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Corps Process and Components
In a STARS Leadership Corps, students begin their participation in August at the STARS Celebration, the annual gathering of the STARS Computing Corps that is a Call to Action to broadening participation in computing by advancing yourself and advancing others. Students and faculty attend the conference as part of a home-team cohort from their school. The conference prepares students to undertake Leadership Projects during the upcoming academic year as part of the Corps at their school.
STARS institutions implement the Corps as either a curricular (e.g., credit-bearing service learning course) or co-curricular program (e.g., a club, student organization, or to fulfill program or departmental service requirements). In either case, the Corps serves to put a common wrapper around a diverse array of Leadership Projects, many of which are existing programs that have been enhanced by the addition of college students. The common wrapper includes a seminar series addressing the STARS core values, an outreach/service component consisting of Leadership Project teams, a written component (written reflections on service activities), and an oral component (presentations as part of outreach or to disseminate outreach outcomes).
Leadership Projects are the centerpiece of the Corps and provide many opportunities for applied, socially relevant, mastery experiences. Leadership Projects catalyze regional partnerships by engaging students in outreach to K-12 schools and community organizations, often in partnership with computing professionals who are volunteers. For example, Corps teams do Road Show presentations to middle and high school students to convey the breadth and excitement of computing. Teams also create socially relevant websites for nonprofit organizations or assist computing professionals and faculty in delivering after-school and weekend computing camps for kids. The structure produces “stair-step” role models within a vertical community spanning K-12, higher education, and the workforce.
Project objectives are for students to:
- Develop the ability to create technology-based solutions to community problems.
- Practice technical, communication, and leadership skills within the context of a community-based project.
Leadership teams may have a technical specialty such as robotics, game design, or mobile applications. Outreach projects should incorporate the specialty (e.g., robotics demonstrations or hands-on activities, robotics-in-our-culture presentations) and can also include non-specialty based activities (e.g., High School or Middle School Roadshows). Students work within a small team on a semester-long leadership project. Most team projects will target the following audiences:
- K-12: inform, motivate and prepare pre-college students for entry into computing undergraduate programs.
- Other college students: inform undecided majors and motivate computing majors and transfer students for entry into graduate school or computing careers.
The Corps Seminar Series is the curricular component that supports the Leadership Projects and student teams. Each STARS institution offers the seminar as a credit-bearing course or as a co-curricular activity required for all Corps students. Topics covered include team effectiveness and project management training, technical skills development, “soft leadership” skills, and formal and informal communications. The Corps seminar series also builds community and engagement by bringing together undergraduate students, graduate students, computing faculty and professionals regularly for face-to-face interactions.
Seminar objectives are for students to:
- Develop technical, team, and leadership skills related to success in Computing
- Become aware of curricular and co-curricular activities to advance T-shaped skills.
Seminars include facilitated discussions, invited speakers, panels, and lab tours with a focus on professional skills development and an introduction to careers and graduate school options.
Together, the Leadership Projects and the Seminar Series are designed to develop students’ “T-shaped” professional skills through student-led regional engagement. The 21st century technology workforce requires students with deep technical skills (vertical part of the T) along with broad interpersonal skills and an understanding of how to create technology-based solutions (horizontal part of the T).
STARS Participant Schools