Computer science and engineering holiday happenings

AngelTree_2014Cheery faces and warm and fuzzy feelings animate the Department of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) administration office on the third floor of the H.R. Bright Building (HRBB) on the Texas A&M University campus as the room fills with presents for Brazos Valley children. A Salvation Army Angel Tree, a favorite symbol of holiday giving across the cities of the Brazos Valley, sits in front of the reception desk sheltering gifts of toys, games, bikes, and clothes.

"The response from the department faculty and staff was great, but the response from the students was phenomenal," said Engineering Organizational Services Manager Kathy Waskom. "We had three students, one undergraduate and two graduate, solely sponsor children. Along with all the donated items, we were able to raise $700 to purchase more items. It's great to see CSE passionately involved in community activities.

CSE's holiday happenings and community outreach actually began in November with its Angel Tree collection and its Time to Give Thanks CSE Potluck community meal, hosted by the Computer Science and Engineering Graduate Students Association (CSEGSA) for all CSE students and staff. Everyone attending was asked to bring a dish to share, with the department providing the set-up and drinks. Thanks were given for the continuing success of CSE.

dave_dilma_awardThe December kick-off of holiday celebrations started on the 4th with an off-campus Holiday Luncheon for CSE faculty, staff, and invited guests from the Look College of Engineering. Guests enjoyed a family-style meal of salad, Nonna's lasagna, eggplant rollantini, chicken Parmesan, and dessert at Paolo's Italian Kitchen in College Station while delicious and delightful Christmas presents were enthusiastically raffled off by staff elves.

During the luncheon, PC Analyst Dave Cote was presented the Staff Excellence Award by Department Head Dr. Dilma Da Silva for his dedicated service, exemplary attitude, and significant contribution to the department. Cited at the top of the many examples of his service was Dave's immediate handling this fall of the computer needs for all the newly hired faculty and staff, which he did with competence and cordiality. In October, Dave was an integral part of the computer setup at Texas A&M for 26 of the 36 teams participating in the 2014 ACM ICPC South Central USA Regional Programming Contest.

ACE_lunch_11DEC2014The following week, the Aggie Computer Science and Engineering (ACE) Scholars Program held its holiday luncheon for its members and the CSE faculty. Approximately 30 students and 20 faculty enjoyed a festive lunch of grilled chicken, vegetables, and spinach enchiladas catered by Abuelo's Mexican Restaurant in College Station. The luncheon gave the ACE Scholars the opportunity to interact with faculty and to discover mutual research interests. All ACE Scholars participate in an intensive undergraduate research experience, culminating in an Honors Thesis.

holiday_fun_dayThen there's the department's impromptu "End of the Semester, We Survived Finals, Let's Get Ready for the Holidays Celebration" held the day before graduation and hosted by CSE and its student organizations. It was a come-when-you-can held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the administration offices on the third floor of HRBB. All were dressed in their craziest holiday apparel from tacky sweaters to Christmas pajamas. Hot cocoa and cookies accompanied classic Christmas movies and board games (Clue, Candyland, Monopoly, Operation et al.).

CSE said goodbye to these spirited holiday happenings and to all its fall semester students with its graduation reception for its students receiving bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees on December 19.

Happy Holidays Everyone!