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October 12, 2018

The Department of Computer Science hosted 400 participants at its third annual Middle School and High School Open House in September. Attendees had the opportunity to participate in hands-on research demonstrations, visit research labs, talk to current undergraduate and graduate students, and learn how to explore computer science before college.

The open house covered three floors in Sitterson Hall and Brooks Building. Research demonstrations included five virtual reality experiences, including hardware devices like the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift; five natural language processing projects to automatically generate captions or answer questions about videos and summarize, simplify, or fact-check text; two robots that facilitate medical procedures and in-home assistance; a driving simulator that collects data about the driver; several games created by undergraduate students during weekend hackathons; a 3D printer; and more. Student clubs were in attendance to talk about student life and efforts to make computer science more inclusive. Demonstrations were provided by both undergraduate and graduate students, and many of the research labs in the buildings were open to attendees.

High school students and their parents could also sign up for one of three hour-long information sessions focused on the undergraduate computer science programs. The information sessions included a Q&A session with current undergraduate students and were hosted by Department Chair Kevin Jeffay.

“As a computer science department at a public university, we feel a responsibility to open our field to as many people as possible,” Jeffay said. “We hope that this event will jump-start an interest in computer science for many of the attendees.”

Jeffay encouraged students interested in computer science to take the most challenging math courses available to them in middle school and high school. A student explains his NLP demo titled Document SimplificationAlthough many of the students at the open house will not enroll at UNC-Chapel Hill, Jeffay said that the information presented at the event will help students in any computer science program and that there are a number of strong programs at other North Carolina universities.

The Middle School and High School Open House is one of the department’s two open house outreach events held each year. If you are interested in learning more about computer science at UNC, we invite you to join us during the UNC Science Expo in spring 2019.

For more information on applying to UNC-Chapel Hill as an undergraduate student, visit