Carnegie Mellon University
December 18, 2012

News Brief: ACM Honors Wanda Dann As Distinguished Educator

Wanda DannThe 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, one of just six ACM members so honored this year.

Dann assumed leadership of the Alice Project in 2008, taking over for the late Randy Pausch. 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.

Carnegie Mellon 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.

In addition to the six Distinguished Educators, the ACM also announced three Distinguished Engineers and 32 Distinguished Scientists for 2012. The Distinguished Members hail from universities in Australia, Denmark, Italy, Korea, China, and the United Kingdom in addition to North America, and from leading corporations and research institutions around the world.

"This year's Distinguished Members demonstrate the advantages of ACM membership, which empowers self-improvement and inspires a bold vision for the future," said Vinton G. Cerf, president of ACM. "Through their participation in building the foundations for groundbreaking technologies, they have achieved exemplary levels of professional standing. We celebrate their entrepreneurial spirit, their creative energy, and their leadership in strengthening the computing community."