UPE honored for teaching community to code

By Nicole Stone/Assistant News Director


Considering that we hold tiny computers that fit in the palm of our hands and our pockets, technology has progressed in leaps and bounds from the physical media we once heavily relied on according to Cesar Villa Garcia, president of Upsilon Pi Epsilon.

“Technology is omnipresent. It’s everywhere nowadays… everything is done electronically. So learning computer science is very important,” Garcia, a senior computer science major said.

UPE, FIU’s computer science honor society, is focused on extending workshop opportunities to work with and learn about technology to its members and the community.

One of UPE’s major programs, the Software and Hardware development program, allows participants to work on computer science skills such as creating one’s first website, or developing a mobile app. Every week a new topic is discussed.

“Pretty much anyone can come from the community can come to the activities and learn how to code,” Garcia said.

UPE was recognized for its community service by Student Affairs in March, receiving the Outstanding Service Award. Recipients of this award speak to “the impact and outcomes of the service on the individuals and/or community served,” according to the Student Affairs website.

This award, Garcia said, was reserved for the organization which provided the most opportunities to students on campus. In addition to UPE’s weekly workshops, the chapter also offers its annual Hack-a-thon,a 36 hour event where teams of students of all skill levels develop a software or hardware product.

Every week, through a Google sponsored program called Google Ignite CS, UPE also sends about fifty members to elementary schools to teach coding, something Garcia feels will very strongly benefit anyone.

“Coding teaches you how to think logically and in a problem solving manner. When you code you create algorithms and learn how to solve different problems,” he said. “It teaches you those problem solving skills and reinforces that pinnacle aspect of working with computers and technology. I think that’s really important…”

Computer science, Garcia added, is not exclusive to coding or computer hardware but extends to website design, social media, online presence, and even just learning to use a computer.

Also in March, FIU’s chapter of UPE was also honored as the Top Large National Chapter by the UPE association during a national conference in Ft. Lauderdale, out-competing 270 chapters in the nation, according to Garcia.

“We were very excited. We were all super happy with all the accomplishments and the recognition we’ve been getting for the programs we’ve been doing. What’s most rewarding to us is seeing how much students have been growing and learning all these different skills and putting them to use,” he said.

FIU’s chapter had received the award once before in 2015, however, at the time, it was still classified as a small chapter. Growing Upsilon Pi Epsilon’s numbers has been one of Garcia’s priorities since joining the organization in his freshman year in 2014.

Garcia told Student Media that when he joined, the chapter had about ten or fifteen people, but this past year its numbers had grown to 500 members.

Many students involved with UPE have actually secured internships with technology leaders such as Microsoft and Google, according to Garcia.

“For us, it’s really cool to see how all the work we’re putting into the community is being rewarded and people are actually able to land these jobs and be successful.”

Garcia’s own journey with computer science began his freshman year with a switch in his major from graphic design. But one thing stayed the same, according to Garcia, and that was his love for technology.

“Since I was really little I loved technology, loved computers, loved all these little gadgets and playing with them,” he said.

UPE will start recruiting new members during orientation for the Fall Semester.


Featured image retrieved from Unsplash

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