NC State Graduates Find Technical Solutions to Teacher’s Problems with Curriculum Pathways
A career in computer science is a career that encompasses many different fields. From math to English to Spanish, computer science provides a future of limitless opportunities.
NC State computer science graduates Lucy Kosturko (MS ‘10), Scott McQuiggan (MS ’05, PhD ‘09) and Jennifer Sabourin (BS ’08, MS ’12, PhD ‘13) embody this every day in their careers at SAS. They serve on the Curriculum Pathways team directed by McQuiggan where Kosturko is a Curriculum Development Manager and Sabourin is a Research Scientist and Sr. Software Developer.
Their shared passion for computer science and education has resulted in a collaborative, interdisciplinary driven program benefitting students and teachers across the globe.
Curriculum Pathways is a SAS program that looks to use technology to enhance learning. To do this, the free-of-cost program develops resources to find technical solutions for common problems teachers face in the classroom. It offers 1,700 resources for students in grades k-12, and spans five core subjects of English, Math, Science, Social Studies and Spanish. The program uses computer science to creatively develop educational solutions among a variety of subjects.
The program plays an important role in SAS’s philanthropic mission to educate younger generations. McQuiggan points to Curriculum Pathways as being a major cornerstone in that development.
“At Curriculum Pathways, we’re lucky enough to be able to live out the company’s passion in education every day,” says McQuiggan. “There is no better place than SAS to have the freedom to actually solve the problems teachers and students articulate every day. That’s one of the things that makes this one of the best places to work.”
Kostruko, Sabourin and McQuiggan communicate with teachers about their common problems, then turn to their teams to create technical solutions. To find these solutions, they collaborate with others in different disciplines outside of computer science including psychology, art, social studies and math. This collaboration has resulted in many resources including CodeSnaps, Writing Reviser and most recently, CRIO.
“Coding is only a small part of computer science and software development. It really takes a village and it’s a very collaborative thing,” says Kosturko. “Computer science has a reputation of being isolating when, in practice, it’s very collaborative.”
Sabourin credits her NC State education specifically for preparing her for such an interdisciplinary and collaborative career.
“I really appreciated the flexibility to make my degree what I wanted, so taking electives and extra courses in things that interested me including things like psychology and education and within the department, things like AI,” says Sabourin. “I use all of those things in my job rather than the straight and narrow path. It really prepared me for such an interdisciplinary career.”
Dr. James Lester’s lab at NC State is a place that all three fondly remember as being an open environment that promoted cross-disciplinary collaboration among students.
“Dr. Lester’s lab is a very interdisciplinary space. That’s where we learned that type of collaboration. That’s the collaboration that we apply every day with what we do at Curriculum Pathways,” says McQuiggan. “That collaboration is something we see replicated here at SAS across the other industries that SAS works in, too. So, I think that that is an effective approach to solving problems.”
Combining the interdisciplinary skills they learned from their studies at NC State, the three wrote a book in 2015 entitled Mobile Learning: A Handbook for Developers, Educators, and Learners. The book approaches technological solutions in the space of applications for iPads to be used in classrooms. It includes sections specifically tailored for its reader including the roles of a developer and a teacher.
“The book takes all of the different perspectives of people who have a piece of this pie and put it together to make sure that everyone is working with the others in mind,” says Sabourin.
Kostruko, Sabourin and McQuiggan work collaboratively on a team with Curriculum Pathways that goes far beyond the bare minimum. They combine their shared passions and unique educational backgrounds to produce teamwork that is unmatched. However, what they are most proud of is one another.
“One of the things that I am proud of is the people I get to work with every day. I have a mentor of mine that once shared that the best measure of success is the people that you get to work with and we get to work with great people every day,” says McQuiggan. “For me, these two people in this room are the best example of that.”
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