What are CS Pods?

CS Freshmen Pods are designed to build CS community and connect students to CS-specific resources. Each student will be able to choose a Pod with a small group of other first-year students. Each CS Pod will contain a seminar which is used to teach freshmen 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 CS mentor and CS staff facilitator will lead the weekly 1-hour seminar meetings on several topics from time management to how to turn in your CS 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 CS Pod. You will choose either a CS 312 Intro to Programming Pod or a CS 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 CS Pod mentors?

The CS 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 CS 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.

Apply to be a Fall 2020 Pod mentor! Applications are open 11/11/19 - 11/25/19 at bitly.com/CSPod20

Sruthi Rudravajjala

Year in college: Sophomore

Hometown: Plano, Texas

Favorite CS experience so far & why: I have loved being a computer science major here at UT! From participating in my first hackathon with WiCS to developing products with my Convergent build team, I have learned a tremendous amount in a very short time. I had no CS experience before coming to UT and I am so excited by how rewarding and fulfilling it is. In my time here, I have met so many kind people who are always willing to help. There are so many great experiences I’ve had with amazing people and I can’t wait to make many more memories!

Corban Beaird

Year in college: Senior

Hometown:  Temple, Texas 

Favorite CS experience so far & why:  My favorite experience in the CS department has definitely been getting involved with Coding In the Classroom, it's an outreach program were UTCS students go to local schools and help provided exposure to what computer science.  It gave me the chance to really give back, and taking on the challenge of being a student leader was one of the most fulfilling experiences of my college career. Getting a real opportunity to make in impact on the lives of those around me, through something I'm passionate about, is incredible!

Scott Cao

Year in college: Senior

Hometown: Sugar Land, TX

Favorite CS experience so far & why: Personally I love hanging out with the friends that I’ve made in UTCS. While CS as a major is often challenging and stressful, it feels so much better to have friends that can relate to your experiences and go through it with you. When you have an accomplishment to share, such as finding a bug or landing an interview, they are there to share your joy. When you are feeling down, such as when you are stressing out about an upcoming exam or a career fair, they can be there to listen to your problems and make you feel better. I have made countless memories with the people I’ve met here, and I’m very grateful for being a part of such a supportive community. Although college only lasts 4 years, the memories I’ve had with the people in UTCS will last a lifetime.

Ira Gulati

Year in college: Junior

Hometown: Plano, Texas

Favorite CS experience so far & why:  One of my favorite experiences was joining the CS org Texas Code Orange my freshman year (and volunteering with the club through last year). In this organization, I was paired with a fourth grader in East Austin and got to meet with her once a week to work on building her knowledge of coding concepts using the program Scratch. We ended up creating some really fun games that included sprites and icons she designed herself. Code Orange was an incredibly formative part of my freshman year, and it taught me a lot about how it’s important to make computer science education more accessible for everyone. Additionally, the org introduced me to plenty of people who I still get to see around the GDC!

Morgan Hill

Year in college: Sophomore

Hometown: Katy, Texas

Favorite CS experience so far & why:  First let me start by saying that I was incredibly nervous to start here, but UTCS is the best department in the whole school! No bias here! Everyone around you is here to help you, and I promise that everything is going to turn out fine! That being said, my favorite memory so far has been spending time with all of my new friends! I met many of them through POD and other classes, and every single one is happy to help each other in any situation! Although some of the work was difficult, hanging out in the GDC with my friends while working on programming labs was so fun! There was no pressure to be perfect, or to be the smartest person in the room, because none of us know everything about CS, and that's ok! That is why we are here!rst let me start by saying that I was incredibly nervous to start here, but UTCS is the best department in the whole school! No bias here! Everyone around you is here to help you, and I promise that everything is going to turn out fine! That being said, my favorite memory so far has been spending time with all of my new friends! I met many of them through POD and other classes, and every single one is happy to help each other in any situation! Although some of the work was difficult, hanging out in the GDC with my friends while working on programming labs was so fun! There was no pressure to be perfect, or to be the smartest person in the room, because none of us know everything about CS, and that's ok! That is why we are here!

Nathan Jackson

Year in college: Sophomore

Hometown: Houston, Texas

Favorite CS experience so far & why: If I've learned anything from the long nights spent at the GDC, it's that I've truly found a home in Computer Science here at UT. Solving interesting problems for fantastic and engaging professors amongst my talented and social peers has certainly been the bright spot of my college experience thus far. I've met many of my friends at ACM and ISSS events, and I couldn't ask for a more welcoming community. I would highly recommend joining organizations once you get here, as I can't count the number of times the communities I've met here have supported me through rough times. 

