Tonight I spent a few hours calling high school seniors who have recently been admitted to the University of Michigan and have at some point indicated they might be interested in Computer Science.
It's something I've been doing once or twice a week over the last month or so through the CSE Scholars program here at the University, and it's been a really great experience.
Believe it or not, enrollment in Computer Science has dropped a bit over the last few years. So, as part of a larger effort, we're reaching out to recent admits and talking to them about all Computer Science has to offer. In addition, we're making a special effort to reach out to women interested in Computer Science, a demographic that makes up something like 12% of my graduating class.
For someone like me with relatively little sales experience, cold-calling a bunch of potential CS students and talking to them about U of M Computer Science has been really valuable. It's probably the best kind of cold-calling experience one could ask for -- the kids are really exciting to receive personal calls from a respected department at such a large University. At the same time, I can actually feel my sales and communications skills improving, and believe me, we engineers can use all the help we can get. ;-)
We're also bringing back to campus Tony Fadell, a U of M alum, and the creator of the iPod. He'll be speaking along with one of my favorite professors, Elliot Soloway, at an "Inspire Fair" we're putting on with Michigan Inspire featuring projects that have recently come out of Michigan Inspire, GROCS, and various design courses and research projects here at the University. The event will be on April 14th. I'll post the URL along with more info as soon as I have it.