UPE Anniversary Event a Success

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Drexel University’s chapter of Upsilon Pi Epsilon [External Link] (UPE), International Honor Society for the Computing and Information Disciplines, celebrated its 20th anniversary since its establishment at Drexel February 1989. In honor of the momentous event, the CS Department invited UPE alumni, along with current UPE students, for a reception and presentation Thursday, February 26 from 6-9 p.m. at Bossone Research Enterprise Center.

During the evening, UPE alumni and current UPE students reminisced with fellow students, faculty and other professional leaders in the computing field. After the reception, John “JD” Dougherty, a fellow Drexel alumnus and current CS Professor at Haverford College, presented “Computational Singing,” which took well-known songs and altered the words to humorously describe the everyday uses, and occasional frustrations, of fundamental computation concepts.

One of the most memorable moments of the evening was reuniting seven of the founding members of Drexel’s UPE chapter.

Jeffrey Popyack, CS associate professor and advisor of UPE, caught up with the group at the event and “had a blast talking with them.”

“Every senior class has its own personality, and the class of 1989 was an especially memorable one,” Popyack said. “It’s telling that they were the ones to take the initiative to found this chapter. And having David Magagnosc show up, who was on our faculty in those days, made it extra special. They all spent a lot of time talking together.”

(Above) Some of the founding members of UPE in 1989 (l-r): Joe Roden, John Hamilton, Doug Wright, Jeff Salvage, Jeff Popyack, David Kettinger and Rebecca Mercuri.

Aside from Popyack, other alumni, faculty and students thought the event was extremely successful.

“The event was very well organized and it was great meeting friends and students who had graduated and I hadn’t seen in a really long time,” Kanwarpreet Sethi, vice president of UPE, said. “I thought the reception and the lecture were both a lot of fun.”

Bill Patterson, an alumnus software engineer, thought Dougherty’s presentation put “a new twist on some old subjects,” and enjoyed seeing old classmates and faculty.

(Above) Students, faculty and alumni catch up with each other. Popyack thought “it was such a thrill to be standing by the door and recognize people when they walked in… It was interesting to hear about what they’ve been doing since [graduation].”

William Mongan, CS faculty member and an alumnus of Drexel and UPE, also enjoyed the reception.

“It’s always great to catch up with other students, but to get everyone together is not only a nice break from a long day’s work, but it’s also a chance to talk to people, see where they are and do some networking,” Mongan said. “I think everyone benefits from that.”

At first Mongan “wasn’t sure what to expect” when hearing that JD would be singing about computing concepts, but he did enjoy the entire performance and its statement.

“[Dougherty’s] absolutely right about the impact of music to burn ideas,” Mongan said. “I think this is probably most applicable to the younger crowd who isn’t exposed to computing disciplines yet, to get them thinking about what our field is really all about.”

(Above) JD performs one of his unique songs.

The event may have been a majority of computer science attendees, but IST student Stephen Croce, who was just inducted to UPE last spring, felt the speaker was entertaining, everyone was very welcoming and it was beneficial to meet people that are working in the field.

“Right now, because of the nature of my job, I am sort of starved for networking opportunities and interaction with other professionals,” Croce said. “I’m also very interested to see what kinds of other interesting things people are doing with their lives in CS and information system field.”

This was the first large alumni event for the CS Department, which is planning to initiate a closer connection between alumni, current students and the department by forming an Alumni Board to schedule more events.

UPE held its 24th induction ceremony, Monday, Nov. 17, 2008, welcoming 31 new Computer Science and Information and Technology students into the organization. The next induction ceremony will be in May 2009.

In the future, UPE is planning a special charity event in memory of late Compute Science assistant professor Dr. Pragnesh Jay Modi, who passed away in 2007.

A date has yet to be decided for the event.

UPE is dedicated to promoting the Computing Sciences and to encourage members to the enhancement of knowledge. UPE was founded in 1967 at Texas A&M University and is the only National Honor Society for the computing and information disciplines, having chapters at 230 colleges and universities in the U.S. and overseas.

Drexel University was chartered in 1989 as the fifth chapter of the state of Pennsylvania to the Association by the Executive Council of UPE. You can learn more information about UPE here [External Link].

Photos: Julie Fisher and Jeff Salvage

Posted 3/10/09