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Los Angeles Computing Circle Takes Off in UCLA Electrical Engineering

laccLos Angeles Computing Circle (LACC) is a new outreach program aimed at promoting careers in electrical and computer engineering among talented high-schoolers. LACC program is created by Electrical Engineering Professors Lara Dolecek, Puneet Gupta and Mani Srivastava under the umbrella of a recently NSF-funded, multi-university, Expeditions in Computing project.

LACC program uniquely combines classroom teaching, hands-on experimental work, challenging programming exercises and carefully tailored independent research projects.  Instead of an abstract focus on a specific programming language such as Java, LACC seeks to put computing in context of its real-world applications, its algorithmic foundations, and the relationship of software to the underlying computing hardware substrate. 


As such, instead of focusing on language features, LACC modules and projects expose students to topics on how algorithms and programming come together to create systems, including: search engines and social networks that mine and analyze relationships among data and people on the Internet; cyber-physical systems such as robots that interact with the environment via sensors, actuators, and real-time software; networked computing systems such as mobile phones that communicate with other nodes on the Internet; and signal processing systems that process, manipulate, and make inferences from audio, video, and other types of physical  data. “LACC provides  high-school students with a first-hand  opportunity to be a part of a multi-disciplinary, cutting edge research project,” says Professor Mani Srivastava.


The very first LACC program was completed with great success this summer. The program was held in conjunction with the on-going outreach effort High School Summer Research Program (HSSRP) at the UCLA's School of Engineering. “LACC program uniquely complements the on-going HSSRP program, and I look forward to future joint efforts between HSSRP and LACC” say Mr. William Herrera, Education and Outreach Coordinator at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering.


Eight high-schoolers from all over California participated in an intensive 8-week LACC program, held from June 27th to August 19th. LACC summer students worked in the labs of the three founding professors, were taught various aspects of programming through specially designed teaching modules and challenging programming assignments, and were also guest lectured by prominent EE faculty.  


While no prior programming experience was assumed, all the students were able to quickly grasp many computing concepts and subsequently apply them to their own research projects. The program culminated with the poster session were LACC students along with other HSSRP participants show-cased their research findings, with titles of individual research projects ranging from Investigating the Robustness of Numerical Representations to Analyzing Neurofeedback Using Electroecenphalongraphy to Characterizing Social Influence on Twitter.


“During my experience at LACC, I learned more than I ever thought I could possibly learn in such a short amount of time.  I also had more fun than I thought I would doing academic related activities.  After my amazing experience at LACC, I know I am definitely going to pursue engineering, more specifically electrical engineering, in college and as a career in the future,” says LACC summer participant Brianna Loo.


As a testament to the summer success, several of LACC students are eager to continue working in our research labs during the academic year. 

 lacc2Critical to the continued success of LACC are the many graduate an undergraduate student volunteers who help develop and deliver the lecture material and supervise the research projects.As a result, our new outreach program creates a close-knit community of LACC participants, their graduate and undergraduate student mentors, and UCLA faculty. 


The next offering of the LACC program is scheduled for Winter-Spring 2012. 


For more information see  Here is the link to the CCLE LACC application website.


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