DUCA in the News

STEM Articles

  • Women Deterred From Many Fields by Stereotypes of ‘Brilliance’ Jan. 15, 2015 Bloomberg

Jonathan Paulson, a 2008 graduate of the former Pennsylvania Governor’s School of Information, Society and Technology (PGSIST), now known as the Drexel University Computing Academy (DUCA), was the recipient of a bronze medal at the International Collegiate Programming Contest (ACM-ICPC), held July 3, 2013 in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Jonathan participated as a member of the Carnegie Mellon University team which earned the title of North American champions at the competition, placing 11th out of 120 teams present (representing a total of 23 countries). Jonathan also participated in the Software Development track which was supervised by Drexel faculty and staff members Dr. Bruce Char (Professor, Computer Science), John Dougherty (Assistant Director, Cooperative Education at Drexel University), and Jeffrey Popyack (Associate Professor, Computer Science). He graduates this year from Carnegie Mellon with a B.S. in Computer Science and Mathematics.

DUCA—an outgrowth of PGSIST (hosted at Drexel from 1998 through 2008)—is a five-week, residential, summer computing program for high school sophomores and juniors which promotes interest in information technology, computer science, business, and digital arts and media.

The 2013 DUCA class includes over 45 students, hailing from as far as California and Puerto Rico.

DUCA students do not focus on one specific area of computing. Rather, the program has a more holistic approach to education, exposing students to a variety of fields in computing through interactive, group projects. This year’s DUCA projects cover topics such as human computer interaction, ubiquitous computing, computer Science, software engineering, information systems, interaction design, and digital media.

Summer camp – the term used to evoke images of log cabins, bunk beds, canoeing, campfires and bug spray. In recent years, however, students have sought summer programs through which they can develop new skills that will serve them in college and beyond. 2010 marks the second year of one such program – Drexel University Computing Academy – which meets the needs of students interested in computing and technology.

Drexel University Computing Academy (DUCA) is not your typical summer camp.

Co-sponsored by the iSchool at Drexel, College of Information Science and Technology and Drexel University’s Department of Computer Science, DUCA is a five-week residential program that immerses high-school students in the college experience. Students live in dorms, dine at university facilities, and take courses with Drexel faculty.

“We have some exciting changes coming to DUCA’s curriculum this year,” said Executive Director Brenda Sheridan. “Collaboration with all computing-related degree programs throughout Drexel University has led to the design of a program that is stimulating, fun and highly educational. Our goal is to excite students about careers in STEM [science, technology, engineering, math], and the program’s new curriculum will teach them about the many opportunities that are available.”

The curriculum is designed to expand students’ knowledge and understanding in all areas of computer studies including information systems, networks, software development, robotics, game design, information security, animation and human-computer interaction through interactive classes, group projects and hands-on labs. This program is fully immersive, with students spending six hours a day in various classes and labs. Evenings and weekends feature special activities and field trips, including historical tours of Philadelphia, Phillies games, and movie nights.

“This is a great opportunity to experience what college is really like,” said Jeff Popyack, head of DUCA’s Academic Council. “It’s a lot more revealing than an overnight visit. In many ways it’s a microcosm of the freshman experience. Students get a close-up view of information science, information technology, software engineering and computer-science college programs.”

The curriculum is designed to enhance students’ critical thinking, sharpen their leadership skills and teach effective collaboration. Throughout DUCA, students participate in team projects, which they independently develop and manage, exploring how computing and information technology can be used to solve societal problems. Applied knowledge is the key to developing a deep understanding of the subject matter, and these projects foster global awareness and demonstrate how students can use what they have through DUCA. Examples of past projects include a computer application designed to help farmers manage their fields, a system created to enhance medical record-keeping in emergencies and an educational system developed to teach reading and arithmetic to children through computer games.

The iSchool at Drexel, College of Information Science and Technology and Drexel University’s Department of Computer Science are at the helm of DUCA’s curricular development, and the program gets academic support from other colleges within Drexel University through a newly formed Academic Council. The council comprises representatives from the iSchool, the College of Engineering, Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts and Design, and the Bennett S. LeBow College of Business.

DUCA is an outgrowth of the Pennsylvania Governor’s School for Information, Society and Technology (PGSIST), which was hosted at Drexel from 1998 through 2008. In February 2009 funding for PGSIST was eliminated, one of many programs affected by sweeping state budget cuts. DUCA was developed as an alternative program to meet the demand for a quality summer educational experience for college-bound high-school sophomores and juniors.

“When budget cuts were announced, calls and e-mails from students and parents started coming in,” said iSchool Dean David E. Fenske. “There is a demand for a program that is educational and helps students develop skills they will take with them beyond high school. DUCA was developed to meet that demand.”

