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Thursday, February 2, 2023

Connecting the coding community | ASU News – ASU News Now

Navigating the college experience online can be challenging — something many got a taste of as a result of the pandemic. It can be difficult to build relationships the same way in-person students do by attending classes on campus.
CodeDevils is working to bridge the gap at Arizona State University as one of the university’s first online-only student organizations, building a sense of community among both in-person and ASU Online students through coding projects and networking opportunities with industry experts. Graphic of a red robot with devil horns on a computer screen, with hazy blue-gray code overlayed on top CodeDevils prides itself on giving student members the tools needed to be successful in their curriculum and have a competitive edge in the industry after graduating. Image by Erika Gronek/ASU Download Full Image
Founded in 2016, the organization affords its nearly 2,200 registered members flexibility with study halls, club meetings, coding projects, hackathon competitions and networking opportunities with CodeDevils alumni. All opportunities are held virtually, with students connecting on several platforms including Discord and Slack.
According to Ruben Acuna, CodeDevils’ faculty advisor and assistant teaching professor for software engineering in the School of Computing and Augmented Intelligence, part of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, the organization gives students opportunities to build their skills in addition to a supportive community.
“CodeDevils manages several ongoing programming projects that are open to students who are interested in practicing their skills and experiencing working in a group setting on an applied project,” he says. “The projects are often mentored by alumni, giving students exposure to real-world practices and helping distinguish their resumes.”
Full Circle talked with CodeDevils student officers — President Rhett Harrison, Vice President Navya Gangrade and Treasurer Jordan Yee — to learn more about what it’s like to be part of the organization.
Harrison is an ASU Online senior majoring in software engineering and works full time as a software developer. Gangrade is a junior and Yee is a sophomore, both majoring in computer science. They all say that their involvement in CodeDevils has helped shape their college experiences by building friendships and making connections without relying on in-person opportunities.
Question: What is it like to be a member of an online-based student organization? 
Rhett Harrison: Wherever you can access the internet, you can be part of this organization. It’s great to help build relationships with people from all over the world. If a member over in the United Kingdom wanted to get a job in the United States, they could make connections here and vice versa.
Navya Gangrade: It’s really convenient because everything is online and over Zoom. Our meetings are recorded too, so even if you miss one you can still find out what’s happening and stay up to date. Our main form of communication is over Slack, which makes it easier for everyone to be in the same community. If you’re working on a project and you don’t understand something, you have immediate access to everyone online. You can still be part of something from home, which is great for in-person students who commute and can’t always be on campus.
Q: What was the reason behind starting a virtual student organization? 
Gangrade: There wasn’t another programming-based organization at ASU, so the previous president and student officers wanted to make it easier for online students to have something to get involved in. With this option online, there is no need to commute or be on campus, so that opens it up to so many more students who may be remote or in another state or part of the world.
Jordan Yee: The whole reason it’s an online organization is because it was built with an emphasis on creating opportunities for students to get involved from wherever they are.
Q: What kind of coding projects do you work on?
Harrison: We have three projects that are going on right now through the React component library. Essentially what we’re doing is using a JavaScript framework called React and building website Legos. They’re reusable bits of code that can be put anywhere on a website and customized to your liking. Instead of going through and repeating your code, this can be reused and has all the code with it already. Another one of our projects is a URL shortener and redirection tool that uses another web framework similar to React called Angular.
Yee: Another project we’ve been working on for a while is called DevilBot. It’s like a SlackBot or DiscordBot written in Rust. It will interact with you in the chat, and you can add on any other features you may want as well, like sending reminders and giving group updates. The project is led by a CodeDevils alumnus who currently works at Google, so that gives a great opportunity for students to interact with an industry expert and ask questions. Because it’s an ongoing project, there are always functionalities that new and existing members can work on.
Q: How has CodeDevils helped enhance your student experience?
Harrison: CodeDevils gave me the skills I needed to get my first job in software engineering. I worked on my interview skills and used connections as references, so I was able to show off the projects I’ve worked on. Our coding challenges helped me to prepare for my technical interviews as a software engineer.
Gangrade: It has definitely helped me grow on the coding side. Some of the languages we code in for our projects are not being taught in class, so CodeDevils offers steps to help students learn how to code and expand their knowledge of programming languages.
Yee: For me, the networking aspect has been a big factor in being able to meet and interact with people like our alumni members. Being a sophomore, I’m always looking for future career pathways like internships, so that’s a huge benefit of CodeDevils.
Communications Specialist, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering
It has been a long and unforgettable journey from Afghanistan to Arizona for Sabira Madady and dozens of other young women now furthering their education and finding community at Arizona State University.Madady is one of 64 students who found educational refuge at ASU in December 2021 after fleeing repressive rule reprised in their home country just months earlier. Many times since arriving at ASU…
It has been a long and unforgettable journey from Afghanistan to Arizona for Sabira Madady and dozens of other young women now furthering their education and finding community at Arizona State University.
Madady is one of 64 students who found educational refuge at ASU in December 2021 after fleeing repressive rule reprised in their home country just months earlier. Many times since arriving at ASU, she and others have recounted their harrowing experience leaving the country and community that shaped them before the Taliban takeover. And it is an important story to retell, not the least of which because it raises awareness for the plight of women living in Afghanistan and facing restrictions unimaginable for many in the Western world in terms of dress, conduct and education.
RELATED: 61 young Afghan women arrive to begin new life as Sun Devils
Yet, Madady also holds space to share fond and rarely told stories of Afghanistan — the nation in which she grew up, one framed by picturesque landscapes; skiing on snow-capped mountains; cycling along winding pathways; cooking, culture and a community at peace in the Bamyan Province of Afghanistan’s central highlands.
She is telling that story through a collection of photos now on display at the Multicultural Communities of Excellence space in the Student Pavilion on ASU’s Tempe campus. The exhibit is titled “Aaghil,” a Persian word meaning community and, as Madady explained at the grand opening of her exhibit, reflective of the images and memories she holds dear of her community in Bamyan.

Video: Sabira Madady (right) discusses her photo exhibit “Aaghil” with Northlight Gallery curator Elizabeth Allen.
The “Aaghil” exhibit features photographs captured by Madady and her photographer friend Shamshad Noori before they left Afghanistan in August 2021. To create the exhibit, Madady enlisted the help of some new friends from across the ASU community, including Elizabeth Allen, the curator of the School of Art’s Northlight Gallery in downtown Phoenix.
Allen, who mentored Madady through the curation process of the photo collection, was introduced to Madady through Melita Belgrave, associate dean for the Culture and Access Department at the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, which helped to plan and stage the exhibit in collaboration with Educational Outreach and Student Services’ Cultural Connections team.
The Coalition of International Students, the International Students and Scholars Center, Education for Humanity and the ASU Foundation also contributed to the launch of the “Aaghil” exhibit. The collection was recently displayed at a Greater Phoenix Leadership gathering at the Arizona Biltmore, and at an ASU Foundation event celebrating the anniversary of the Afghan students’ arrival to ASU. That event was held at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in downtown Phoenix and included remarks from ASU President Michael M. Crow and Gov. Doug Ducey.
“Aaghil” will be on display at the Student Pavilion in Tempe through Dec. 14 and is expected to move to other Multicultural Communities of Excellence locations on other campuses in the near future. Learn more about the exhibit and the stories behind the photos here. 
Top photo: A young Afghan girl walks past a mural that reads “Life in peace is beautiful” in Persian. Photo by Sabira Madady
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