What are C S Pods?

C S Pods are designed to build C S community and connect students to C S-specific resources. Every new C S student will be able to choose a Pod with a small group of other first-year students (including transfer students!). Each C S Pod will contain a seminar which is used to teach students about the Computer Science major, the College of Natural Sciences, and University. Pods also have linked courses that everyone in the Pod take together!  An experienced C S mentor and C S staff facilitator will lead the weekly 1-hour seminar meetings on several topics from time management to how to turn in your C S homework. Each seminar will also have a social aspect planned by their mentor.

How do I join?

During Orientation, you will register for your first semester of classes, including your C S Pod. You will choose either a C S 312 Intro to Programming Pod or a C S 314 Data Structures Pod. Don't worry! The seminar class within the Pod doesn't add any hours to your schedule and we don't assign homework, so you will have plenty of time to focus on your other classes!

Who are the C S Pod mentors?

The C S Pod mentors are exceptional leaders and students at UT! All of them are Computer Science majors who have encountered many of the issues you may face your first year. Your mentors will contact you near the end of the summer to introduce themselves and to set up any activities or events they may have planned for the weeks before classes start. You will also have a C S staff member or advisor that will help to facilitate your meeting. They are an experienced contact person if you have issues that you and your mentor need help solving.

New UTCS students: View our video welcome for advice!

Jamie Babbe

Year in college: Sophomore

Hometown: Granbury, TX

Favorite CS experience so far and why: My favorite CS experience so far has been being able to complete all of the assignments honestly. You get such a sense of pride that I can't quite describe. 

Sophia Baig

Year in College: Junior

Hometown: Austin, TX

Favorite CS experience so far and why: My favorite part about my experience in the CS department is looking back at the end of the semester and seeing how much I've grown and learned in just the span of 15 weeks! Every semester, I realize how much more capable I am of learning and doing new things that I had no idea how to do before. Additionally, I love the community that I've gotten to know over my past two years here. Everyone is constantly so supportive, and that has undoubtedly helped me throughout my time here, especially as someone coming in with minimal coding experience. 

Julia Benginow

Year in college: Junior

Hometown: Dallas, TX

Favorite CS experience so far and why: Having started at UT during the pandemic, I thought that my experiences wouldn’t be too bright. However, the UTCS community proved otherwise. My favorite CS experience hasn’t really been an event; more so, it has been the amazing people I’ve met. In a time where all of us could easily feel isolated, we all came together to make the best of our experience here. Whether it was late nights working together on projects at the GDC to the days after our finals, we all found a way to come together and support each other through this wacky year.

Gerardo Rafael Bote

Year in college: Junior

Hometown: Houston, TX

Favorite CS experience so far and why: So far with UTCS, I found that participating in hackathons is a lot of fun! Luckily, when I was searching for hackathons as a freshman, I found that the organization Freetail Hackers hosts a hackathon every semester! Without hesitating, I registered for their Change-a-thon (as it was called) and created a product that I never thought I would ever create! I did the same thing for the Longhorn Hack for Humanity hackathon a year later, where I helped some of my closest friends in UTCS to create their first-ever website. Other than hackathons, I love to study in the GDC where I can collaborate with some of my colleagues in solving interesting and thought-provoking problems in the realm of algorithms and computer architecture. I also love the networking opportunities UTCS provides through Friends of Computer Science (FoCS) events since I can learn more about specific CS concentrations like AI and ML and understand more about the goals and objectives some tech companies have!

Gabriel Casanova

Year in College: Junior

Hometown: San Antonio, TX

Favorite CS experience so far and why: One of my favorite things about the CS department here at UT Austin is its welcoming sense of community. I particularly enjoy the small memories that I've formed with my CS friends. Whether it be us walking down Speedway after grabbing food off Guad, sitting in the 3rd floor computer lab for hours on end trying to figure out why we are getting StackOverflowErrors, or getting to laugh about some funny thing our professor had said during lecture days earlier, it's small memories like these that fill my mind when I think of the computer science department at UT Austin. Although it can be stressful at times, the people in this department make it all the more worth it!

