Color Coded, a new club at Cal Poly, is shedding light on the issue of diversity in the computer sciences both in the field and on-campus.

The club was founded in Spring 2018 by software engineering sophomore Simon Ibssa and computer engineering sophomore Mugen Blue.

“We aim to create a community where these historically underrepresented students can feel welcome, find mentors and make connections,” Color Coded senior adviser and associate professor of computer engineering Foaad Khosmood said.

The club focuses on Black, Latinx and Native American representation in the engineering and computer science community at Cal Poly and worldwide.

According to Ibssa, Color Coded hopes to lead these underrepresented students to success, whether that be in the form of resume workshops, guest industry speakers or opportunities for internships.

Khosmood, along with co-founders Ibssa and Blue, recently visited Arellanes Junior High School in Santa Maria to speak to the younger students about pursuing a career in computer science and engineering. This visit is the first of many that the club plans to take to spread their message of encouraging diversity in the field.

The idea for Color Coded predates Ibssa and Blue’s time at Cal Poly. Ibssa’s older brother, who was a software engineer at Google, introduced him to coding at the age of 12. By age 15, Ibssa had started a club called There’s An App For That at his school, later renamed the Computer Science Club of Elk Grove High School.

“I was always curious as to why I was the only Black kid in the club that I had started myself,” Ibssa said.

Color Coded | Courtesy

That curiosity only grew after starting in Cal Poly’s computer engineering program.

“You can count this stuff on your hands — how many people are Black in [computer science] here. And because of that, I wanted to be able to connect those students. We all know each other, but we’re not all connected or in a community,” Ibssa said.

The students who were interested in the club worked on programming over the summer and debuted themselves for their first Week of Welcome club showcase in September of 2018. Given the strong engineering presence on campus, Color Coded did well at the club showcase and received many contacts from interested students, Ibssa said.

“I want to be able to connect people and give them resources like my brother did when I was 15, to be able to have internship opportunities, be able to be successful,” Ibssa said.

Color Coded meets on Thursdays at 11:10 a.m.

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