About Explorations

A warm welcome to the WCS Explorations, WCS’s sub-committee to help you with all things technical! We offer frequent workshops to hone your technical skills for classes and personal projects, interview preparation workshops to help you ace your next job interview, and project teams for a chance to work together in groups of about six people (including a project manager) and learn on-the-job skills. We also host the annual female and non-binary only hackathon, Code Ada, in October! If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to reach out to Darci Peoples or Melissa Chen.

[NEW!] Question Box

WCS is launching our own ask box where you can ask questions about any CS/non-CS related topics! In the upcoming weeks, we will invite special speakers to answer questions about cool topics like machine learning, research, etc. Just submit a question in this form and we’ll get back to you in a few days! We want this to be safe space, so if you choose to, you can remain anonymous. Go to our website to see past questions and answers or ask your own!

WCS Explorations Book Club

Alongside learning the technical skills that will help our members succeed, book club will be encouraging the developers of the future to consider the history and ethics of computer science. We're kicking off our pilot book club with Algorithms of Oppression by Safiya Noble. If you are interested in joining our weekly discussions, which will be taking place synchronously on Zoom every Monday at 5 PM CST and asynchronously on Slack, join the WCS Slack and hop in the #book-club channel. We will be posting the weekly reading schedule, holding asynchronous discussions, and making announcements there.

Project Teams

This year, WCS is hosting eight project teams working on a variety of projects with social good and engineering education applications. From adding new features to existing campus accessibility tools or creating a STEM trivia application, to crafting a racial microaggression detector or imagining new tools to help students stay productive during the pandemic, our project teams are set on taking on some of the greatest challenges posed to our community in 2021. Corporate sponsors: if you are interested in learning more about our student's work or participating in our midpoint or final presentations, please reach out to our corporate committee.

Code Ada

Code Ada is our annual all-female and non-binary hackathon, hosted by Explorations every October/November. For more information on how to get involved as an attendee, mentor, or corporate sponsor, please check out the Code Ada page.

[NEW!] Long-Running Activities

On top of our workshops, we want to ensure that resources are available for students who want to practice their skills continuously. Check out practice activities! More are coming soon.

Activity Title Practice Area

WCS MBTI Board

Github, Git, Version Control

Binary Message Encoder / Decoder

Binary representations, ASCII

Past Workshops

We regularly hold workshops through the school year to teach skills that we think will be helpful for students in CS and beyond. Check out this list of the workshops we have run in the 2020-2021 school year! If you have any questions about the workshop content or need guidance on the activities, please don't hesitate to reach out.

Date Title Description Slides Activity

September 1, 2020

Git Gud @ Git (for individuals)

Come learn the basics of version control while meeting your peers at our first WCS Explorations workshop of the year!

Slides

Github Repo

September 14, 2020

Tricking Out Your Terminal

Choose your own adventure as you navigate the basics of your terminal in this open-to-all, beginner-friendly workshop led by WCS Explorations!

Slides

Github Repo

October 22, 2020

Hackathons 101

Are you ready for Code Ada 2020? Come to our workshop to learn tips and tricks for being successful at Code Ada and many other hackathons! We'll be going over the details of our event, some of the logistics, and general best practices for hackathon product creation.

Slides

N/A

November 16, 2020

Acing the Behavioral Interview

Learn the essentials of a strong behavioral interview at the first of two WCS Explorations interview workshops! We'll be going over some of the tried and true fundamentals of crafting great responses to behavioral interview questions. At the end, you'll get the chance to practice what you've learned in small groups!

Slides

Worksheet

November 18, 2020

Taking on the Technical Interview

Hone your technical interview skills for algorithmic, systems design, and other types of challenges at the second of two WCS Explorations interview workshops! We'll be going over strategies and preparation techniques for technical interview questions. At the end, you'll get the chance to practice what you've learned in small groups!

Slides

Worksheet

January 14, 2021

Project Management 101

Come learn the skills necessary to be an effective Project Manager in tech! We’ll learn some basic skills needed for project management, including task tracking, roadmapping, people management, and user research.

