What are CS Pods?

CS Pods are designed to build CS community and connect students to CS-specific resources. Every new CS student will be able to choose a Pod with a small group of other first-year students (including transfer students!). Each CS 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 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.

New UTCS students: View our video welcome for advice!

Sophia Baig

Year in College: Sophomore

Hometown: Austin, Texas

Favorite CS experience so far and why: I haven't had much of an experience with everything being online for my freshman year, but my favorite CS experience would definitely be the community and how supportive everyone is here! I had minimal coding experience coming to UT, and in the past year I've learned and grown so much more than I could possibly imagine. My favorite class so far would without a doubt be CS314, Data Structures! It's the class that I've spent the most time on this past semester and learned the most in. Another experience that I've loved was definitely all the new people I've met in various student organizations at the beginning of freshman year, and all the friends I made through that. I'm so excited to continue growing as a student and a programmer in the coming years!

Julia Benginow

Year in college: Sophomore

Hometown: Dallas, Texas

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.

Rafay Din

Year in College: Senior

Hometown: Anderson, South Carolina

Favorite CS experience so far and why: My favorite CS experience was before I even entered into the department. It was one that solidified my intent to transfer internally. I joined the student organization Texas Convergent through one of their build teams in the Spring of my sophomore year. I got the opportunity to work on some challenging problems, and I met some great folks along the way. I was impressed by the talent and the kindness within UTCS, and I knew right away that I had to find a way in. Looking back, it was one of the best decisions I could have made.

Lucas Gates

Year in college: Junior

Hometown:  Carrolton, Texas 

Favorite CS experience so far & why:  
My favorite part of the UTCS experience is the amazing community I'm part of and the friends I've made within it. Throughout my classes and my Pod, I've made an amazing group of friends who have continued to support each other even as our world has been turned upside down. We work together, stress together, and laugh together: being with a group can make anything better! I feel like we've all grown so much as programmers, students, and people in just one year, and I'm super excited to continue my journey throughout UTCS with my community at my side.
 

Maria Gu

Year in College: Junior

Hometown: San Antonio, TX

Favorite CS experience so far and why: My favorite CS experience has been meeting so many great and amazing friends through pod, hackathons, lab hours, lecture, student orgs like WiCS and Code Orange, etc. Coming in, I was worried about finding a community on such a big campus. However, UTCS does a fantastic job of building community and making this big campus feel small. It’s so heartwarming to walk into the GDC (especially the 3rd floor lab) and see so many friendly familiar faces.

Dora Gurfinkel

Year in College: Senior

Hometown: Katy, Texas

Favorite CS experience so far and why: Taking Graduate Advanced Operating Systems with Dr. Rossbach. In Grad OS, I got to read research papers in systems and sometimes understand them too! I learned that qua! is the sound a koala makes (so long as you're the author of Synthesis) and that Naiad makes marginally more sense when read in a British accent by friends. Over the course of the semester I also learned that I could keep up with some cutting edge research and gained confidence in my programming abilities. My final project consisted of some contributions to rust-vmm, which is an open source hypervisor that ultimately supports AWS Lambda; it was definitely a pretty cool capstone to all the systems courses I'd taken in UTCS.

Ruben Hambardzumyan

Year in college: Senior

Hometown: Plano, Texas

Favorite CS experience so far & why: My favorite experience in CS was being a part of my POD freshman year! I was initially pretty nervous about meeting people at UT since it's such a HUGE school, but what I loved about POD is that it instantly allowed me to meet so many amazing new people and gave me a sneak peak of how friendly and supportive everyone in the UTCS community was! From late night study sessions (and inevitably goofing off) at the GDC to celebrating the end of the semester with hot chocolate at Mozart's, I've made so many wonderful memories with my friends from POD and they've basically become like my second family these past couple years! All in all, 10/10 would recommend :)

Alex Hanlin

Year in college: Junior

Hometown: Round Rock, Texas

Favorite CS experience so far & why:  My favorite CS experience so far has been getting to know the people around me in my classes. There are a lot of great people here, and working with them is really rewarding. I spend a lot of time talking to fellow CS students in online group chats. It frequently leads to times where one of us will have a bug, and 4 or 5 others come into the chat and help workshop a solution. I find it amazing how caring and helpful my friends and classmates can be. Moments like those, where one of us needs help and the others rush in to give their ideas, make me proud to be in the UTCS community.

Morgan Hill

Year in college: Senior

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!

Shadin Hussein

Year in College: Junior

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!

Haana Janmohamed

Year in College: Senior

Hometown: Round Rock, TX

Favorite CS experience so far and why: My favorite CS experience was working with my OS group to complete our projects! Even though we were all online and everything was done through a Zoom call, it was fun to bond with my group and complain/laugh/cry (just kidding about the last one!) about the class. Overall, I loved the course as well because Dr. Norman really helped build a community - as an internal transfer, I didn't know many CS students but Dr. Norman made sure that everyone got the chance to meet new people!

