Ongoing professional development and support is available throughout the year. Sign up for sessions and classes now.

Renuka KumarRenuka Kumar


Professor, Community College of Baltimore County  

Computer Science/Information Technology Department




How did you get into CS?

 Education is my second career. I started out in the insurance industry, worked there for many, many years, then had my two boys and decided to stay home with them for a little while. After that, I wanted a career where I could balance my home and work life and decided to go back to school to get my Masters degree. I thought teaching was a great idea because I had done a lot of training earlier on in my career and enjoyed it, so decided to focus on a teaching career. I had an undergraduate in economics and business administration, but I wanted to do my Master’s in something to do with technology; it interested me a lot and felt like the right field to go into, but without an undergraduate degree I couldn't do a graduate degree in computer science. However, just at that time, Towson University started offering an Applied Information Technology Master's degree. So that's what I went into, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I'm not a programmer but I am very much into applied technologies; that to me is a very relevant field, and that's how I got into it. I completed my Master’s, did a short internship at Baltimore County Office of Technology, started teaching as an adjunct at CCBC, loved it, and went on to be full-time there.


What are some successes and challenges you faced along your way? What support and opportunities made a difference?

I wasn’t much into programming when I started teaching and began with entry-level, Intro to Computer Science types of courses. But then, slowly, I was introduced to the Oracle Academy, and through the Oracle Academy I went on to become an Oracle-certified instructor, then on to learn Java and SQL. I did a lot of that because I have had very supportive department chairs and because of the resources that were made available to me. 

My success has been expanding my knowledge base. I'm able to teach many more classes now than I was 20 years ago when I started. Also, creating new coursework; I teach a very unique course that I think you probably won't find anywhere else called Diversity in a Technological Society; it’s a course that I feel is very relevant to our world today. 

I think everyone should know that computer science is not all about programming. That's not the be-all end-all; there's a whole world outside of that, and I try to expose my students to how they can best use technology in their careers, etc. Of course, there are also challenges along the way. I still shy away from teaching Java, but at least I was able to learn the language, and I think that access to additional training resources was very important in that.


What do you find compelling about CS?

I think- and I expand this out to all technology, not just CS- information technology IS our world today. You can’t escape it, so if you aren’t embracing technology, you're not going to be successful. We use it all the time, so if you know how to do some basic programming, it is going to be helpful to you in numerous ways. Simple things like knowing how to operate and troubleshoot your computer or smartphone, knowing the basic terminology and language, and understanding how things work are really important for everybody. So you've got to embrace it and be aware that this is our future. The more we learn about it, the better off we’ll be. Robotics and artificial intelligence are already in our world today and they’re going to be around forever. 


What are you excited about now?

Right now I'm working with Dianne [O’Grady-Cunniff from MCCE] on a project where we are infusing computer science into education courses. The last 6 months or so I've been working on creating a computer science course for education majors; that's been really challenging and satisfying. I piloted the first session in that 15-week spring semester course and I think the students are very appreciative of what they were learning. A lot of it was very new for them and some things, of course, took them a little longer to wrap their heads around.  But that's been really fun and challenging and continuing to improve on that is going to be an ongoing project for me.


Do you have any advice?

Go to any professional development (PD) opportunities that you can attend. Even as an instructor, I find that if I don't keep up with PD, I don't know what new stuff is coming out. There are new methods of teaching, new programs; there's a whole bunch of stuff you can learn, so I think attending professional development opportunities is very important, and we should all be doing that regularly. For most of us it's a requirement, but we still tend to shy away from certain things. I also think a lot of this should be made available for free if possible, even if we do it virtually, because many people don't have the funds. At CCBC, they do a great job promoting it; you're always learning when you attend new sessions or take new classes and continuing your education is very important for everyone, whether it's students, workplace people, whoever you are. Because of the way that our world and technology are always changing, it's important to keep up. So my biggest advice would be to stay on top of things. Learn from others, learn from any training opportunities that you can get.


Anything else on your mind?

Once I got into this project with Dianne, it was enlightening to me to see what’s happening outside my own department at work; to see how what I do affects what other people do, for example, in the education area. We all tend to just stay in our comfortable little worlds, but if we can push our boundaries a bit to go beyond that and learn about other, new things, I think that would be great for everyone. A realization I had is that we get very comfortable; I was very comfortable in my CS/IT department, and I didn't know what others were doing. But then realizing that yes, people in the education area could really benefit from my expertise as well, then getting to know them all and working with them has been wonderful. Going beyond what you're already totally comfortable with is good.

Dianne O'Grady-Cunniff, dogrady at usmd dot edu
Director, Maryland Center for Computing Education

Dr. Megean Garvin, mgarvin at usmd dot edu
Director of Research, Maryland Center for Computing Education

     ECEP Logo 2 Web        CSFORALL Logo Web        CSTALogo Web

Maryland Center for Computing Education
3300 Metzerott Rd. Adelphi, MD 20783
MCCE received initial support from the National Science Foundation, (MSP)2 Grant No. 0831970.