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A Taste of Computing for Good

December 7, 2012

The Computing for Good class is offered to undergraduates as an alternate option to their Senior Design Capstone class. In this class, we apply all our skills and more to use computing to do good for the world. It is a unique opportunity for computer science students to become heroes and help solve various problems faced all over the world ranging from chronic homelessness to the autistic disorder. While the projects speak for themselves through the difference they are making in the world, I would like to share a slice of the experience of the class on why it is like no other and how it transformed the lives of many who took this class.

As a Computer Science major at Georgia Tech, we learn many important skills and principles like programming, design architecture, evaluation and presentation from various classes. Computing for Good tests us with all these at the same time. While we are mentored by our professors, we directly interact with our partners thus we are being tested in a real world environment. For me, I remember my team’s very first meeting with our partner, the United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta. We went in to discuss what their need was and by the end of an hour and a half, we came out of a professional meeting with a project we had planned out with our partner. This was a great validation for all of us on the team because we saw a purpose for ourselves in the real world beyond classes and assignments.

A couple of months since that meeting, we have come up with a working system that stores and reports data on the homeless in Atlanta and determines how much at risk a person is on the streets based on the health conditions. We are now finishing up our prototype that went through many iterations based on feedback from partner evaluations. We see our system and feel very proud of it. It is something we can share and explain to people from all walks of life knowing that everyone can relate to our work.

Thus, I can say that the Computing for Good class is the kitchen that cooks all the fine ingredients we have picked from Georgia Tech to a delicious and sumptuous meal thereby being able to share our work with others. We are pushed to reach goals we thought we would never reach and our outlook on everything Computer Science-related is changed for good. If you don’t believe me, take the class and you’ll see for yourself.

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