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.

Lucas Gates

Year in college: Sophomore

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.

Ira Gulati

Year in college: Senior

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!

Ruben Hambardzumyan

Year in college: Junior

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 :)

Morgan Hill

Year in college: Junior

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: Junior

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. 

Niti Malwade

Year in College: Junior

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!

Anjitha Nair

Year in college: Junior

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!

Bridget O'Neill

Year in College: Junior

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!)

Ramya Prasad

Year in college: Senior

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: Senior

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.

Sruthi Rudravajjala

Year in college: Junior

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!

Amit Samuel

Year in college: Senior

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: Senior

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: Senior

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: Junior

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.

Grant Skaggs

Year in college: Junior

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: Junior

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."

Varad Thorat

Year in college: Sophomore

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.

Stephanie Tran

Year in college: Junior

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.

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.