People & Programs

TACC’s EPIC Expansion

New computing education group joins TACC

EPIC team at TACC

Sometimes organizations grow slowly. And sometimes changes are EPIC.

A new group has joined TACC — Expanding Pathways in Computing (EPIC) — adding to the center’s portfolio of educational programs for students and community members of all ages.

Formed with staff from a number of successful computational training programs at UT Austin, EPIC emphasizes training computer science (CS) teachers in Texas schools.

“At TACC, we see every day how critically important a computationally literate workforce is to the science and engineering research enterprise, and to the broader economy,” said TACC Executive Director Dan Stanzione. “With the addition of EPIC to our existing, student-focused programs, we have a more holistic approach to bringing computing to the Texas workforce.”

EPIC’s mission is to broaden participation in kindergarten through graduate-level computing. The group is particularly committed to expanding access and opportunity for traditionally underrepresented students in computing.

“We’re excited to be part of TACC,” said Carol Fletcher, EPIC’s director. “We’re now embedded with people that have the disciplinary expertise in areas such as supercomputing, artificial intelligence, and data visualization that will support the work that we do in computing education. TACC embraces the mission of broadening participation in computing, which makes the two organizations very complementary.”

EPIC increases the number of certified CS teachers in Texas through a range of online and in-person teacher professional development programs. They also increase the number of high schools across Texas that offer CS and diversify student enrollment to ensure traditionally underrepresented students such as women and students of color are better represented in CS courses and experiences.

Since 2015, the WeTeach_CS project, a component of EPIC, has helped more than 500 Texas teachers complete their certification in high school computer science. EPIC is replicating this success in other states as well.

“With the launch of EPIC, TACC will expand its already impressive leadership in equity-focused CS outreach,” Fletcher said. “Our team is pleased to help TACC become a national model for effective integration of high performance computing and broadening participation efforts in all educational levels.”

In its goal to create a strong community of teachers, administrators, university faculty, and industry partners, the EPIC group leads the following research and service projects:

Trains K-12 educators in Texas and nationally to improve access to high-quality computer science experiences for a broad and diverse range of students.

ECEP (Expanding Computing Education Pathways) Alliance
Supports a national network of CS education leaders from 22 states and Puerto Rico focused on policy change that leads to broader participation in computing.

AWSM (Accelerating Women’s Success and Mastery) in CS
Facilitates a networked improvement community of secondary computing teachers focused on increasing access and participation of young women in computing courses.

Project ROCS (Rural Opportunities in Computer Science)
Researches diversity to develop a framework for collecting and reporting outcome measures that accurately portray equity in K-12 CS education.

Lone Star STEM
Partners with the Texas Education Agency, Educate Texas, and Jobs for the Future to build educator capacity in high school computer science, cybersecurity, and STEM.

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