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UT Computer Science celebrated its 50th anniversary by commemorating the past and exploring the future of computer science at UT. The main events on Friday, Oct. 28 included a symposium featuring presentations and panel discussions by UT faculty and alumni, a festival for UTCS students including live music, arcade games and a climbing wall, and a banquet honoring 50 successful years of computer science research and education.

That afternoon, UTCS students taking a break from their studies filled the GDC to celebrate the anniversary with 50Fest with a photo booth, live music and more. Towering above the festivities, an inflatable rock climbing wall in the middle of the GDC atrium challenged students to line up in an attempt to scale it.

An all-day symposium featured the past work of UTCS faculty and alumni and offering their insights into the future of computer science from a wide variety of fields. UT vice president for research, Dr. Dan Jaffe started off the symposium and said the University of Texas is “the University of ‘What’s Next,’” while UTCS is the “Department of ‘What’s Beyond Next.’”

The symposium featured presentations by alumni who now hold prominent positions at companies and organizations like Microsoft, VMware, and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, as well as alumni who have achieved prominence as tech entrepreneurs. UTCS faculty shared their research and insights on topics such as computer vision, cryptography, quantum computing and more.

Keynote speaker Ed Felton, the White House Office of Science and Technology deputy chief technology officer, emphasized the value of computer scientists’ expertise in government to make policy decisions about technology. A panel consisting of UT experts from the technical, social and legal perspectives of technology explored the potential effects of growing artificial intelligence capabilities on society, and another panel of entrepreneurs and academic experts discussed how UT influences the Austin technology ecosystem through research and UTCS graduates contributing to Austin’s growth as a technology center.

After a full day of expert talks on the future of computer science, alumni, faculty and students celebrated the past successes of UTCS with a formal banquet. Students and alumni socialized and chatted about the past and present of computer science at UT. Guest speakers included Dean Linda Hicke; James C. Browne, the last active member of the original faculty; and Tarun Nimmagadda and Mickey Ristroph, UTCS alumni and co-founders and CEOs of MutualMobile. The evening came to a close with an a capella rendition of "The Eyes of Texas."