Every year, Upsilon Pi Epsilon – an International Honor Society for the Computing and Information Disciplines – holds a national convention, during which chapters have the opportunity to be recognized by the national board. This year, out of the 200 chapters of UPE, the UCLA chapter of UPE was awarded with the Outstanding Chapter Award, which “recognizes chapters whose programs and activities have attained a high level of achievement during the most recent academic year”. With over 120 new members each year, UCLA UPE is one of the largest chapters of UPE, and one of the largest computer science organizations on campus.
“We’re pretty excited about [winning this award] – it’s an honor to be recognized by the national board,” said Cristen Anderson, the Internal Vice President of UCLA UPE. “It’s also encouragement to our officer board, since it shows them that the work they put in hasn’t gone unnoticed.”
“It’s the first time we actually ran for this award, so we were surprised to win, but we’re very happy and humbled to receive the award,” Ricky Lee, the president of UCLA UPE, added.
In the past year, UPE has made extensive efforts to broaden opportunities for students by providing events that help students develop both their academic and professional careers. For instance, UPE offers extensive quarter-long tutoring in computer science, physics, and mathematics courses, and also hosts a number of company infosessions, tech talks, and tours with companies like Amazon, Google, Uber, etc. Their events regularly receive an impressive turnout, with one of their past Google infosessions attracting nearly 400 students.
The organization also aims to help students build skills that are not necessarily taught in academic courses. In the past year, UPE has offered workshops on resume building, interview preparation, and navigating career fairs. They’ve also held other internship-oriented workshops in the past, such as “Getting Into Top Computer Science Companies”, and annually pair with adjunct professor Carey Nachenberg to provide a lecture on personal finances and understanding the financial technicalities behind job-offer letters.
Given the large size of lower-division computer science courses, crowded office hours are the norm. UPE aims to alleviate some of this demand by offering regularly held events specifically oriented toward these lower division CS courses, such as hack nights, review sessions, and trivia nights. During these events, students are able to meet their peers and work together to understand difficult concepts, with UPE mentors available to help guide students towards the right direction.
In an effort to further give back to the computer science community, UCLA UPE has also paired with ACM to host Founder’s School for its second year. Founder’s School is the “largest university entrepreneurship conference in Southern California, bringing together over 160 students, engineers, founders, professionals, and professors to share their own stories and build meaningful connections”. Last year, speakers included Vladimir Tenev, the CEO of Robinhood, as well as Michael Hartl, author of Ruby on Rails Tutorial, and Justin Brezhnev, the executive director of Hacker Fund.
In the long run, UPE hopes to emphasize the importance of giving back to the community, and empower their members to use their skills and knowledge to improve and unify the computer science community at UCLA. UPE also hopes to act as a liaison between students and the school by addressing student concerns through their events and workshops, as well as by regularly communicating with faculty to continually work toward improving the computer science program at UCLA.
UPE recruitment is held during Fall and Spring quarter, during which eligible candidates are sent an invitation to join. Eligible undergraduate candidates are required to be in the top ⅓ of their class, have at least a 3.5 GPA, have Junior/Senior standing, and be one of the following majors: Computer Science, Computer Science and Engineering, Linguistics and Computer Science, or Electrical Engineering with an emphasis in Computer Science. Since prospective members are required to fulfill at least 2 hours of tutoring per week, there is never a shortage of help for undergraduate students in need. In addition to giving back to the computer science community, UPE also offers countless benefits for its members, including scholarship opportunities for undergraduate and graduate members alike. This year, undergraduate student and president of UPE, Ricky Yingjia Lee, and graduate student Andrew Wong were recipients of the UPE Executive Council Award and UPE Special Recognition Award respectively, which include recognition by the national board and a monetary scholarship.