Slides

N/A

January 28, 2021

Bug Hunting Workshop

Come learn debugging skills that will help you in classes like CS 126 and beyond! We want to save you a lot of hours spent staring at your code wondering what could be wrong by giving you strategies for how to identify and fix errors. We’ll go over techniques like using print statements, breakpoints, unit tests, googling and also advanced topics like using valgrind and gdb. *No bugs were harmed in the making of this workshop 🕊

Slides

Repl or Github Repo

February 3, 2021

Git Gud @ Git (for teams and OS contributors)

Join Illinois WCS and HackIllinois to “git gud” at git! We’ll be going over the major components of version control and how to use it effectively in group and open source projects. The workshop will close with an interactive component for you to try out your new skills in small groups. This would be a great chance to brush up on your git skills before HackIllinois’ Open Source Fellowship!

Slides

Github Repo

February 25, 2021

Dive into Technical Interviews

Hone your interview skills with WCS Explorations! We'll be going over a deeper dive of the technical interview, including going over more details about the design, coding, and algorithmic interview categories. Get the skills you need to ace your next interview! There will be an opportunity to practice at the end of the workshop.

Slides

Algorithmic/Systems Design Worksheet or Programming Interview Worksheet

March 11, 2021

Dig into Databases

Dig into databases with WECE and WCS! We'll be going over the basics of SQL, including selects, subqueries, and modifying the table. We’ll also give you the option to practice your SQL skills or learn about the basics of MongoDB!

Slides

SQLZoo Activity

March 19, 2021

Fabulous Frontend

Join WCS’ amazing infrastructure chair, Eunice, for a fabulous frontend workshop! We’ll be going over all the basics of frontend, including HTML, CSS, and Javascript! By the end of the workshop, you will be able to deploy your own personal portfolio site on Github pages!

Slides

Demo Snippets

Personal Website Template

April 1, 2021

K-nearest neighbors (...at least 6 ft apart)

What makes a good (socially distanced) meme? Find out at our artificial intelligence workshop on April 1, 2021 @ 6 PM, where we’ll learn about the basics of AI and build a KNN classifier on meme data!

Slides

Activity (please make a copy by going to File > Save a copy in Drive) or GitHub repo

April 4, 2021

Git Gud @ Git (Sail 2021 Edition)

Version control is the all-powerful, industry-standard tool that can save you a lot of hassle when working on code alone or with friends! We'll teach you all you need to know about Git and how to use it to deploy your personal website through GitHub!

Slides

Github Repo

April 4, 2021

Introduction to AI (Sail 2021 Edition)

Artificial intelligence is prolific in our everyday lives, showing up in places like Google Home, Amazon Alexa, Siri, video games, and self-driving cars. We'll be going over the basics of artificial intelligence, including a brief history, common training methods and examples problems, and an opportunity to make your own classifier!

Slides

Activity and Key (please make a copy by going to File > Save a copy in Drive)

April 9, 2021

Useable Privacy and Security

Join WiCyS and WCS Explorations for a presentation and discussion on usable security and privacy! We’ll be learning about the importance of useability and accessibility, privacy dark patterns, and what you need to think about when approaching usability in your engineering work!

Slides

N/A

Upcoming Workshops

Here is a list of our tentatively planned workshops for the rest of the semester. All Zoom links require using Illinois SSO login.

Date Topic Description Zoom Link

April 20, 2021 @ 6 PM

Interviewing to Impress!

Got an interview soon? Wanna know how to ace an interview? Wondering what resources you can use for preparation? Get your questions answered at the WCS x ECS Interview Event, hosted by the WCS Explorations Committee! We’ll start with a presentation from Engineering Career Services and also host a panel to answer your questions about interview resources! Submit your questions ahead of time using this form.

Link to join

April 27, 2021 @ 6 PM

What's that data structure? Technical interview prep

Need some data structures review? Join WCS Explorations committee for a fun review night of trees, Linked Lists, and Hashmaps. We will have content review and fun exercises! Keep your data structures skills honed going into finals and the next recruiting season!

Link to join

Project Resources