2 years ago
When ASMSA computer science instructor Carl Frank received his invitation to be inducted into the Arkansas Academy of Computing, he wasn’t sure if he would be able to accept.
The organization recognizes professionals who have provided at least 25 years of service toward the computing industry and the state of Arkansas. One of the requirements for induction, however, is that honorees must attend the annual induction banquet.
The day before he received notice of his induction, Frank had committed to taking a team of ASMSA students to the first High School Startup Weekend at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock. Participants would spend 54 consecutive hours over a weekend developing a viable startup business and presenting it to a team of judges.
The conflict worked itself out, and Frank and six others were inducted into the Academy during the Arkansas Academy of Computing ninth annual Induction Banquet at the Springdale Country Club on April 4.
Frank said he felt honored and proud to be an inductee. Frank’s father, Ben, attended the banquet to witness his son’s induction.
“My dad was tickled to attend with me,” Frank said.
Frank, 51, said his induction will help him to continue to serve as an advocate for computer science education in Arkansas. He serves as president of the Arkansas chapter of the Computer Science Teachers Association and is president of the Glen Rose School Board, on which he has served for 13 years.
Frank said his teaching and work experience combined with his leadership roles provides him an opportunity to advance computer science in Arkansas. Frank said it is important for the economic well-being of the state for Arkansas schools to produce computer science students. Many of those students end up going out of state to work for Google, Intel, Microsoft and other large technology companies, leaving a dearth of qualified professionals in Arkansas.
There are perhaps a dozen schools in Arkansas, including ASMSA, that have true computer science programs, he said. Many of the other schools are teaching basic computer classes, such as mobile applications or other courses based on AP computer science curriculum, but the classes are taught by faculty who aren’t necessarily trained in computer science.
“There is not a state certification for computer science teachers in Arkansas,” he said. “ Some of the classes are taught by math teachers, some by business teachers. Computer classes are being taught in more schools in Arkansas as they try to add value to their particular institution or school district.”
Each ASMSA student must take at least one computer programming course as part of the required curriculum. Available courses also cover programming languages such as Java, C++ and Python. There are also unique course offerings such as game programming and AI/robotics.
Frank said the main focus of the Academy in the past has been to award scholarships to students and teachers. At the business meeting that was held along with the induction ceremony, members discussed how important it is for the Academy to develop partnerships with the Computer Science Teachers Association and the Arkansas STEM Coalition, perhaps even having a computer science summit.
Frank joined the ASMSA faculty in November 1995. He had recently returned to Arkansas after serving on the faculty at Cameron University in Lawton, Okla. He interviewed with a committee that was leading a search for a network administrator for ASMSA, but there was also a computer science position open. Frank took the computer science position, although he also spent part of his first year as the network administrator for the campus.
Frank had previously taught at Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, his alma mater, and worked in the private sector as well. It was his interaction with students that always drew him back to education. It was also the students who led him to accept the full-time faculty position at ASMSA over the network administrator position.
“I’ve really enjoyed teaching. I accepted the job. I didn’t know the salary, and I didn’t know if they made teachers live here. I was just ready to get back into the classroom,” he said, indicating how much he wanted to remain in the teaching field.
He decided to become a teacher thanks to Clarence Durand, a computer science professor at Henderson State who served as Frank’s undergraduate adviser.
Frank served as Durand’s tutor and grader. Many of the students who Frank tutored gave positive comments about his ability to help them. Durand encouraged Frank to get his master’s degree so he could one day return to Henderson to teach.
After earning a master’s degree from Southern Mississippi University and a public sector job, he would return to teach at Henderson and get to call Durand a colleague for a time.
With Frank’s induction into the Academy, he gets to once again call Durand a colleague. Durand was inducted to the Academy in 2008.