The Annual Computer Science Fair

Here in NYC, we are about halfway into a 10-year effort to get computer science classes into every public school building in NYC. We are already seeing significant impact and outcomes.

Most of the students taking CS classes at school live in neighborhoods in NYC where there are no tech companies and they can’t see the pathway that they are on if they want to be. That is where the Annual Computer Science Fair comes in.

This year was the sixth annual CS Fair. We invite high school students who are taking CS classes to take the morning off from school and come to the Armory in Washington Heights and meet tech companies that they could one day work for and colleges/universities that they could attend.

I spent much of yesterday at the Fair and had the honor of taking Mayor de Blasio, who has been funding CS4All since the early days of his administration, through the event. Here are some photos from what is always a fantastic day for me.

I hope these young women made it over to the Etsy booth
Where they could have learned how Etsy uses data science to personalize everyone’s shopping experiences
This young man from the Bronx made a multiplayer video game in javascript and told me and the Mayor that he wants to work for a tech company out of high school. I asked him to send me an email.
This teacher from Information Technology High School in Queens had two teams of students showing software projects in the student showcase. She and her students took a selfie with the Mayor.

The Annual CS Fair would not be possible without the financial support of tech companies who underwrite the expenses. I would like to thank the major sponsors for making this possible.

#hacking education

Comments (Archived):

  1. awaldstein

    Just plain goodness Fred!Your leadership is so noted and appreciated.As a son of a Physicist who believed that science was a way out of poverty, who dedicated his life as a high school teacher at East Side High in Paterson where he grew up, rather than working in industry, this stuff warms my heart.My dad would be so proud of this effort and outcome.

    1. fredwilson

      I am simply paying forward what people like your dad did for me

  2. Mike Zamansky

    With all the headaches that I’m sure you’ve had to deal with in this. Super glad to see you enjoying some of the rewards.I wasn’t there but one of my students was with a small Hunter College contingent.From her perspective it was a great event. The only downside is that she spoke to a bunch of seniors who had never heard of my honors program and unfortunately it’s too late for them to apply now. Got to find a more efficient way of doing outreach.

    1. fredwilson

      Let me write about it here at AVC Mike. Send me a blurb

      1. Mike Zamansky

        Awesome – I’ll send it to you in the early Fall when it will have more of an impact – it’s too late for this season. Thanks

        1. fredwilson

          Great .We have a plan

  3. William Mougayar

    Based on the pics, the diversity of students is noticeable.

    1. awaldstein

      NY as a city looks like the subway.So does this fair.You ride it when in town?

      1. fredwilson

        I rode it back from the fair and it really is the best way to go 200 blocks in a half hour

        1. awaldstein

          Yup kinda magic when it eats up the distance.Aggravates me that there isn’t a more efficient downtown to airport loop like most major cities have though.

        2. Mike Zamansky

          I’d say power assist CitiBike but they don’t quite make it up that far north yet.

      2. jason wright…”A self-identified populist, de Blasio has called attention to what he refers to as a stark level of economic inequality in New York City, what he described as a “tale of two cities” during his first campaign. He has publicly supported a socially liberal and progressive discourse on the city’s economy, urban planning, public education, police relations, and privatization. De Blasio has maintained mixed approval rates throughout his tenure.[nb 1]”

        1. awaldstein

          never been a fan of the mayor.though very socially liberal by nature.

      3. Pointsandfigures

        I do when I can. Keep a prepaid card for NY and SF in my bag

        1. awaldstein

          Cool.Straight shots north and south on the east and west sides are super efficient.Crosstown, especially downtown is bad. CitiBikes are the answer.Ferries are a hopeful note though still disconnected east and west side.

      4. William Mougayar

        Rarely 🙂 but i know that of course. the point is that – it is good to see this diversity extend to the tech sector, which wasn’t obvious nor there a few years ago.

        1. awaldstein

          just curious.big fan of public trans when i travel.ferries btw as a way to get to brooklyn or jersey are really damn good.noticed lots of friends staying in jersey city and ferrying way to get around.

  4. Anja Merret

    Fantastic and well done to you and the organising team. We so need this kind of initiative in South Africa and the rest of Sub-Sahara Africa!

  5. Tom Labus

    Where are those first wave of kids working?

  6. Susan Rubinsky

    Kudos! Great stuff. It’s always nice to pause and appreciate where things are now.

