Jan Plane Wins the ACM SIGCSE Award for Broadening Participation in Computing Education

Plane was recognized for her three decades of work advancing diversity and computing education.
Descriptive image for Jan Plane Wins the ACM SIGCSE Award for Broadening Participation in Computing Education

Jandelyn "Jan" Plane, a principal lecturer emerita of computer science at the University of Maryland, has been awarded the 2024 Award for Broadening Participation in Computing Education by the Association for Computing Machinery's Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education (ACM SIGCSE). This honor recognizes her significant contributions to the computer science education community, especially in enhancing diversity and access in the field. The award will be presented in Portland, Oregon, from March 20-23, 2024.

Initiated in 2024, the ACM SIGCSE Award for Broadening Participation in Computing Education sets a precedent for recognizing and celebrating individuals who work to make computing education more accessible and diverse.

The award recognizes members who innovate to make computer science education more inclusive across educational sectors, including K-12, community colleges and beyond.

"It's gratifying to see my passion for broadening participation in computing recognized with an award,” Plane said. “Over the past 10 to 15 years, awareness of its importance has grown internationally for socioeconomic advancement and on an individual level for inclusivity."

Over a 30-year career, Plane has led efforts to enhance the computer science field through extensive capacity-building initiatives. 

Plane’s legacy of building computing programs and promoting diversity left a lasting impact at UMD. She created and founded programs such as the Iribe Initiative for Inclusion and Diversity in Computing (I4C), the Maryland Center for Women in Computing (MCWIC), the Advanced Cybersecurity Experience for Students (ACES) and CompSciConnect

"I've been passionate about broadening participation in computing since the early 80s," Plane shared. "At UMD, I was fortunate to pursue this alongside my faculty duties, seeing hundreds of students benefit. It's truly rewarding to witness individuals who never envisioned themselves in computer science now pursuing it because they found their passion."

Her lifelong work includes significant contributions to building educational capacity through curriculum development and educator training, especially internationally.

"I went to Rwanda to teach a class on Unix-based computers after the genocide,” Plane shared. “That short-term endeavor turned into a five-year commitment as I witnessed the transformative impact on the university and its students. From being a technological hub in Africa to seeing former students in leadership roles, the experience changed my perspective and highlighted the importance of international engagement. Despite the challenges of frequent travel and cultural differences, it was a profound learning experience that underscored the privileges we often take for granted."

As an associate professor at Ripon College in northern Wisconsin, Plane remains dedicated to giving back. 

"I've been involved in diversity efforts, partnering with organizations like the Boys and Girls Club, mentoring a high school robotics team to improve their coding skills and participating in the Wisconsin Computer Science Teachers Association,” Plane said. “Having led initiatives in Maryland to expand computer science education, I am focused on adapting those strategies to meet the specific needs of Wisconsin's communities.” 

As the inaugural recipient of the ACM SIGCSE Award for Broadening Participation in Computing Education, Plane sets a high standard for future honorees. Her impactful work at the University of Maryland and her international efforts showcase a career committed to making computer science more inclusive and accessible. Plane's recognition celebrates her past contributions and underscores the importance of broadening computing participation for socioeconomic advancement and individual inclusivity, inspiring continued efforts to make computer science education accessible to all. 

—Story by Samuel Malede Zewdu, CS Communications 

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