Abhinav Chadaga

Year in college: Sophomore

Hometown: Flower Mound, TX

Favorite CS experience so far and why: My favorite experience so far would be working in the 3rd-floor lab my first semester, completing the CS314 assignments. The lab was a great place to meet people and I ended up meeting a lot of my friends in the 3rd-floor lab. Hearing from the 314 TAs and Mike Scott was also really awesome - they were super passionate about Data Structures and willing to help when I had questions about assignments. This experience made UTCS feel far more collaborative and I knew I found my community.  

Kylan Duncan

Year in college: Sophomore

Hometown: Houston, TX

Favorite CS experience so far and why: My favorite CS experience was taking part in CS organizations. Joining the Association of Black Computer Scientists introduced me to a whole community of people I could identify with as well as pursue greater opportunities alongside. We collaborated, had fun, and made connections that would stay with us along our college journey. The social events introduced me to more CS majors that I could resonate with, and meeting corporate recruiters and software engineers during club events gave me insightful career advice that motivated me to develop myself even further. Overall, being in a club gave me one of the best experiences I could ever have in UTCS along with meeting the most memorable people I ever could.

Arun Eswara

Year in college: Junior

Hometown: Plano, TX

Favorite part about CS and why: My favorite CS experience so far was a social hosted by some CSB sophomores - since my year mostly started virtually, it was initially hard to meet the other students in my class. Our CS socials were a great way to meet other students, and the friendships I've formed here on campus were some of my best memories and the most fun I've had in UTCS. I was initially apprehensive about meeting other people and forming new friendships, but UT does an exceptional job of creating camaraderie and encouraging students to meet each other.

Jake Honea

Year in College: Sophomore

Hometown: Fort Worth, TX

Favorite CS Experience so far and why: My favorite experience in CS is being a part of various student organizations. I'm actively involved in Texas ACM and CS Roadshow, and my favorite memory so far has been the Texas ACM day trip to Pedernales Falls State Park. The trip to the state park allowed members to bond outside of the classroom and explore nature together. Whether it was the cave exploring, swimming in the river, or playing card games for hours, the experience formed lasting relationships with my classmates beyond our classes. The student organizations at UT made me feel like I belong in the community, and my journey throughout university would not be the same without them.

Shadin Hussein

Year in College: Senior

Hometown: Austin, TX

Favorite CS experience so far and why: One of the best aspects of UTCS is the opportunity to be a part of the supportive and talented community that the students and staff of this department have created. Transferring into the department as we were transitioning onto online classes was challenging. However, I was astonished by the amount of support and advice the staff and upperclassmen were willing to offer. It is incredible how many strong friendships and bonds you can make with your peers as a result of working late nights, studying and celebrating the end of exams, and enjoying free time together. I’m grateful for these experiences and hope to help others become a part of this amazing community!

Gina Jeon

Year in college: Sophomore

Hometown:  Plano, TX

Favorite CS experience so far and why:  My favorite part about CS at UT so far is just how much I have grown as a student from interacting with professors, mentors, and peers. I feel super grateful to learn from some of the most brilliant people in our field. Moreover, it is such a great experience to be surrounded by people who share similar interests and understand what you're going through both academically and emotionally. I really enjoyed working on pair programming assignments in CS314 because of the collaborative aspect of understanding how other people approach problems. There were plenty of moments of sheer frustration and defeat working for hours on end, but the laughs, the late-night talks, and the magnitude of accomplishment we felt after finishing the project are things I will never forget. 

 

Raju Kakarlapudi

Year in College: Senior

Hometown: Overland Park, KS

Favorite CS experience so far and why: When I first came to UT, I was basically alone. I didn't know anyone from high school and didn't have many connections. For that reason, I was pretty scared about building relationships and finding a good group of friends. Luckily, I found a lot of what I was looking for in my own pod. What started as a M408D study group of 6 became a really great friend group we later labeled our 'Pod Squad'. To this day, I look to these friends for emotional academic and professional support. My pod was definitely a highlight of my CS experience and it brought me friends that I will have for a lifetime. To this day that was my favorite CS experience and I don't think I'm unique. UTCS is a collaborative major by nature, and I love seeing all the friendships that are built through collaboration.

