Fostering connections to the local economy and providing students with professional development opportunities are among the goals for a new campus workspace scheduled to open in the Whitman College Technology Services building in January. The CS@W (computer science at Whitman) Coding Space—created in partnership with and supported by a grant from the Port of Walla Walla—will be tailored to students working on computer science projects.
According to Director of Grants and Foundation Relations Rachna Sinnott '93, the port's objectives of promoting local economic development and attracting technology companies to the Walla Walla Valley dovetail with a Whitman strategic priority—community engagement.
"This is a great opportunity for Whitman to strengthen its ties to the local colleges and the community at large," Sinnott said. "There may be opportunities for cross-college collaboration, jobs or internships with local businesses or organizations, support for students starting their own companies, and outreach to kids in the community."
Computer science became the college's 46th major this academic year. As well as serving Whitman's 16 computer science majors, the coding space will be open to non-majors and students from Walla Walla University and Walla Walla Community College.
The space will enable "students seeking tech industry careers to pursue their own co-curricular projects," said Janet Davis, associate professor of computer science and adviser for the CS@W Club, a group which "seeks to support students in developing their own projects."
Davis hopes that the coding space will encourage startup ventures and provide a jumping-off point for those interested in careers in computer science and related fields.
The coding space's design—inspired by other coding, co-working or "hacker" spaces that provide communal, creative working environments for those in the tech industry—will include areas for group and individual work, for brainstorming and for socializing. This should "facilitate informal collaborations in a non-academic setting," Davis added.
"I am interested in technology in a broad sense because it is so rapidly changing, which is exciting," said Yarden Blausapp '18, a mathematics major and computer science minor from Vashon, Washington.
"I think the coding space will offer a more relaxed environment to work on personal coding projects, in addition to working on projects for school," Blausapp added. "I see myself collaborating with others there and using the space for CS@W events and workshops."