A symposium paper authored by the late Dr. Alton R. Goddard, an East Texas State University faculty member, has been nominated as a finalist for the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE) Top Ten Symposium Papers of All Time Award. Created to commemorate the 50thSIGCSE Technical Symposium, the award received nominations through an open call that were narrowed to 20 final papers by a nomination committee.
Among the 20 finalists is Goddard’s paper, “Relating Computer Science Programs to the Needs of Industry through Internships and Cooperative Programs,” which was published by ACM in 1974. The paper discusses the benefits of “experience-oriented or on-the-job instructional programs” for students and how these programs help ensure the relevancy of computer science educational programs to the job market.
Goddard was conceptualizing computer science education when it was still developing at ETSU. When he initially arrived in 1969, computer science courses were taught within the Department of Mathematics. With his help, computer science emerged as a separate department in 1971. It is documented that the same year, the college began offering the first undergraduate degree in computer science in the state of Texas. A graduate program soon followed in 1972.
His son, Larry Goddard, noted, “He was in the right place at the right time as far as people getting interested in computers, but [educators] didn’t know how to teach other people—how to teach young students or learners—about computers.” Goddard eventually assumed the position of department head and served in the role for several years.
He focused his efforts not only on the curriculum but also the people in his field. He reached out to minority students and welcomed international students to the discipline. His son noted that he was also very supportive of women professors. Larry said, “It was a wonderful time, because he did write—take a blank page—and write [computer science] so that it was inclusive, not exclusive, it was creative, not limiting, and it was far-reaching, not limited by geography.”
Goddard passed away of brain cancer in 2002, but his recognition by SIGCSE makes it apparent that his work is still valued decades later. Larry said, “For [the paper] to hold its own all of those years has made me – has made [me and my mother] so proud of Dad’s work.”