Community Engaged CS

CS 186-02 • Fall 2019


Special Topics: Community Engaged CS

CS 186-02 • Fall 2019 • 2 Credits

This course provides a structured opportunity for students to learn and participate in the departmental and local technical communities on and off campus. The course features activities including guest speakers from the local tech industry; faculty research talks; presentations by the campus career center and similar organizations; field trips to local meetup events; and opportunities for students to socialize and build relationships with one another.

Course Details

This section provides basic details for this course, including the lecture times, instructor, prerequisites, and more.


This course meets once a week as follows:

CS 186-02 (CRN 42640)
4:45pm – 6:20pm
Lo Schiavo Science G12

Some activities may occur outside of the scheduled class time. See below for details.


The course instructor and office hours will be as follows:

Sophie Engle
Tuesdays, Thursdays
2:45pm – 4:15pm
Harney Science 412B


Requires instructor approval. Must be an incoming first-year CS major.

Required Materials


Important Dates

Below are important dates relevant to this class (in addition to normally scheduled lectures):

Date Description
Mon Aug 26 First day of class; last day to add class online
Mon Sep 02 Labor Day holiday (no class)
Fri Sep 06 Census Date; last day to drop class without a "W" appearing on transcript
Mon Oct 14 Fall Break (no class)
Fri Nov 01 Last day to withdraw from class and receive a "W" on transcript
Mon Dec 02 Last day of class
Thu Dec 05 CS Night celebration; students must attend in lieu of a final exam

See the course schedule and Academic Calendar for other important dates.


This section discusses what students can expect to learn in this course.


By the end of this course, students will be able to:

  • Describe on-campus support provided by the CS Department and University
  • Engage with technical communities on and off campus
  • Improve in-class oral communication skills

This course counts towards general electives. It does not count towards the CS major or minor.


The majority of class time is dedicated to guest lectures. Some topics or activities may include:

Department Community
  • Guest lectures or panels from faculty
  • Guest lectures or panels from alumni
  • Guest lectures or panels from student groups, such as Women in Tech, Diversineers, or ACM
  • Guest lectures or panels from department groups, such as CS Tutoring Center, or CS Support
University Community
Local Community
  • Guest speakers or panels from local tech companies
  • Attending field trips to local tech companies
  • Attending local meetups or technical conferences


This section discusses how the learning outcomes for this course will be assessed.


The course requirements are broken into several categories. As long as all categories remain above a 60%, the final grade is determined by the following breakdown:

Percent Category


Class Attendance
Students must attend class. Students must be present for at least 90% of the class time to earn attendance credit.


Participation Assignments
Students must complete weekly pass/fail participation assignments throughout the semester. Example assignments include providing presentation feedback, posting questions for an invited speaker, and occasionally responding to surveys.


Class Presentation
Students must complete a 10 minute in-class presentation on a significant figure, organization, or event in Computer Science. This category includes several pass/fail assignments: selecting a presentation topic, submitting slides (or other presentation materials) ahead of time, optionally visiting the Speaking Center in preparation for the presentation, and delivering the presentation in class.


Community Engagement
Students must attend several mandatory community engagement activities outside of class. The breakdown of these activities is as follows:

10% Students must attend 1 on-campus event offered by the CS department and 1 on-campus event offered by any organization affiliated with USF. Example events include CS department events, Career Services Center events, speaker series hosted by other departments, and social events hosted by the USF or College of Arts and Sciences.
10% Students must attend 1 off-campus technical event in the local San Francisco Bay area. Events include local meetups, academic or industry conferences, hackathons, and Tech Treks to local tech companies organized by the Career Services Center. These events must be pre-approved by the instructor.
5% Students must attend CS Night in lieu of a final exam at the end of the semester. CS Night may not be used for the other on-campus event requirements.

Students are highly encouraged to attend these events in groups of 3 to 5 students. Groups may be arranged on Piazza.

  Students may discuss alternative community engagement activities with the instructor if attendance at these events causes undue hardship. These arrangements must be made before Fall Break. Late requests will be denied unless there is an exceptional circumstance.

Students must earn above a 60% in each category to pass the course. If one or more categories fall below 60%, then an “F” letter grade is automatically assigned regardless of the percentage score.

