An online Bistro ordering system. A map of gender-neutral bathrooms on campus. A virtual lost-and-found for items forgotten. One club is behind the creation of these Clark resources.
C4, also known as the Clark Competitive Computing Club, flexes its technological prowess to help close the gap between the computer and data science fields and the rest of Clark.
“We are trying to promote a sense of community,” says C4 President Nina Carlson ’24, a computer science and economics double major. “I feel like there’s a stereotype among people in tech that computer science majors don’t talk. They sit in their rooms. They code all day.
“We’re trying to break that stereotype.”
C4 was founded to take students to hackathons, but its mission quickly grew into something bigger. The group focuses on community-building and unity within the computer science, data science, and game design majors, and ensuring these departments feel welcoming to all disciplines on campus.
The organization has more than 100 members, making it one of the largest STEM clubs at Clark, and frequently hosts community engagement events and networking opportunities.
Carlson and C4 Vice President Ella Grady ’24, a computer science and political science double major, hope to encourage more women and gender non-conforming students to seek degrees in a largely male-dominated field.
“One of our goals is to show people that if we look like this and we can do it, then you can do it, too,” says Carlson.
To motivate more students to get involved with C4, the club recently partnered with Clark Technology, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship (TIE) to host a hackathon, and with All Kinds of Growth (AKOG) and the Clark University Educational Studies club (Splash!) to host workshops for children in Main South.
“We want to grow the department as a whole, engage more students on campus, promote diversity within the department, and most of all,” Carlson says, “we want to be a resource to all students — computer science or not.”
Carlson thinks this focus on inclusivity has helped harmonize the connection between Becker School of Design & Technology students and other STEM majors.
“I always tell people that you can learn any skill a job wants you to learn. You can learn to code. You can learn to program. What you can’t learn is how to be a person,” Carlson says. “I think one of the best things about Clark is that we have such a diverse community of people studying so many different things. I get to talk to all different types of people all day.”
C4 intends to teach its members how to coexist in a rapidly changing world. One of those changes is the speedy development of artificial intelligence, or AI, technology and its impact on the job market.
“Every technology was new at one point. Look at the computer itself, for example. If we didn’t integrate that, we wouldn’t have jobs,” says Grady.
Carlson, who is entering the software development field next August, encourages people to learn more about AI before giving in to their fear about its potential uses.
“People are a little bit concerned by it, which is fair,” she says. “We don’t know where it’s going, but I think the best way to deal with it right now is to not be afraid of it, but to embrace it and to incorporate it.”
The two believe working with this technology helps prepare for a future where AI is a productivity aid rather than a source of unease. This is something Carlson experienced firsthand as a software engineering intern this past summer.
“I wrote maybe half of my code by hand,” she says, “but the other half was generated for me by AI, and the company I was working for encouraged this.”
For times and locations of C4 meetings, check C4’s Instagram page.