)
With the jump in applications this year, the CSE department is preparing for a rising tide of freshmen over the next few years. "The department has planned to offer nearly 190 courses throughout the year, compared to a rated capacity of 142,” says the CSE chair. “We have hired lecturers and professors to meet the demand, but we’re also gated by the availability of class-room space." As Gupta recalls, last fall CSE classes occupied every single lecture hall on the campus with 200-or-more capacity for two days of the week.
Meanwhile, campus officials are tabulating admission figures for transfer students. What we know so far is that, like with incoming freshmen, applications were through the roof: up nearly 50% to 1,110 for this fall, with one in every three applicants to the Jacobs School applying to CSE. Admission figures for transfer students are due soon.
Looking to the campus overall, the university anticipates enrolling a diverse freshman class of 4,900 students with an average 4.13 GPA (up fractionally from a year ago).
“We are proud to welcome this bright and dynamic group of students to UC San Diego,” says Khosla. “As a student-centered public university, it is our goal to provide opportunities and a world-class education to these amazingly accomplished and talented students from diverse backgrounds.”
UC San Diego has offered admission to 9% more students who are the first in their family to attend college, and to 4% more students from historically underrepresented backgrounds. Compared to a year ago, admission letters went out to approximately 8% more Chicano/Latino students – the fastest-growing ethnic group among California high school graduates – offsetting a drop in the number of African-American applicants offered admission compared to Fall 2013.
Graduating high school students now have until May 1 to indicate whether they will attend UC San Diego this fall, but it’s not until the freshmen arrive that the department will get a precise fix on the size of CSE’s Class of ’18.
For anyone who missed the recent Big Data at Work Symposium in March, now you can watch it on-demand. Two of the four speakers are CSE faculty members: Prof. Stefan Savage and Prof. Larry Smarr. Savage was the security expert on the panel, warning that there are substantial security risks when data becomes Big Data, but he also expanded on the potential opportunities inherent in the growth of Big Data (including for CSE graduates who specialize in cybersecurity!). For his part, Smarr – who directs Calit2 as well – addressed the overall impact of Big Data, especially in health care sector, as millions of Americans join the ranks of the 'quantitative health' movement (like Smarr himself) generating petabytes of data to help the patient and his or her doctor manage the patient's health on a 24/7 basis. The event continues to receive rave reviews, and now there are two ways to watch the one-hour program: it's available immediately on UCTV's website. Alternatively, it will begin airing during the week of April 21 on the UCTV channel itself (with the first primetime showing planned for 9pm April 24). Set your DVR, or watch the complete edited video online at the link below.
In its April 14 edition, the UTSanDiego featured an article about "Scientists set to roam the world" this summer. "If you toss a dart at a map of the world, there's a good chance it'll land in a region where scientists from San Diego County will do research this summer," wrote science editor Gary Robbins, adding that "summer field research is a cherished part of science." Case in point: the first researcher featured in the article was CSE Prof. Ryan Kastner, who is photographed (at right) displaying an underwater stereo camera system that he developed for producing 3D reconstructions of underwater objects. Kastner "will use high-resolution imaging tools in June to help archaeologists map Mayan ruins in Guatemala and a sunken ship in Lake Tahoe's Emerald Bay Underwater Park," according to the article. Kastner will be joined on the Lake Tahoe expedition by undergraduate participants in the Engineers for Exploration program, which is co-directed by Kastner.
Results of a new study led by CSE alumnus Jacob Whitehill (Ph.D., '12) demonstrates that a real-time, automatic method for identifying and analyzing facial expressions can perform with an accuracy comparable to that of human observers when tracking how engaged students are in the classroom. (Pictured at left: Student engagement levels are tracked in real time by the automatic system for recognizing facial expressions; photo copyright 2014 IEEE.) The study also revealed that engagement levels were a better predictor of students' post-test performance that the students' pre-test scores.
Whitehill is the first author on the paper "The Faces of Engagement: Automatic Recognition of Student Engagement," which was published April 15 in the early online edition of the journal IEEE Transactions on Affective Computing. Whitehill -- who now works at Emotient, Inc., a startup he co-founded with the paper's senior author, Javier Movellan -- did much of his work on the study while part of the Machine Perception Laboratory in Calit2's Qualcomm Institute (co-directed by Movellan). The project was funded, in part, by the UCSD-based Temporal Dynamics of Learning Center (TDLC), led by CSE Prof. Gary Cottrell. TDLC also enabled the key partnership between Movellan and another co-author on the paper, Virginia Commonwealth professor of developmental psychology Zewelanji Serpell, because both are PIs on TDLC's Social Interaction Network. In addition to Movellan, Whitehill and Serpell, the study’s co-authors include Yi-Ching Lin and Aysha Foster from the department of psychology at Virginia State.
“Automatic recognition of student engagement could revolutionize education by increasing understanding of when and why students get disengaged,” said Whitehill (pictured below right). “Automatic engagement detection provides an opportunity for educators to adjust their curriculum for higher impact, either in real time or in subsequent lessons. Automatic engagement detection could be a valuable asset for developing adaptive educational games, improving intelligent tutoring systems and tailoring massive open online courses, or MOOCs.”
The study consisted of training an automatic detector, which measures how engaged a student appears in a webcam video while undergoing cognitive skills training on an iPad®. The study used automatic expression recognition technology to analyze students’ facial expressions on a frame-by-frame basis and estimate their engagement level. “This study is one of the most thorough to date in the application of computer vision and machine learning technologies for automatic student engagement detection,” said Javier Movellan. “The possibilities for its application in education and beyond are tremendous. By understanding what parts of a lecture, conversation, game, advertisement or promotion produced different levels of engagement, an individual or business can obtain valuable feedback to fine-tune the material to something more impactful.”