Kyle Kamka

Year in college: Junior

Hometown: Austin, Texas

Favorite CS experience so far & why: My favorite CS experience is more so the entire program. Coming into UTCS I was so worried about how I would do given my lack of programming experience as a freshman, but thanks to all the wonderful resources and professors here at UTCS my transition was smooth and fun! All the orgs and events hosted at UTCS are a lot of fun and there are some great opportunities. My favorite aspect of CS is the idea that there is a sense of community in the challenges that we all share. You can make a friend almost anywhere you go whether it’s office hours or lectures, the person next to you can always relate to the difficulty of the class. Due to this, almost everyone you meet will be happy to help you because they understand what you feel.

Lexi Lewis

Year in College: Sophomore

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!

Niti Malwade

Year in College: Senior

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!

Lauren Mangibin

Year in College: Senior

Hometown: Austin, Texas

Favorite CS experience so far and why: Realizing that everyone cramming to finish the OS project in the GDC at 2AM was part of the same CS Pod. 
We were delusional from being up that late, but we also felt a sense of community because of the support we gave to each other during those hardships (and from bragging rights that our pod was the best pod). The relationships I've made throughout my time in the CS community have been a blessing to me because I've learned so much from every person I've met. From talking to professors about their life stories, to receiving advice about internships, to joking around with the freshmen, I see passion in their hearts and ambition to pursue that passion. Everyone continuously pushes you to new heights here, and for that, I am so thankful. 

Tyler Miller

Year in College: Senior

Hometown: Orange, TX

Favorite CS experience so far and why: My favorite part of the UTCS experience has been learning from our amazing faculty and working with my talented peers on interesting, challenging problems. The curriculum is challenging, but having a solid group of friends really makes the whole experience worthwhile. There are so many opportunities to pursue whatever area of computer science interests you most, and I highly recommend joining any of the many student organizations so that you can meet people to share the ups and downs of college life with. For me, the wonderful people in the CS department are what really make it an awesome experience.

Anjitha Nair

Year in college: Senior

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!

Bruce Nguyen

Year in college: Junior

Hometown: Houston, Texas

Favorite CS experience so far & 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: Sophomore

Hometown: Tomball, Texas

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.

Bridget O'Neill

Year in College: Senior

Hometown: The Woodlands, TX

Favorite CS experience so far and why: I really enjoyed my time in Operating Systems sophomore year and my POD in freshman year. I was lucky enough to make so many amazing friends through POD, from establishing lifelong friendships, to animal crossing buddies, to study buddies. I have had a great time while learning so much about Computer Science and myself. I really believe in the people in this department: not only the students but also the faculty and staff that make this program truly shine. (I’m also an OS TA so if you see me around the 3rd floor lab feel free to say hi!)

Niyati Prabhu

Year in College: Sophomore

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!

Sruthi Rudravajjala

Year in college: Senior

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!

Anusri Shah

Year in college: Senior

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.

Hanaa Siddiqui

Year in college: Sophomore

Hometown: Plano, Texas

Favorite CS experience so far & 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!

Emma Simon

Year in college: Sophomore

Hometown: Keller, Texas

Favorite part about CS and why: Despite having been remote for this past year, I still have made so many memorable experiences in the UT CS department! I think what stands out to me the most is the level to which many of the instructors are willing to go to in order to help you succeed. Mike Scott is far and away the best teacher/professor that I have ever had purely just in terms of the amount of effort he puts into his courses. Even though I'm already a sophomore, I still feel as though I have so much to learn and experience here at UT. I can't wait to get on campus and make up for lost time!

Grant Skaggs

Year in college: Senior

Hometown: Houston, TX

Favorite CS experience so far & why: Of all the great memories I’ve made at UT, few come close to the experience I’ve had getting to know my best friends in CS. Not only have these great people been with me through stressful career fairs and final exams, they’ve made my time at UT immeasurably more exciting and enjoyable. I’ve competed with them in IM soccer games, programming competitions, and hackathons. We’ve journeyed through countless hours of Dungeons and Dragons quests and Avatar: The Last Airbender episodes, and we’ve struggled together through just as many hours of group projects and operating systems assignments. I love the friends I’ve made here and am immensely grateful for the community I’ve found within UTCS.

Brandt Swanson

Year in college: Senior

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."

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!

Varad Thorat

Year in college: Junior

Hometown: Plano, Texas

Favorite CS experience so far & why: My favorite experiences in CS would be whenever I hang out with friends that I made through POD. We have made countless memories together by studying for exams, working on labs at the GDC, or hunting for fried oreos on Speedway. They have made my college experience so much more fun, and I feel like I have found my place here at UT. I have struggled and grown during my time here, and my friends were there every step of the way. As we continue to learn here, I'm sure that I will grow with these friends and make memories that will last a lifetime.

Linh Vu

Year in College: Sophomore

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.

Didi Zhou

Year in College: Senior

Hometown: Austin, TX

Favorite CS experience so far and why: My favorite CS experience has been receiving endless support from the people around me and being able to give that support back to others. I have loved the people I have met in this department. There are people who are willing to support me no matter what I'm going through, people who have laughed endlessly with me over the smallest thing, people who will get Tiff's Treats with me in the middle of the night, people who will talk with me about social issues we face in society and within this major. When I struggle through imposter syndrome or with my mental health, it's the people around me that helped me through it and convince me that I belong in this space. They are the ones that helped me become who I am. I have loved being able to be that person for others and hope to continue to do so!