Computer Science Department Collaborates with Google on Mentorship Program

The computer science department at Stuyvesant is collaborating with Google to provide an opportunity for juniors and seniors to work with Google engineers.

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The computer science (CS) department at Stuyvesant is collaborating with Google to provide an opportunity for juniors and seniors to work with Google engineers through a mentorship program at the New York City Google Offices, which are located on W 16th St and 8th Ave.

CS Coordinator JonAlf Dyrland Weaver organized the program over the last six months. The idea originated from a similar program last year, in which the computer science department collaborated with TwoSigma, a company that applies technology to trading and finance. Students met with data scientists every Wednesday and learned techniques for manipulating data, ultimately ending the program with a capstone presentation.

The TwoSigma program was promoted to students taking computer science classes and attracted many students looking to pursue a career in CS. “I was considering majoring in CS in college, and I wanted to see one way that CS could be used in industry,” Tiffany Moi (‘18), who attended the TwoSigma program, said in an e-mail interview.

The program helped students gain a sense of what many CS careers are actually like. “The program gave me a new perspective on CS and how it applies in the ‘real world.’ I now see programming as a powerful tool that allows you to analyze and find trends that you normally wouldn't see by just quickly glancing over endless lines of data,” Moi said. “This [...] pushed me to approach CS with a more interdisciplinary mindset in college.”

The process of creating a similar program, StuyXGoogle, began when a parent contacted Principal Eric Contreras after learning about the TwoSigma program. “The parent thought that there could be an interesting partnership with Google because their locations are at a convenient distance, and our CS students are very capable of doing interesting things worth the time of Google engineers,” Weaver said.

After Google agreed to collaborate with Stuyvesant’s CS department, many students were eager to be involved, and the program received numerous applications.

Students were attracted to the prospect of working with engineers from a prominent company like Google while pursuing projects they were passionate about. “I became interested in StuyXGoogle because I was interested in working on a project related to AI or machine learning, and I thought this program would be a really good opportunity to get the resources to do a project like this,” junior Aditi Haiman, who was accepted into StuyXGoogle, said in an e-mail interview.

Students had to submit a two-page proposal with ideas they wanted to research or create. “I had all of those proposals, and I had a chance to look over them based on things like how good the proposal was,” Weaver said. “In a few cases there were very similar concepts, so it was [...] difficult to pick just one.” He narrowed down the proposals based on quality, uniqueness, and thoroughness, then sent them to Google for a final decision.

The selected students will work together in groups of two to four people, developing their projects both outside of school and during sessions with their mentors during the week at the Google office. At the end of the semester, students will unveil their work at a closing event.

Students are excited to both participate in the program and work with Google engineers. “I am looking forward to visiting Google headquarters and seeing the available resources for my group's project, learning more about real-life applications of computer science, and being able to create a product under the mentorship of a Google employee,” Haiman said.

The program is not guaranteed to continue afterward, but it is possible. “If all goes well and the Google people find it a worthwhile endeavor, we will do it again for the spring semester,” Weaver said. If the program is available next semester, new applicants will be selected.

Because this program is new, information from this semester will be used to determine what aspects of the program went well and what needs improvement. “We are hoping that this becomes a really nice program, but we don’t know what form it is going to take. This is our trial time,” Weaver said.