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April 30, 2020

UNC Computer Science sponsors 19 student clubs and organizations, highlighting the breadth of student interest across the field, as well as the desire for engagement within the student community. Student-led events and programs have gone through transformations throughout the years, while the large cornerstone events remain consistent, such as hackathons – HackNC and Pearl Hacks – each held annually. As student clubs continue to expand on their programming, the department also supports these new events, keeping up with the growing major, student and industry interests, technology, and the future of computer science.

This spring featured a new student-led event, AfroPix. Sponsored by Black in Technology (BiT), AfroPix was held on Saturday, April 18. The goal of the event was to celebrate Black coders, providing an inclusive environment for all majors, all students, and all levels of experience to engage in networking, as well as workshops and seminars, culminating in case competitions that highlight how tech can support discovery across disciplines. Despite having to pivot quickly to a virtual environment in a matter of weeks, AfroPix was reimagined with great success.

The virtual event consisted of an online keynote address by Capital One Senior Director of Cyber Intelligence Devon Rollins and panel discussion with industry professionals from Capital One, Cisco, Optum Health, Accenture, Microsoft, SAS, and Vanguard. The event was attended by nearly 100 students from more than 50 universities across the country.

In the keynote address, Devon Rollins offered advice and perspective to students, sharing messages of encouragement that supported both personal and professional growth, and challenged participants to see the connection between the two. Rollins asked participants to reimagine mentorship, placing value not only on being mentored, but also on the responsibility to mentor others. Rollins asked participants to consider how they plant seeds in other people and reminded students that, “where you are is where some people want to finish.” The full keynote address can be viewed online.

As the students begin to plan for AfroPix 2021, there is excitement for launching the planned event in full, as this virtual event serves as a preview of what is to come.

In addition to AfroPix, the 2020-21 academic year will look to welcome two new student club-led hackathon events, queerhack and HackReality. As the university continues to provide guidance regarding the fall semester and on-campus events, student club leaders continue to creatively plan and innovate to keep the sense of community within their clubs and the greater UNC CS student body moving forward.