Consider the top 30 innovations inÂ the last 30 years, and Tracy Camp willÂ tell you that none of them would haveÂ happened without computer science.Â â€œThink of what computer science hasÂ done for our world,â€ says Camp, aÂ computer science professor at Mines.Â â€œOnline shopping, medical applications,Â robotic surgeries, DNA mappingâ€”allÂ that stuff has been created or vastlyÂ improved because of computer science.â€
Camp came to Mines in 1998; sinceÂ then she has moved up in her roleÂ from assistant to full professor. SheÂ currently teaches the introduction toÂ programming course, ProgrammingÂ Concepts in C++. In her class, studentsÂ develop a final project related to a topicÂ theyâ€™re passionate about, such as aÂ game or data storage utility.
Looking at Campâ€™s resume (25 pagesÂ of grants, awards, and publications),Â you might assume she knew at an earlyÂ age that she wanted to be a teacher, but that wasnâ€™t the case.Â Although she loved logic and math as a child, she didnâ€™t haveÂ any interest in teaching. It wasnâ€™t until she was ready toÂ graduate from Michigan State University with her masterâ€™sÂ degree in computer science that her parents encouraged herÂ to pursue a PhD.
After receiving a PhD in computerÂ science from the College of WilliamÂ and Mary, Camp began working atÂ the University of Alabama. A fewÂ years later, she and her husbandÂ decided to move west, and CampÂ wanted to work at a smaller school.Â So, they pulled out a map of theÂ United States, and Camp applied toÂ four schools. Although she receivedÂ three interview offers, she onlyÂ accepted one of them: Mines.
When sheâ€™s not teaching, CampÂ is focused on three areas: technicalÂ research, educational research,Â and women in computing. InÂ total, her research projects haveÂ received more than $20 millionÂ in external funding. She has beenÂ awarded more than 20 grants fromÂ the National Science FoundationÂ (NSF), including a prestigious NSFÂ CAREER award.
Camp is an Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)Â Fellow, and recently, she also became an Institute of ElectricalÂ and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Fellow for her contributionsÂ to wireless networking. â€œWithin my research area, there areÂ only eight women that are both ACM and IEEE fellows,â€ CampÂ said. â€œI am the first ACM fellow at Mines and the first IEEEÂ female fellow at Mines. We need more!â€
The lack of women in Campâ€™s field is something she worksÂ on here at Mines. â€œResearch shows that a diverse teamÂ creates a better product, so we need diverse teams. And toÂ accomplish that, we need more women at the table,â€ she said.
To that end, Camp works with the CRA-W (ComputingÂ Research Associationâ€”Women). She also serves as theÂ faculty advisor for the ACM womenâ€™s student chapter atÂ Mines, through which she founded â€œDiscovering Technology,â€Â an after-school STEM program for elementary school girlsÂ that includes computer science education. ApproximatelyÂ 300 girls in grades 3-6 visit Mines each semester to learnÂ about a different science and engineering topic. The programÂ has been so successful that Camp is expanding it to include aÂ separate day for girls in grades 7-8.
â€œWeâ€™re currently at about 13 percent female computerÂ science undergraduate students at Mines, which is a bit lessÂ than the roughly 15 percent national average,â€ Camp said.Â â€œMy goal is to move Mines to 25 percent women in both theÂ computer science major and the computer science minorÂ by 2020.â€