The international Association of Computing Machinery has honored the UCLA student chapter of ACM at UCLA with the 2020-2021 Outstanding Recruitment Student Chapter Excellence Award. This is one of five annual awards given to one student chapter out of almost 700 international chapters; this specific award recognizes a chapter for excellence in recruiting new members. This is the second consecutive year that ACM at UCLA has received the Excellence Award and its fourth award in the past five years.

In their nomination, the student chapter reflected on its recruitment process and its integration with the CS community at UCLA—boasting over 1300 active members. By participating in admissions events for first-years and transfers, new student orientation, and Engineering Welcome Day, the club is involved with new students from the moment that they are accepted into UCLA. Throughout the school year, the chapter runs a variety of events including record-breaking general meetings with hundreds of students, and intimate discussion groups on data ethics, non-technical game development, and LGBTQIA representation in computer science. The chapter attributes much of its success to its focus on beginner-friendliness, openness, and inclusion: its goal is to introduce students to all facets of computer science and technology, regardless of prior experience.

In addition, the chapter described its response to the sudden transition to virtual instruction and activities. ACM at UCLA put significant emphasis on making its workshops and events as accessible as possible: officers recorded every single event on the organization’s YouTube channel and continued to open-source materials on GitHub. Some events, such as Hack Kitchen, ran multiple sessions to accommodate students in different time zones. And the club took advantage of digital platforms. The chapter’s Discord server—a virtual platform for club members to socialize, study together, and run programs—grew to include over 1400 UCLA students. Virtual events featured speakers in other countries and time zones and included attendees from a variety of age groups. The club also effectively used a variety of social media platforms to build an interactive virtual community and connect with its members.

ACM at UCLA features eight committees—AI, Cyber, Design, Hack, ICPC, Game Studio, Teach LA, and ACM-W—that each focus on a unique subset of computer science. Committees hold a range of events including beginner-friendly and advanced workshops, project teams, networking opportunities, K-12 outreach programs, diversity initiatives, and a competitive programming team.

Rucha Patki, the outgoing president, notes how important the support of the computer science department, staff, and faculty is to the chapter. The club works closely with the department to host career fairs, town halls, and a variety of formal and informal ways for students to connect with professors and their research.

Reflecting on the year, she mentioned, “This year has undoubtedly been challenging for everyone. Despite this, the fact that ACM at UCLA has not only adapted to the virtual environment but revamped its curriculum and grown in the past year has shown us all the resiliency of the CS community at UCLA. The students in ACM have a passion to help others learn and grow, both professionally and personally; this passion gives us the drive to keep going in tough times. I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve been able to bring to UCLA in the past year, and I’m so grateful to the CS department for supporting us along the way. I have no doubt that ACM at UCLA will continue to thrive in the coming years.”

Previously, ACM at UCLA has won both the Outstanding School Service award in 2020 and 2018 and the Outstanding Activities award in 2017. Read more about ACM at UCLA and its activities on its chapter website.