  7. sigmaalgebra

    Modified at 07:37:37 on Thursday, April 4th, 2019.Well, you worked on it; it happened; no doubt you had a lot to do with it happening.What to teach kids in K-12 that will really help them?My guess, academically it’s still just the 3R’s. People have learned the 3R’s with small, slate tablets in one room school houses all the way up to the most expensive prep school and, much better, really good families doing really good home schooling — IMHO by far the best.After that I’d suggest picking up a ball that Melania has been carrying –, to try to describe it, understanding other people, socialization, social skills, social communications skills, etc.For computing, maybe there’s lots of good, important, powerful stuff out there to do, but I’m skeptical: I see “good, important, …” for my startup, but deliberately the crucial core of that is for people who would do such work one in a million, closer to one in 10 million.Maybe here will be a broad direction (has nothing to do with my startup): Take a bigger, better view of, for a poor word for lack of a better one, logistics: So, there are supply chains, order sizes, order delays, inventory, how much where, saving on shipping and inventory costs, …. For some products, “have to sell it or smell it”: I have a friend who long killed and cut into pieces 5000 hogs a day. So, he took delivery one day, killed and chilled them the next, cut, boxed and shipped them the next. The whole chain about has to balance out, from the planting of the corn to … some big city weekend special on pork chops or baby back ribs. But the chain doesn’t balance out very often, and there are severe ups and downs, Maybe with an end to end view, with bidding, contracts, etc. could smooth out the bumps and get some efficiencies. So, LOTS of digital communications, with maybe commonly some client end smartphones. But there’s more: That weekend special on pork is significantly influenced by what beef, chickens, and lambs are doing. Weather? Yup, the weather is important, e.g., can slow down weekend backyard baby back rib parties!But, heck, that’s just a little about pork. In addition, there’s nearly everything in a grocery store, anything sold at retail, nearly anything sold at all. I gotta believe that for any part of such logistics it would be grimly difficult to get data communications, data object definitions, handshaking protocols at various levels, APIs, etc. accepted and deployed end to end in any important, right, lots of different companies, way.Hmm, what about, uh, that famous one word way to win at golf — cheat! So, here, set aside the implicit suggestion that the data essentially follows the paths of the goods as the are shipped and, i.e., working out all the handshaking along that path. and “cheat” by centralizing it all. I.e., like the CME, NYSE, NASDAQ, So, the central guy works out all the handshaking, data object definitions, protocols, APIs, and data CONVERSIONS. So, everyone along the chain is minute by minute in touch with the center: The corn grower, hog breeder, hog farmer, hog truck driver, kill and cut operation, … to Saturday morning shopping with the big rib sale. Beer can chicken, that’s for next week. And TX BBQ flank steak, for the week after that, etc. Could be a LOT of software written for all that! And, should one choose to accept it, a lot of applied math.Yup, SAP was one of the sponsors! Hmm ….Maybe that is one direction for the future.Again, it has nothing to do with my startup!Update:Honest, honest Injun, it wasn’t me; I didn’t do it!I just mentionedlogistics: So, there are supply chains, order sizes, order delays, inventory, how much where, saving on shipping and inventory costs, …. For some products, “have to sell it or smell it”:Could be a LOT of software written for all that! And, should one choose to accept it, a lot of applied math. Then via…at…just noticedA Revolution Sweeping Railroads Upends How America Moves Its Stuff A Revolution Sweeping Railroads Upends How America Moves Its StuffDECATUR, Ill. — Norfolk Southern Corp. executives, employees and customers holed up for five days recently to work on a complex puzzle. How could they unclog a sprawling freight yard in central Illinois without triggering chaos?They asked a multitude of small questions akin to word problems in a math class. Their answers point toward some of the most sweeping changes to the nation’s railroad system in decades.There are 19 rail cars bound for Kansas City that reach Decatur around 7:10 a.m. most days, about two hours before their connecting train. That isn’t enough time to unhook the cars, which are loaded with freight like coiled steel and corn syrup, move them along a grid of tracks, then attach them to the outbound train. So they sit in Decatur for an average of 26 hours — well over Norfolk Southern’s goal of 20. Gee some “math”? A transportation problem in making “connections”? Some “scheduling”?There’s some math for that!! There’s discrete and combinatorial optimization, some network flows, some Lagrangian relaxation, etc.!So, they continue on:Freight railroads generally have operated the same way for more than a century: They wait for cargo and leave when customers are ready. Now railroads want to run more like commercial airlines, where departure times are set. Factories, farms, mines or mills need to be ready or miss their trips. Yes, yes, I know; I know; AVC is about finance. So, what the heck about logistics, math?Hmm … there is alsoCalled “precision-scheduled railroading,” or PSR, this new concept is cascading through the industry. Under pressure from Wall Street to improve performance, Norfolk Southern and other large U.S. freight carriers, including Union Pacific Corp. and Kansas City Southern, are trying to revamp their networks to use fewer trains and hold them to tighter schedules. The moves have sparked a stock rally that has added tens of billions of dollars to railroad values in the past six months as investors anticipate lower costs and higher profits. So, we have”tens of billions of dollars to railroad values”Unicorns! Whole flocks of’em!Hmm???Honest Injun, I didn’t know about or write the article.So, three points:(1) Old Way.Their 100 year old approach was just to let the cars collect until had enough to move and then moved it.(2) Current, Better Way.Having a known, good schedule, e.g., like the airlines do, is better.And developing such a schedule might be able to use some discrete and combinatorial optimization applied math. But may not have to use much such math since don’t want change the schedule very often.(3) Likely Still Better Way.Do the applied math discrete and combinatorial optimization just in time based on recent data about actual loads.Maybe if such stuff catches on, there will be a LOT of software to be written for the kids in the NYC CS3ALL efforts, maybe.

  8. Vasudev Ram

    >That is where the Annual Computer Science Fair comes in.Cool event. I sometimes used to attend the annual exhibition (it’s like a fair) of the Computer Science Department of Pune University on their campus, early in my career. Good fun. Got to see a lot of interesting projects by students. Many of them come up with creative ideas and execute them. I remember one guy or team of two, created a BASIC interpreter in assembly language in just 4K lines of code.

  9. Lawrence Brass

    Congratulations!Very good photos, color, depth, etc… like taken with a real camera. 🙂

  10. Kirsten Lambertsen

    Any observations about the number of young women attending vs past years?

  11. Richard

    Let’s hope these same Highschools are focusing on financial literacy as well! Income doesn’t equal wealth.