Kamil Kalowski

Year in college: Junior

Hometown: Wroclaw, Poland

Favorite CS experience so far and why: My favorite CS experience thus far has been meeting friends whose academic and personal interests align with mine. From playing basketball to trying to figure out how the heck to reverse a linked list, we've been through it all. My initial apprehensive notions about being an internal student and struggling to make friends were put to rest within the first 2 to 3 weeks of my first semester. It's given me a sense of belonging and made me appreciate the UTCS community and department a ton. These experiences have also helped me grow as a person, programmer, and friend. I can't wait to see what the future holds!

Lexi Lewis

Year in College: Junior

Hometown: Dallas, TX

Favorite CS experience so far and why: My favorite part of CS so far was my pod freshman year. Going into my first year of college online, I was apprehensive and initially felt isolated from my peers. However, my pod mentor (shoutout Bridget) made me feel confident in my abilities and helped me throughout my whole freshman year. I also became friends with other people in my pod. I think this was the first time in my whole life I got to make friends with people who had similar academic interests as me,! It was really cool to be surrounded by such smart, well-accomplished people and learn more about them. The friends I made in pod are going to be my friends for the next four years!

Marlon Merida Garcia

Year in College: Sophomore

Hometown: Houston, TX

Favorite CS experience so far and why: My favorite UT experience can not be described by one event, but it is instead the collection of experiences I have had here. I met amazing people from different backgrounds and was able to find my space here in UTCS. The people that I meet for less than a few hours are also always so willing to give advice to make sure that I succeed and it astounds me. When I came in there was a bad stigma about how CS majors act, but in my year here I have found the complete opposite. Even the assignments that made me stress are something that I will treasure. I guess I can say my favorite experience is being a part of UTCS.

Ansh Moraje

Year in College: Sophomore

Hometown: Glen Rock, NJ

Favorite CS experience so far and why: My favorite CS experience so far was Data Structures. A bit of a nerdy answer I know haha, but I just loved the entire Data Structures class. I thought professor Mike Scott was a great engaging lecturer, and I loved the content of the class. I thought each lab used a very straightforward logical mindset and I loved thinking like that in order to solve the problems. Furthermore, it’s arguably one of the most important classes we take because many technical interviews revolves around the content learned in that class. Of course, I still have much more to experience in the CS department at UT, so I’m sure my favorite experience will change in the next few years.

Bruce Nguyen

Year in college: Senior

Hometown: Houston, TX

Favorite CS experience so far and why: Personally, my most favorite aspect of UTCS is that it genuinely feels like home. No matter what you take part in, there is always a sense of community and unity that the courses, organizations, and people of UTCS all exhibit. From taking part in my first hackathon with my incredible team to sharing laughs at the GDC with my amazing friends, UTCS has truly provided me with a college experience that has furthered my passions in computer science. The people that I have met here are some of my best friends that have blessed me with countless memories, and I will continue to look forward to many more amazing memories to come! Being one person in a large community may feel intimidating, but UTCS has proven to make me feel like I am indeed a vital piece of an impactful bigger picture.

DanThy Nguyen

Year in college: Junior

Hometown: Tomball, TX

Favorite CS experience so far and why: My favorite CS experience so far is definitely hanging out and studying with all my UTCS friends. No matter how painful the subject matter, I was able to pull through with them while also having fun simultaneously. Nothing beats surviving with friends. It's the pain and suffering that increases camaraderie. In all seriousness, the friends that I have made have helped my late nights become so much better. All the little jokes, gaming, and dramas with them have filled up the gaps in between my classes. My UTCS experience would not be the same without them. I can't wait to create more memories on campus next semester.

Huyen Nguyen

Year in college: Sophomore

Hometown: Fort Worth, TX

Favorite CS experience so far and why:  My favorite experience in CS has been when me and my group of CS girl friends went out to eat ramen together after our last CS312 exam to celebrate the end to a semester. Since then, we have been a support system for each other throughout both semesters. We study together, go to lecture with each other, and see each other at our worsts and bests in CS. Without them, I don't know if my experience in CS would even be remotely as fun and exciting.

