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ACM Becoming More Active

Posted On : May 9th, 2012

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ACMCSUSDespite past struggles, Sacramento State’s Association for Computing Machinery chapter plans to redefine the organization by bridging the gap between engineering and computer science majors.

Founded in 1972, the chapter is an organization of the College of Engineering and Computer Science and made up of students who host events, offer tutoring and provide networking opportunities for students within their majors.

The group has goals and ideas about how to make the department more major-friendly – ideas that have fallen through in the past few years.

Senior computer engineering major and association member Anthony Violenta said since he joined the group six years ago, membership has dwindled and the group’s success has remained at a standstill. Violenta plans to be co-president of the organization next semester alongside current vice president and junior computer engineering major Derek Cuffe.

“Our main purpose next semester is to bring back the club the way it used to be before there was a falling out,” Violenta said.

He said the reason behind the stagnant nature of the club is the officers’ lack of action in following through with ideas.

“The (officers) have these thoughts and ideas, but don’t want to act on them … they’re afraid they might not be able to do them,” Violenta said. “I would have ideas that I would pitch out, but others would say “‘Let’s not take it too far.’”

Violenta said the group was more successful two years ago – the time when he was an officer for the organization.

“We did pretty well … we tried to bring the social part and educational part together,” Violenta said. “Then everyone got busy so we gave the reigns to new officers.”

Violenta said the group is now lacking official members with many questioning what the organization really is.

“We want to bring the club back to the way it was two years ago … but also take it a step forward and try to incorporate more industry – be more active weekly rather than biweekly and bridge the gap between majors,” Violenta said.

Insufficient funding is one issue the group said it has encountered in the past but is steadily improving.

“There have been situations where we needed maybe $100 and we got $20,” Violenta said. “In the past, our advisers were the ones providing us with funding for our events with money out of their accounts. It’s been decent … but when we’re a bit shy we have to pull from the club’s account to make up the difference.”

Violenta said the group has also sought funding through Associated Students Inc.

“One semester, ASI agreed to fund our event,” he said. “When we looked at the spreadsheet to see how much we could spend for reimbursement, it said ‘$0.’”

Sunny Sahota, director-elect of Engineering and Computer Science for ASI, said he heard the story of the association being allotted $0 dollars for an event.

“…ASI assured me that they would never approve a club for Dollars for Clubs & Organizations funding, then award no money. However, I want to work closely with ACM, along with other clubs/organizations, and see why it is they are struggling to get funding,” Sahota said. “If a club is being denied (funding), we need to correct those mistakes so clubs are not getting denied a second and third time around.”

Violenta said the funding situation with ASI has improved and they have supported the group with events.

“We received a lot more funding than we expected for the programming contest,” Violenta said. “It looks like they understand that we’re going to be changing things (and) we’ve put thought and effort into everything we’ve been doing.”

Sahota said the association contacted him during his campaign and expressed its struggles.

“I first heard about the club’s issues a few weeks ago … Anthony Violenta spoke with me about how the club has been low on funding for years,” Sahota said. “He and a group of officers are committed to getting the club running successfully again for next semester. This commitment involves working with me over the summer to make sure they hit ground running at the start of the school year.”

Another one of the group’s goals to improve the organization is to network with faculty.

“We’re trying to be more interactive with faculty … I’m giving them this view of how this club should be and they’re pretty happy that we are actually trying to make a difference,” Violenta said.

Creating ties and building relationships among all majors and clubs within the department are aspects Violenta and Cuffe want to drive the group’s focus.

“This is the only standing computer engineering/computer science club on this college,” Violenta said. “We want to make it a point to help people in certain majors. We want to incorporate a means where teachers can come and be advisers so that more people have more options and more guidance so they don’t end up switching majors or thinking this is a lost cause.”

The organization is also working with the robotics club and ACM-W, a women’s Association for Computing Machinery, to better the department.

“There are a lot of things we can get from them and they can get from us,” Violenta said. “We are working closely with them to try to bring engineering to more of a whole. There are a lot more things that our clubs can do … everyone’s just afraid to do it … ”

Cuffe said competition is not an issue among the clubs.

“Right now we’re both trying to get back off the ground,” Cuffe said. “We have common ground. We both want to see our majors get better.”

Violenta said these decisions will not only contribute to the success of the group but will create an environment where students of varying majors can associate and learn from each other.

“We’re not only trying to promote our club, but we’re also trying to promote enrollment … and find industry that will actually help,” Violenta said.

Cuffe and Violenta have been reaching out to various companies such as Intel for networking opportunities. They said ideas like this have been stirring for a long time.

Intel supported the group’s programming contest this semester and gave out solid state hard drives as prizes.

“There are so many things you can achieve by taking that initial leap,” Violenta said.

Cuffe and Violenta said they are living proof of how beneficial it is to students to have access to a group or club on campus.

“I used to be very shy,” Cuffe said. “This group has helped me to communicate with others through networking and talking with faculty. It has helped me to gain more of an understanding of what we can do with this degree.”

Alex Slavas and Robert Linggi can be reached at

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