California State University San Marcos
Youwen Ouyang, Ph.D., professor of computer science at CSU San Marcos, is recognized for creating innovative computer science education pipelines for women, minorities, historically underserved and first-generation students.
Dr. Ouyang's excellence in promoting student success in STEM has earned her several state and national grants. Most recently, the California Governor's Education Learning Lab granted $1 million to Ouyang and her partners to redesign introductory computer science courses to improve the academic performance of all students, especially those from underrepresented communities.
Using funding from Microsoft, Ouyang founded Women's Hackathon, a 12-hour event providing students from local high schools and colleges the opportunity to work in teams and propose technology solutions for nonprofit organizations. Since 2014 the event has supported more than 400 female students, many of which decided to major in computer science after the experience.
Another example of Ouyang's promotion of computational thinking in young woman is CodeQueens, an afterschool program she created for female high school students to work on coding challenges pertaining to food insecurity and the environment. Funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the program engages CSUSM students to mentor high school students and present their work to industry professionals.
NSF also granted $1 million to Ouyang and her colleague, Marisol Clark-Ibáñez, Ph.D., to provide scholarships for historically underserved, high-performing computer science students. To further the benefits of the scholarships, Ouyang and Dr. Clark-Ibáñez launched a semester-long hackathon to prepare students for internship positions by the end of the scholarship period.
“[As] a first-generation Latina student entering the field of computer science, the number of familiar faces in my classes were pretty much zero. Thanks to Dr. Ouyang, I maintained high confidence and enthusiasm for computer science and eventually software engineering," says Marissa Beltran, CSUSM student and Google Engineering Practicum intern.