By: Haiyi (Yvette) Gong
If you missed the first-ever student orientation hosted by the Computer & Mathematical Sciences Department (CMS), here’s a debrief of what happened on September 9th. This blog will summarize all the exciting activities that happened during the orientation, including panels with the CMS faculty and alumni, a special keynote with Professor Fleet, CMS student club introductions, and more so that you wouldn’t miss out on the fun that we had.
Meet & Greet and Scavenger Hunt
To kick start this meaningful event, we began with a Meet n’ Greet activity at the IC Atrium. While enjoying some delicious catered sandwiches and snacks, the first years had the chance to network within the CMS community and connect with peers that share the same passion. From all the smiling faces and laughter in the Atrium, it was evident that our orientation was off to a great start!
As the audience warmed up, eight student leaders from the CMS Student Leader Committee introduced themselves on stage. These eight students were senior students who are currently studying in the disciplines of Computer Science, Mathematics, and Statistics, and they took the initiative to guide our first year students through the completion of this challenge. The Scavenger Hunt was designed to have the first years explore our beautiful campus and find out some interesting facts about UTSC while having the opportunity to connect with their upper year leaders. Finally, to conclude this activity, every team put together a creative CMS cheer, for which the top two best cheers won Starbucks gift cards as a treat from the CMS Department for contributing to our new department cheer!
Introduction to the CMS Department
The second component of the CMS Orientation took place in IC130, the largest lecture hall on the UTSC campus. The Department Chair, Professor Molloy shared his warm welcome to the newly enrolled CMS students and gave a brief introduction to our department and Administrative Team.
Next, we moved to panel sessions with faculty and alumni where the floor was left open for additional questions from the students. Students asked various questions such as “How to effectively study for university” and “What are some recommended courses not to miss?” so that they could get a head start in their new academic journey. In addition, our MCs for this session pre-collected the five most frequently asked questions and shared their answers with the first years, so they could hit the ground running and avoid some common mistakes that the senior students have made. Some key tips included:
- Getting involved - whether through student opportunities or joining clubs both professors and alumni echoed the importance of becoming part of the community during your time on campus.
- Use available resources - there are great academic supports on campus such as help centres, office hours, and study programs that can help students stay on top of their coursework.
- Connect with professors - ask questions, make connections, and don't be afriad to talk to your profs. They're there to help you have a great year.
Introucing Student Clubs
After hearing from the faculty and alumni, student leaders reclaimed the stage to introduce the variety of exciting clubs offered by the CMS Department. The Women in Computer Science, Statistics & Mathematic Opens an external site in a new window s, Association of Mathematical and Computer Science Students Opens an external site in a new window , The Computer Science Enrichment Club Opens an external site in a new window , and The Data Science & Statistics Society Opens an external site in a new window are four student-led organizations who are working towards providing student support and accelerating student engagement within UTSC’s CMS community. Each club gave a brief presentation on their goals and visions, so our first years could find an organization or organizations that align with their personal goals. To learn more about each club, please check out the links above or find their pages on the CMS website. Better yet, follow them online to stay on top of key upcoming events!
Special Keynote with Professor Fleet
As the day started to wind to a close, students prepared for the final keynote address. Professor David Fleet is an award-winning researcher and former chair of the CMS department. His research interests focus on areas of computer vision, machine learning, image processing, and visual neuroscience. As an exciting preview of all the fascinating Computer Science courses that UTSC has to offer, he gave a gripping presentation about the frontiers of machine learning and computer vision to our first year students. Moreover, Professor Fleet discussed applications related to molecular biology, self-driving cars, and new tools for image generation and visual expression. Last but not least, Professor Fleet shared some wonderful insight with incoming CMS students to conclude this exclusive expert session.
Wrap-up and Mingle
The day drew to a close but students were still eager to learn more about all the exciting opportunities that the CMS department had to offer. We knew it was not the time to say goodbye to our amazing first years just yet! The department provided some appetizing finger food and drinks while students had an additional opportunity to network with each other, as well as to following up their discussion with faculty and club leaders. When the orientation finally came to an end, everyone left with a smile on their face.
Of course, the fun doesn’t stop there. In celebration of the start of term, there are numerous exciting events happening within the department and campus such as UTSC Homecoming, monthly CMS Board Game Nights, Hack the Valley 6, the weekly CMS Undergraduate Research Seminar, and more great events. We’ll see you guys then!