Lucas Kabela

Year in college: Senior

Hometown: Victoria, Texas

Favorite CS experience so far & why: The best experience I have had in UTCS is without a doubt taking CS314 with Mike Scott.  I was fortunate enough to have a class reserved with a lot of my friends that I made through the POD program, and although the class was a lot of hard work, the projects such as Huffman Coding were super rewarding to complete!  Plus Mike's lectures are fantastic, so every day in class was fun and engaging.  Overall Mike's 314 class has been my favorite CS experience at UT because it was a fun, engaging and highly informative experience!

Niti Malwade

Year in College: Sophomore

Hometown: Austin, Texas

Favorite CS Experience so far and why: My favorite CS experience is not really a single moment but rather the countless memories I have with the friends I've made in UTCS - working late nights, camping out in office hours, and celebrating after turning in projects. I am so grateful for the community that UTCS has given me, it is not only a built-in support system, but also an opportunity to meet some of the coolest, most talented people on campus!

Siwei Mao

Year in College: Senior

Hometown: Plano, TX

Favorite CS experience so far and why: I've had so many positive CS experiences after coming into college, but my favorite would be attending my first HackTX, the annual hackathon held in the Omni Hotel! The simple idea of having you and your team work hard to produce a product after 24 hours was so thrilling and allowed me to really bond with my team as well as learn a lot of new technologies that I wouldn't have touched in a classroom setting. Walking around the hotel and seeing the other teams work so hard on their diverse projects really showed me the vast directions CS can take you. There were also so many companies there, which gave me the thought that I had so many potential opportunities available. Oh, and all the swag and food was a big plus too! 

Anjitha Nair

Year in college: Sophomore

Hometown: Plano, Texas

Favorite CS experience so far & why:  My favorite part of CS is the community. I met some of my best friends at SI Sessions and in POD, and they inspire me to work harder every day. CS can be overwhelming and challenging at times, and the people in CS (advising, professors, TAs, and classmates) will help you get through it. UTCS is your immediate family at UT, and we’re all ready to help each other out.

From studying for exams at the PCL to finishing programming assignments in the 3rd floor lab, I have met and learned from so many people in the last year. You will grow so much in CS, and as POD mentors, we hope to help make your freshman experience be even more memorable! See you in POD!

Ramya Prasad

Year in college: Junior

Hometown: Plano, Texas

Favorite CS experience so far and why: On my first day of school, I was scared out of my mind and was unsure if CS was for me, but after meeting all the rockstars in my 312 class and my pod, I couldn't have felt more at home. My girl group that formed in pod was a blessing in disguise, and they were the reason I was excited for class everyday. We all would laugh together, cry together, and just be there for each other when no one else was. These girls became my home away from home, and we probably wouldn't have met if it wasn't for Pod!

Javier Romero

Year in College: Junior

Hometown: Spring, Texas

Favorite CS experience so far and why: You’ll hear time and time again that one of the greatest things about this department is how many opportunities are available to meet some truly incredible people. With that in mind, my greatest CS experience must be working on the Huffman Encoding assignment for Mike Scott’s Data Structures class. Despite the agonizing growing pains from this difficult project, interacting with other students and learning alongside my partner during those trying times resulted in some of the most fun I’ve had in my time here. The friends I’ve made from that period have proven wonderful people, and I’m confident we’ll be friends for years to come.

Amit Samuel

Year in college: Junior

Hometown: Plano, Texas

Favorite part about CS and why: Ahh I remember it as if it was just last year. I'll never forget the times I had stealing shirts and sunglasses from from tech company stands at GDC (ehhem…I mean exchanging pleasantries with business reps). But if I'm being honest, the most exciting part about my 1 year so far at UT has been bonding with my professors. Though they may seem very daunting at first, they copy and paste code just like you and me! I had the pleasure of becoming close with one of the CS professors Mike Scott. He made the intimidating experience of being a first time Computer Science major at a prestigious school feel like being a seasoned CEO at "insert Big Flashy Tech Company". Being a CS Freshman was a new and riveting time in my life that I can't wait for you all to experience!!

Nila Selvaraj

Year in College: Junior

Hometown: The Woodlands, TX

Favorite CS experience so far and why: I think my favorite CS experience so far is WiCS Hacks 2018. The theme was magic, and the decorations were awesome. It was my first hackathon ever, but it was only 12 hours so it wasn't too stressful. I just had fun messing around with my friends, using IBM's IoT platform, eating free food, collecting all the swag, making a cool color-changing magic wand with an Arduino, and learning a lot. We messed up our final presentation due to technical difficulties, but we still managed to win first place in Ed Tech! I had a lot of fun.