Grading Scale

As long as all grade categories remain above a 60%, the final grade is determined by the following letter grade and GPA scale:

Letter GPA
97% ≤ A+ < 100% 4.0
94% ≤ A < 97% 4.0
90% ≤ A– < 94% 3.7
87% ≤ B+ < 90% 3.3
84% ≤ B < 87% 3.0
80% ≤ B– < 84% 2.7
77% ≤ C+ < 80% 2.3
74% ≤ C < 77% 2.0
70% ≤ C– < 74% 1.7
67% ≤ D+ < 70% 1.3
64% ≤ D < 67% 1.0
60% ≤ D– < 64% 0.7
0% ≤ F < 60% 0.0

Non-satisfactory grades are highlighted in red. See the Undergraduate Regulations for more about letter grades and GPA.

Course Policies

This section includes miscellaneous policies specific to this course. These policies are in addition to the standard USF policies included later.


This project is being funded by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1833718. As part of grant expectations, an evaluation of project usefulness and impact will be conducted. All participants are requested to participate in the project evaluation.

This includes sharing your name and USF email address with SmartStart Evaluation and Research, which is conducting the external evaluation of this program. They will contact you to participate in one or more surveys.

Please participate. The information you provide to the external evaluators will not impact your grades at the University of San Francisco in any way. These surveys are to evaluate our program (the course) and not you (the student). Your participation will help us both improve and continue this program.


All course-related communication will be handled using Piazza—a FERPA-compliant Q&A platform that supports public, anonymous, and private posts. When making posts on Piazza, please keep the following in mind:

  • Make a public post when appropriate. You can post anonymously. Your classmates will not be able to see your identity for anonymous posts, but instructors will still be able to see your name. If you make a private post that should be public, you will be asked to create a new public anonymous post before receiving an answer.

  • Make posts specific to you or your grades private to the instructor. This replaces directly emailing the instructor regarding the course. If you email the instructor directly, you will be asked to make a private post on Piazza before receiving an answer.

In addition to Piazza, the instructor will also use Canvas to notify students of missing assignments or warn about low grades. You may also ask for help in-person during office hours or during class time.

Late Policy

Late work is not accepted. Instead, students may request makeup opportunities for missed in-class attendance or participation assignments. No more than 2 requests will be granted per student.


Students must attend the weekly seminars and the mandatory community engagement activities outside of class.

Misrepresenting attendance at an outside of class event is a violation of the University’s Honor Code. See below for the consequences of honor code violations.

Honor Code Violations

All students are expected to know and adhere to the University’s Honor Code (see “Academic Integrity” below). In short, students must never misrepresent their work. Examples of honor code violations include (but are not limited to):

  • Lying about your attendance or participation in outside of class activities

  • Having anyone other than yourself complete your work (including classmates and tutors)

  • Copying and pasting content without attribution from the web (or from anywhere)

Flagrant or repeat violations of the honor code will result in an F in the course, a report to the Academic Integrity Committee (AIC), and a report to the Dean. At the discretion of the instructor, a less severe penalty may be imposed for minor or first offenses. This is at the sole discretion of the instructor and any violation may result in an F in the course.

Credit Hour Policy

Courses at the University of San Francisco must comply with the Credit Hour Policy, which states:

“One unit of credit in lecture, seminar, and discussion work should approximate one hour of direct faculty instruction and a minimum of two hours of out-of-class student work per week through one 15-week semester.”

As this is a 2 credit course, students should spend a minimum of 4 hours of work outside of class per week to earn a passing grade. This requirement will be fulfilled via community engagement activities held outside of class time and various participation assignments.

Policy Exceptions

Exceptions to most course policies are made only in the case of verifiable exceptional circumstances. This includes medical emergencies, mental health and well-being crises, or family-related emergencies. Extensions should be arranged prior to the original deadline unless in case of extreme emergency (such as an emergency room visit).

  Have travel plans for a family event (such as a wedding), conference (such as Grace Hopper), or an internship interview? Contact the instructor ahead of time to make arrangements. Keep in mind you will be asked to submit assignments early and make up any missed participation activities. Please note exceptions will not be made for other events (such as concerts, comic cons, and so on).

University Policies

This section includes standard statements on University policies and resources.

Students with Disabilities

If you are a student with a disability or disabling condition, or if you think you may have a disability, please contact USF Student Disability Services (SDS) for information about accommodations.

Behavioral Expectations

All students are expected to behave in accordance with the Student Conduct Code and other University policies.

Academic Integrity

USF upholds the standards of honesty and integrity from all members of the academic community. All students are expected to know and adhere to the University’s Honor Code.

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)

CAPS provides confidential, free counseling to student members of our community.

Confidentiality, Mandatory Reporting, and Sexual Assault

For information and resources regarding sexual misconduct or assault visit the Title IX coordinator or USF’s Callisto website.