Niyati Prabhu

Year in College: Junior

Hometown: Flower Mound, TX

Favorite CS experience so far and why: My favorite part of CS isn't just one thing in specific. From the moment I started as a CS major last fall, I felt so welcome in the department and immediately felt like I belonged here. From my fellow students, to the professors in the department, to the various diversity orgs, everyone I've come across has been so kind and inclusive. I had never programmed before college, and I remember being so afraid of what the environment would be like here. Much to my relief, I was met with overwhelming encouragement from so many people - everyone was so willing to engage with me and help me out! Especially in an online format, I'm so thankful I'm in this department, where everyone makes an effort to be involved and stay connected with one another. I am SO excited to be able to experience it all in-person this fall!

Arvind Rathnam

Year in College: Sophomore

Hometown: Chennai, India

Favorite CS experience so far and why: My favorite CS experience so far has got to be meeting all the fun and interesting people in UTCS. Everyone comes from different backgrounds and has different experiences so there is a lot that you can learn from everyone. Moreover, these people are also fun to hang out with. There is always somebody to go get food with at midnight or cram assignments overnight. Looking back after freshman year, all these experiences with these wonderful people has truly been the highlight of my college career so far.  

Kaitlyn Rouse

Year in College: Sophomore

Hometown: New Braunfels, TX

Favorite CS experience so far and why: My favorite CS experiences so far have been seeing all of my friends on the third floor of the Gates Dell Complex (GDC) almost every afternoon. It's such a cool feeling to know that I can walk into the building and instantly be surrounded by a bunch of people that support me and are going through the same things as me. Computer science is a tough major to navigate alone, so meeting new people and strengthening my friendships in this environment has been crucial to my success at UT. I've made so many great memories with the people I've met in this major, whether it be studying for exams, exploring Austin, grabbing coffee from Longhorn Café, or designing a company to disintegrate banana peels.

Megan Sickler

Year in college: Sophomore

Hometown: Plano, TX

Favorite CS experience so far and why:  My favorite experience in UTCS so far has been the Pod program! I met some of my closest friends in Pod during my first semester, and I don't know what I would do without them. We still plan our class schedules together, and we have started little traditions like getting boba to celebrate after completing major exams and assignments. I'm glad that I went into Pod with an open mind and ready to meet new friends!

Hanaa Siddiqui

Year in college: Junior

Hometown: Plano, TX

Favorite CS experience so far and why: My favorite CS experience was spending a week at the GDC, working on a coding assignment with my classmates. We would go to Jester Pizza and get food together, before coming right back and working into the late night. In days like those, I have felt the most productive and accomplished in my academic career. CS can be rough and challenging, but there are wonderful moments in between the work, where you connect with friends, make memories, and those are what carry me through my days. And the best feeling in the world is finishing an assignment early and giving yourself a break to have fun!

Megan Sundheim

Year in college: Sophomore

Hometown: Austin, TX

Favorite CS experience so far and why: My favorite experience in UTCS has been the small, tight-knit community I’ve helped build with my friends from Pod! Since I had completed a summer internship prior to my freshman year at UT with several of my Pod-mates, I had the opportunity to further forge and deepen those connections through sharing classes and participating in Pod activities with those amazing people. Whether it be throwing late-night pizza party study sessions in the library before an exam, goofing around constantly through Discord, going to fun social events with fellow CS majors in my spirit organization, or simply having a support network for when I struggle with assignments or stress, being able to go through the CS program with my best friends has been the highlight of my UTCS experience so far!

David Tang

Year in College: Sophomore

Hometown: Rowlett, Texas

Favorite CS experience so far and why: Many of my favorite experiences in UTCS revolve around involvement in the student orgs. Q++, EGaDS, and CS Roadshow have been great places to build connections with others and find a sense of community within this huge school. Though I spent my first year online and wasn't able to have the full experience of late nights at the GDC or an in-person Pod, events like socials and volunteering with these orgs still allowed me to meet many other CS students and feel welcomed in this community. Though CS is definitely challenging sometimes, establishing friendships with those around you is invaluable and I'm so grateful for those I've already met. As we return to the in-person experience, I hope to remain involved and create many more memories on my journey through UTCS!