Ji-Young Seo

Year in college: Junior

Hometown: Seoul, Korea

Favorite CS experience so far & why: My favorite aspect is the supportive, talented community I’m blessed to be a part of. Coming into UTCS hardly knowing anything, I was wholeheartedly welcomed by classmates, upperclassmen, and professors who helped me understand even the simplest concepts and encouraged me through challenges. It’s such a privilege to have friends whom I can share programming assignment struggles with, as well as make homemade pizza together while watching Netflix. My hope is to build this amazing community up further and help others experience such fruitful friendship!

Anusri Shah

Year in college: Sophomore

Hometown: Katy, TX

Favorite CS experience so far & why: For me, it's not just one specific experience - it's the community that I've found within UTCS. I'm still astounded by the fact that in UTCS, upperclassmen are willing to go above and beyond to make your transition into college easier and to give you so much mentorship and support. I'm also still in awe at the fact that the friends that I made freshman year from UTCS have truly become my family. No matter what is going on in my life, whether it's good or bad, I know that I can call them up and rely on them to give me love and support. I'm so grateful to have met people who I know will be my friends for life.

Brandt Swanson

Year in college: Sophomore

Hometown: Spring/Houston, Texas

Favorite CS experience so far & why: Most of my favorite memories have come from my CS Pod, whether it was in our actual pod discussion, or during the times I saw friends from my pod outside of the discussion. Being a part of a CS pod really gives you the opportunity to branch out, meet new people, and still settle into college. It was a great experience, and it makes the adjustment to college a lot easier. Another great part of UTCS is the large amount of orgs we have. I had to opportunity to be a part of Convergent as well as Freetail hackers, and both of those orgs really helped me get the best out of my time in the CS program."

Stephanie Tran

Year in college: Sophomore

Hometown: Houston, Texas

Favorite CS experience so far and why: My favorite times in CS are definitely when I hang out and study with the friends I’ve made in UTCS. From late nights working on projects like bits.c and Huffman to walking in the rain for ice cream sandwiches, my freshman year wouldn’t have been great without the people I’ve met. From my classes and POD, I believe I’ve found a group of friends that I would want to keep in contact with even when we’re 70. The times we spent goofing off after studying for hours brightened even the most stressful times and still bring a smile to my face as I write this. In addition to the fun we’ve had, I think the most impactful moments are when we learn from each other (as cliché as that sounds). We all have different ways of thinking and approaching problems that whenever we “rubber ducky” each other, I end up hearing completely different implementations that I never would have thought of on my own. The growth I’ve experienced as a person by listening and teaching other people is something just as irreplaceable as the memories I’ve made in UTCS.

Kalpana Vaidya

Year in college: Senior

Hometown: Sugarland, Texas

Favorite CS experience so far & why: Honestly, becoming a part of the UTCS family has been a true blessing. I could not imagine furthering my computer science journey than right here at UT. However, my passion for computer science really started when I attended UT's computer science camp for girls, First Bytes. I had the opportunity to work at the UT facilities for a week over the summer and participate in several talks from many women in industry. It was the first time that I knew for certain that I wanted to pursue this field. It was inspiring to hear how computer science could be used in many scenarios and how applicable it was to almost every facet of life. Now, I could not be more excited to continue learning here at UT!

Andrea Youwakim

Year in college:  Senior

Hometown: Nederland, Texas

Favorite CS experience so far & why: Hi Guys! First of all, welcome to UTCS! I know things are definitely scary at first, but hopefully once classes start, you'll begin to feel right at home. This brings me to my favorite part about CS- the people. Coming from a small town, it's hard to find a group of friends that compliment your personality and life interests however, at UTCS I was able to make amazing friends that did just that. I've had really awesome professors and met a lot of cool people through my jobs and organizations. Coming to college is definitely different than high school, but with the amazing staff and UT population there are so many opportunities to be a part of something that is bigger than yourself - Don't be afraid to ask around!

Serena Zamarripa

Year in college: Senior

Hometown: Palacios, Texas

Favorite CS experience so far & why: I love the people in CS. I absolutely adored the friendships that were created through my Pod my first semester here and all the memories I have made with those people since then. From late night shenanigans at the PCL or GDC to in-depth discussions about time travel or memes, the people I have met here have helped give me a home on the Forty Acres, and I am so grateful for that. I am so excited to continue my studies here for the next few years so that I can continue to explore my interests and abilities within CS alongside some of my favorite people.