UA College of Engineeering

Jeff Gray, Ph.D.

University of Alabama
Department of Computer Science
Box 870290
Tuscaloosa, AL  35487-0290

Office: 3447 SEC
(Science and Engineering Complex)
Phone: 205-348-2847  
Fax: 205-348-0219

Maps and photos:SEC


K-12 Outreach Activities

Since 2003, I have been involved in several outreach activities to help improve the awareness of computer science among K-12 students and teachers within the State of Alabama. This page documents some of those activities with pointers to separate web pages for each event.  

High School Programming Contest

In May 2005, I organized the first High School Programming Contest for students throughout the State of Alabama. This is an annual event that attracts over 45 students from over a dozen schools in the state.

A television news story on this event is available here.


Alice Film Festival

The inaugural Alice Film Festival was started in May 2007. In this event, Alabama students from elementary school through high school submit movies and video games for judging and then attend UAB to view the submissions and an awards ceremony.

A television news story on this event is available here.

The next Alice Film Festival will be May 2009; more information about this event will be available here.

UAB Summer Computer Camps


The CIS Department offers 7 weeks of computer summer camps for middle school and high school students. Two separate weeks of "Game Programming in Alice" are offered. For high school students, 5 weeks of camps are available in the areas of Game Programming with Alice, Java Boot Camp, Robotics, Graphics Programming, and Scientific Computing. I am helping to organize these camps with several of my colleagues in the CIS Department (Dr. John Johnstone, Dr. Kenneth Sloan, and Dr. Puri Bangalore, and Dr. Tony Skjellum).


These camps were featured in several television and radio stories:

More information about the CIS Summer Camps is available here.

UAB Summer Robotics Camp


I initiated the Summer Robotics Camp in the summers of 2004 and 2005. This multi-week camp provides students with an opportunity to learn Java through fun, yet challenging, series of exercises (e.g., Balloon Buster, Sumo Wrestler). The summer camp was offered in collaboration with the Heritage Center, which matched underrepresented minority students with UAB mentors. This camp is now part of the multi-week camp offered by the CIS Department (see previous event).

The previous (2004-2006) Robotics Camp Web Page is available here.

Field Trips to the CIS Department


With several colleagues in the CIS department (Dr. Bob Hyatt, Dr. Puri Bangalore, and Fran Fabrizio), we offer on-site field trips to our department. This three-hour tour provides lectures on Alice, computer chess, opportunities in computer science, and a survey of the department resources (including Alabama's fastest computer and a visualization wall).

The Field Trips Web Page is available here.

Computer Science Roadshow (Visits to your school)

To raise awareness about computing in the State of Alabama, I have prepared a "roadshow" where I visit a school and interact with students. The goal of the roadshow is to introduce students to the opportunities within computing, as well as the specific things available at UAB-CIS. The roadshow consists of active learning exercises, a short presentation on computing as a profession, robotics demonstrations, and a hands-on exercise where students build a video game along with me. This roadshow has been given to several dozen schools in Alabama across the state.

Videos and photos of the roadshow events are available here.

The K-12 Opportunities in Computer Science slides are available here

Science Fair Mentoring


Over the past three years, I have mentored five high school students in preparation for regional and state science fairs. These students are treated like a graduate student through a year-long collaboration and given their own desk space and computer in my lab. Since 2006, students that I have mentored have won 18 regional and state science fair awards (including Will Whitney, who won first place in the Computer Science category at the 2007 Alabama State Science Fair). 

Science Fair posters and videos:

  • Jerrod Sutton (2006)

  • Will Whitney (2007)

  • George Tankersley (2007)

  • Robert Smyly (2008)

  • Robert Smyly and Oliver White: Team Project (2009)

CS Unplugged at McWane Science Center with Dr. Tim Bell


On June 27, 2007, I hosted Dr. Tim Bell's visit to Birmingham. Tim is the author of the Computer Science Unplugged book (which is freely available) and literally tours the world teaching computer science to children in a fun and engaging show. During his visit, Tim gave a seminar lecture to adults and educators at UAB, and then presented the Unplugged show to a packed auditorium at the McWane Science Center. Over 100 students from Jefferson County attended the show, which was sponsored by the National Science Foundation. 

For more information about Computer Science Unplugged, click here.

For photos and videos of Tim's visit to Birmingham, click here.

The flyer used to advertise Tim's talk is available here.

Tech Clubs and Engineering Academy


The Technology Club at Gardendale High School, which is sponsored by faculty member Juanita Vann, has invited me to conduct a series of talks to the club members. The club meets twice a month throughout the school year to learn how to program in Alice.

During Fall 2007, I assisted Ms. Vann with the new Engineering Academy course that was offered at Gardendale HS. 

Alabama K-12 Teachers Workshop


On July 31, 2006, I organized a state-wide workshop that brought together many key educators who have an interest in advancing the role of computing within Alabama K-12 education. The workshop assembled 16 participants with various backgrounds, including: K-5 technology instructors, high school AP computer science teachers, high school students, school administrators and headmasters, undergraduate and graduate students, executive directors, and UAB professors.

The Alabama K-12 Teachers Workshop site is available here.

External References to these Activities

Several external links recognize the outreach activities of the UAB CIS Department. The following represent two features that advertised these efforts nationally:

  • As a result of the K-12 Teachers Workshop, CSTA Executive Director Dr. Chris Stephenson wrote on her blog an article entitled "What if Alabama Led the Way?"

  • Addison-Wesley has created a quarterly newsletter called "the Loop" that is distributed to all computer science faculty across the United States. The inaugural issue of "the Loop" featured UAB outreach activities as a model for high school engagement.