Mia Tey

Year in College: Sophomore

Hometown: Corous Christi, TX

Favorite CS experience so far and why: My favorite experience so far has definitely been being able to challenge myself like never before. Growing up in Corpus, there were limited opportunities to educate myself on topics I was fully interested in. After two semesters in the UTCS program, I have become aware of my potential to grow and learn, and it has opened my eyes to the opportunities that lay ahead. Additionally, I've met several of my closest friends through CS pods and WiCS that I now study and hang out with for hours in the GDC lab and who can bond with me over common CS struggles.

Tejaswi Thapa

Year in College: Sophomore

Hometown: Denton, TX

Favorite CS experience so far and why: My favorite CS experience so far has been the long nights of programming at the GDC lab with my friends! Although those nights were the most tiring and stressful, working through each small bug with my friends and ending up with a finished program is such a rewarding feeling. Every person I have met in this department has been nothing short of kind and talented. I hope to help my Pod mentees join and fall in love with this amazing community just like me!

Hima Tummalapalli

Year in college: Sophomore

Hometown: Carrollton, TX

Favorite CS experience so far and why: My favorite CS experience has been trying out new experiences. I participated in my first few hackathons this year, and I learned a lot from them! I’ve also been enjoying my classes, even though they can be time-consuming. I have also made some friends in the CS community, and the interactions I’ve had with other CS students has been memorable, especially those with upperclassmen. I love how inclusive the CS community is and how quickly everyone welcomes you in, and it’s made an impact on my college experience so far.

Tess Van Daele

Year in college: Sophomore

Hometown: Austin, TX

Favorite CS experience so far and why:  My favorite CS experience has been the community within the department and the amount of support I have received since joining UTCS. I first experienced this  during my freshman pod. Even though it was online, my pod mentors created such a welcoming environment where we could hang out, get to know people, and talk about all the things I thought were so daunting about college. The transition from high school can be really intimidating so being in a group of peers that were all going through the same thing was so reassuring. Throughout my time at UT, I've always felt that I had people I could turn to for help. Whether that be my advisor, my pod mentors, professors, or friends, people in UTCS are cheering you on and pushing you to succeed. 

Nidhi Venigalla

Year in College: Sophomore

Hometown: Springfield, IL

Favorite CS experience so far and why: I would say my favorite CS experience isn't limited to one thing; my favorite CS experience has been meeting my friends in my major, all the inclusive clubs and organizations that have made me feel accepted in CS, and just the CS experience in general. CS Pods was also one of my favorite CS experiences. Through Pods, I have met many of my friends who share common interests that I would not have met if not for CS Pods. Everyone in my Pod was supportive and encouraging, which helped make CS less daunting at the beginning of freshman year. Since I had little CS experience, CS was scary at first and I struggled with imposter syndrome. Talking to my peers in my Pod, I found that many others also struggled with imposter syndrome. Knowing that my peers also felt this way was comforting and definitely helped to give me a sense of belonging. The CS department also helped my transition to college; the department is extremely supportive and ready to help, which helped me feel more comfortable in CS. My CS experience has been incredibly rewarding so far and I'm excited to continue!

Linh Vu

Year in College: Junior

Hometown: Kien Giang, Vietnam

Favorite CS experience so far and why: My first year as a UTCS student was all online (sadly), which made it so difficult for me and other students to interact with each other. Nevertheless, that did not stop me from enjoying my time at UT. I could not meet a lot of people, just yet, but I met a couple great friends from my CS 314 class. I remember it when my classmates and I complained about how hard our coding assignments were. Especially after each CS test, we jumped into a call and let it all out, like how bad we did and how tricky the test was. Coming to UT, I thought that everyone was A students, and they were all genius. I was afraid that I was the only one who did not perform well in class, but having those talks with my classmates about how we were struggle in CS really made me feel I was not alone, and that we could learn and do better together. They were there and supported me all the way. They pulled me out of my imposter syndromes (many times). I do not know what I would do without their encourage during the semester. And yes... my favorite CS experience so far is that I was able to meet those amazing supporting CS friends during my time at UT.