DUCA is a tuition-based program. The fee includes tuition, room, board, instructional materials and program activities for all participants. To encourage students to further pursue careers in computing and technology, DUCA students who successfully complete the five-week program are eligible for an annual renewable scholarship should they enroll at Drexel University.

To learn more about Drexel University Computing Academy visit www.drexel.edu/duca.

Co-sponsored by The iSchool at Drexel, College of Information Science and Technology and Drexel University’s Department of Computer Science, DUCA is a five-week residential program that immerses high school students in the college experience. The curriculum is designed to expand students’ knowledge and understanding in all areas of computer studies including information systems, networks, software development, robotics, game design, information security, animation, and human-computer interaction through interactive classes, research, group projects, and hands-on labs. Students live in dorms, dine at University facilities, and take courses with Drexel faculty.

DUCA is designed to enhance students’ critical thinking, sharpen their leadership skills, and teach effective collaboration. Throughout DUCA, students participate in team projects, which they independently develop and manage, exploring how computing and information technology can be used to solve societal problems. Applied knowledge is the key to developing a deep understanding of the subject matter, and these projects foster global awareness and demonstrate how students can use what they have through DUCA. To encourage students to further pursue careers in computing and technology, DUCA students who successfully complete the five-week program are eligible for an annual renewable scholarship should they enroll at Drexel University.

June 28 marked the beginning of the five-week Drexel University Computing Academy, a program for high school students that replaced the Pennsylvania Governor's School for Information, Society and Technology. This Governor's School had been held at Drexel since 1999 until its funding was eliminated earlier in 2009 due to state budget cuts.

DUCA is being run by the College of Engineering's Department of Computer Science and the College of Information Science and Technology (iSchool). The program features 25 high school students from Pennsylvania and New Jersey, most of whom are from the greater Philadelphia area. All students in the program recently completed their junior year of high school, though Drexel also opened the program to students who recently finished their sophomore year.

Jeffrey Popyack, associate professor in Computer Science and academic director of DUCA, said it was a shock to find out the Governor's School was canceled.

"[The Governor's School had] been a program that we enjoyed running and wanted to continue doing," Popyack said.

Popyack and others who had helped with the school decided to institute a replacement summer offering at Drexel.

Unlike the Governor's School, students attending DUCA pay tuition. Tuition costs a total $4,000 per student, $3,000 of which is eligible to be repaid as a scholarship if the student chooses to attend Drexel, according to Popyack. The remaining costs of the program are shared among the iSchool, College of Engineering, Provost's Office and Enrollment Management.

Popyack said he hopes students participating in the program will consider attending Drexel. Students who participated in the Governor's School at Drexel have attended the University, some majoring in subjects similar to those covered in the program.

Students participating in DUCA learn about different computer-related topics and later in the program choose a specific concentration track. Subjects covered include programming, object-oriented analysis and design, human-computer interaction, databases and game design. Non-technical subjects include leadership, marketing and computer ethics. DUCA also offers a course that focuses on information about Drexel and the co-op program.

Monica Jacobs from Swarthmore, Pa., said she liked the fact that they get to try a variety of different things in IT through the program.

Another student, Robbie Rozansky from Abington, Pa.said he likes the programming class in Python, a computer language.

In addition to attending classes, the students participate in activities including movie nights, bowling and salsa dancing. They reside in Myers Hall during the program.

Popyack said he has been very happy with the students in the program and that they are a talented, enthusiastic and very congenial group.

"It's great to see students that young getting into programming," Mike Dalton, a junior majoring in computer science and teaching assistant at DUCA, said.

Even if the Governor's School returns in the future, Popyack said Drexel would like to keep DUCA. A part of the program could potentially be devoted to the Governor's School, he added.

In the future DUCA would also like to increase the number of students participating in the program to 50. This number would be closer to the enrollment of previous years' Governor's Schools at Drexel. The program may also look for sponsors from organizations such as corporations or government.

In addition to Drexel, Lehigh University also organized a program to replace their Governor's School. Many colleges who had hosted a Governor's School were unable to create a replacement program.

Unlike the Governor's School, DUCA is open to out-of-state residents and students who recently finished their sophomore year of high school.

Popyack said he has "been really happy about the way [the department of computer science] and the iSchool have been able to work together" on the program.

DUCA is one of the larger projects the two have worked on together.

DUCA 2015
July 6 - August 7, 2015
Application is NOW open.

Apply Now!

Any questions, please email

Testimonial

"Our daughter attended four very different summer programs at four different colleges. By far, the DUCA experience has taught her the most with regard to her future. DUCA developed her future plans, gave her an understanding of different concentrations within computing, iSchool offerings, as well as make her aware of the programs at Drexel which turn those plans into reality in the future. That makes it a worthwhile investment, indeed." - DUCA Parent


FacebookYoutube

Contact DUCA
Phone: 215.895.2474 | Email: [email protected]