Cal State Fullerton’s Women in Computer Science and Engineering program, also known as WICSE, strives to encourage women to pursue their bachelor’s degree in engineering and computer science.
Beth Harnick-Shapiro, a lecturer in the school of Engineering and Computer Science and program’s advisor, said the program’s main goal is to create a community, specifically for first-year and transfer students.
“We create a community for that intro sort of sequence when students are new to Cal State Fullerton,” Harnick-Shapiro said. “We also provide mentoring opportunities for our second, third and fourth-year students, so that they can continue to be part of our community, and engage with the students as they're coming in.”
Taylor Livingston, a senior student assistant of WISCE and computer science and business administration major, said the program has helped her connect with other women in the male-dominated field.
“It's very rare, seeing women in the field. And for myself alone, being a woman of color too. It's very rare seeing me studying computer science, so being able to connect with women in that field, knowing it's very rare to see that, was really cool and really refreshing,” Livingston said.
She added that she enjoys helping other women as a student assistant and being able to meet others in her field.
“I'm not bragging or anything, being able to have that role to help other females within the engineering and computer science program, knowing where they're at, and relating it to where I was at at the time, and being able to help them has just been so enlightening,” Livingston said.
The WICSE program gives students the opportunity to join other clubs and organizations within the field and gives them the opportunity to meet others who are in the industry.
Harnick-Shapiro said the program has guest speakers and during the spring they take students to visit different companies. She added that although it has been reduced because of the pandemic, they have not been able to visit in person, but they still continue to work with the companies to recruit students.
“We still work with various companies who are interested in recruiting our students and getting to know more about the women in computer science and engineering at Cal State Fullerton,” Harnick-Shapiro said.
Arely De Leon, a computer science major and WISCE computer science tutor, said the program has helped her and provided her with her current job as a tutor.
“It's given me my job that I have right now. I've got to meet a lot of professionals in our field, got to make several friends, just like a good community and good opportunities,” De Leon said.
The resources that WISCE provides for its students include weekly in person and virtual meetings, skill-building opportunities, introduces students to the entrepreneur in residence and the programs available as an entrepreneur in residence. The program also has a tutor available that works in the Success Center.
Sirena Salas, a computer science major and student assistant and leader at WISCE, said the program has helped her grow as a person and helped her self confidence.
“My confidence has skyrocketed. My ability to problem solve has increased and improved as well just from having the sense of support and the opportunities it's connected me to have all helped me become this person I'm excited to like be and go into a career with,” Salas said.
Harnick-Shapiro said she invites any women to participate in WICSE whether they are computer science or engineering majors or minors.
“WICSE is available for anybody who might be exploring the possibility of engineering or computer science as a major or minor. This is a chance for you to get to know more about the disciplines that maybe you don't know,” Shapiro said.
The only requirement to join the WICSE program is that students identify as a woman or support women in computer science and engineering.