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Computer Science Department Expands Teaching Faculty to Accommodate Higher Enrollments

Department Recruits Leo Porter, Expert in Measuring Student Learning

Undergraduate enrollment in 2014-15

Undergraduate enrollment in 2014-15 will top 2,000 students for the first time.

The department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of California, San Diego will continue growing its undergraduate enrollment in the 2014-’15 academic year. The number of new freshman students is expected to be up 36 percent compared to last year and new transfer students up 24 percent. For the first time, total undergraduate enrollment will top 2,000, up nearly seven percent. To accommodate the growth, CSE announced the hiring of Leo Porter to be an Assistant Teaching Professor, the second such hire following the arrival of Mia Minnes earlier in the summer.

Indeed, Porter is the CSE department’s sixth faculty hire of 2014. In addition to Minnes, new arrivals include assistant professors George Porter, Daniel M. Kane and Julian McAuley, and full professor Ravi Ramamoorthi.

Leo Porter

Leo Porter, an expert in measuring student learning, is one of six new faculty members hired by the Computer Science and Engineering department in 2014.

Until recently, Leo Porter was an assistant professor of computer science at Skidmore College. He is a UC San Diego alumnus (M.S. '07, Ph.D. '11) who did his doctoral dissertation under CSE Prof. Dean Tullsen. The topic: “Single Thread Performance in the Multi-Core Era,” and Porter continued to collaborate with Tullsen after graduation on multi-core, multi-thread computer architectures. he also collaborated with the late Allan Snavely at the San Diego Supercomputer Center on scheduling in high-performance computing, and Porter continues to work with Snavely’s San Diego startup, EP Analytics.

Since receiving his Ph.D., however, the bulk of Porter’s publications have been in the field of computer-science education research, often with CSE professor Beth Simon. While at Skidmore, Porter and UCSD’s Simon won the best-paper award at the 2013 Technical Symposium of the Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE). Their joint SIGCSE paper was titled, “Retaining Nearly One-Third More Majors with a Trio of Instructional Best Practices in CS1.” The trio of practices included peer instruction, pair programming, and a media computation context for teaching introductory computer science.

As co-principal investigator on an NSF grant for peer instruction in computer science, Porter works with other faculty on how to use peer instruction as a “student-centric pedagogy which uses targeted conceptual questions (often with clickers) to identify student understanding.” In addition to CS1, peer instruction and clickers in the classroom, his other research interests in computer-science education include active learning, program evaluation, flipped classrooms, and concept inventories. Prior to the announcement of his new job, Porter was back on the UC San Diego campus July 21-23, when he joined Beth Simon and Stanford’s Cynthia Bailey Lee as instructors for a Peer Instruction Faculty Workshop in the CSE auditorium. Porter recently co-authored a paper on peer instruction in computing that demonstrates the value of instructor intervention, which was published in the February 2014 issue of the journal Computers & Education.

This fall, Porter will be teaching one of his favorite courses, CSE 141 – Introduction to Computer Architecture. “I’m excited to be working with UCSD students again,” said Porter. “I also look forward to bringing the lessons learned in my computer science education research to my classes at UCSD.”

Porter did his undergraduate degree at the University of San Diego, earning a B.A. in computer science in 2000. From then until enrolling in grad school at UC San Diego in 2004, he was a surface warfare officer and veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, primarily posted aboard the USS Milius destroyer from the U.S. Navy’s Pacific fleet.