Christina Gardner-McCune, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Department of Computer & Information Science & Engineering, recently received the Faculty Career Influencer Award from the University of Florida Career Connections Center (C3).
The UF Career Influencer Awards celebrate the collaboration and innovation of C3 partners who have had an exceptional impact on career development and career engagements during the preceding academic year. The awards were presented recently at the 2020 Career Engagement Summit. The faculty award recognizes a faculty member who has championed the career development of students at the university through collaboration or mentorship.
Dr. Gardner-McCune has focused on undergraduate career development for over five years through her teaching, research, and mentorship. Her research focuses on computer science education and human-centered computing.
In Summer 2019, Dr. Gardner-McCune spent time at Google as one of 21 Google Faculty-in-Residence Fellows. While there she focused on learning industry-relevant software engineering and development skills and practices with the goal of identifying and integrating industry practices for software development into the classroom experience for students. Upon returning to UF in Fall 2019, Dr. Gardner-McCune integrated some of those skills and practices into her software engineering course.
“As a part of the software engineering course, I aim to give students practical experiences that help them develop professionally,” Dr. Gardner-McCune said. “Prior to Google, I have achieved this through providing students with industry-sponsored projects, working with clients to gather requirements, and developing real software to help solve problems for companies, local nonprofits, entrepreneurs, city government, and faculty. My experiences at Google have deepened my understanding of the needs of industry and the skills our students need to develop through code reviews, continuous integration, and project management.”
Dr. Gardner-McCune, who is the advisor of the Software Engineering Club, said she also held several workshops for student organizations to help participants understand the kind of skills companies are looking for and how they can incrementally develop these skills during their time at UF. She said she also offered students the opportunity to do mock technical interviews, both in-person and online, so that they could practice answering questions on whiteboards and Google docs while verbalizing their thinking.
“As a professor, I am used to doing these things. But, for students, these skills aren’t really part of their coursework,” Dr. Gardner-McCune said. “We teach them how to program. We teach them data structures and algorithms and problem-solving. But solving problems live in front of an audience and verbally articulating their problem-solving is a very different skill. I wanted to help our students develop these skills.”
Dr. Gardner-McCune was also recently appointed as a member of the ACM Education Advisory Committee (EAC) for a three-year term. The committee is a taskforce-based, networking-oriented environment whose aim is to promote ACM’s educational mission to as wide a range of constituencies as possible: universities, community colleges, high schools, corporations, and the U.S. government. Dr. Gardner-McCune will serve on the Ethics in Computing Education task force, which is focused on identifying resources and providing guidance for faculty inside and outside of computing on ethical topics in computer science and other disciplines in which students should be well versed.
“I hope to leverage my experiences teaching software engineering, developing K-12 guidelines for AI and ethics, providing cybersecurity outreach, and broadening participation in computing to highlight new areas of ethics that faculty can integrate into their teaching to help prepare students to deal with the wide range of ethical issues they will face in their careers,” Dr. Gardner-McCune said.
Dr. Gardner-McCune earned her Ph.D. in computer science from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2011. She received her master’s degree in computer science from the Georgia Institute of Technology and her bachelor’s degree in computer engineering from Syracuse University. She has been a faculty member in CISE since 2014.
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