The Alice Project
The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) has named Wanda P. Dann, senior systems scientist in the Computer Science Department and director of the Alice Project, as a 2012 Distinguished Educator.
She is one of just six ACM members to receive the honor this year.
Dann assumed leadership of the Alice Project in 2008, taking over for the late Randy Pausch, a professor of computer science and CMU alumnus who became world famous for his inspirational "Last Lecture" video and book.
During her tenure, the Alice group developed and released Alice 3.1, the latest version of an innovative software environment for teaching computer programming.
Alice enables programming novices to create 3D animations, making it fun for students to learn programming concepts.
Prior to becoming director, Dann had been an associate professor of computer science at Ithaca College and had collaborated for 10 years with Pausch and the other members of the Alice team, co-authoring a popular textbook for Alice.
CMU makes two versions of Alice available for downloading free of charge. Based on textbook sales, the Alice 2.3 version is used in 15 percent of U.S. colleges and universities.
It also has proven popular in high schools nationally and internationally. Alice is in use in Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, Southeast Asia and Argentina and has been adopted nationwide by Costa Rica. A Spanish version is available and the Alice team is working with volunteers from the Alice community to translate it into additional languages.
Dann has published numerous papers on the use of program visualization in introductory programming. Papers have appeared in ACM's Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE) Inroads, the Computer Science Education Journal, and other related publications.
Her leadership as a computer science educator has been recognized in her various roles as SIGCSE Technical Symposium publications editor, special projects chair, program chair, symposium chair and the SIGCSE Board.