October 5, 2022 — Michael E. Papka, a deputy associate laboratory director at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory and director of the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility (ALCF), has been recognized by the 2022 Argonne Board of Governors’ Pinnacle of Education Award for his dedication and contributions to science education outreach activities aimed at inspiring youth.
“I’m really honored to receive this award,” said Papka, who is also a professor of computer science at the University of Illinois Chicago. “In my roles at Argonne and UIC, I know the importance of cultivating the next generation of scientists and engineers. By providing fun learning experiences and mentoring students early on, we can show them how exciting and rewarding a career in science can be.”
Since taking on leadership of the ALCF in 2010, Papka has launched several computer science summer camps for local high school and high school students, including Coding for Science Camp, Big Data Camp, and most recently an artificial intelligence-focused camp with colleagues from Northern University of Illinois.
All camps are run in collaboration with Argonne Educational Programs staff and other Argonne volunteers around computer science topics. The curricula are designed to introduce children to computational thinking skills through hands-on coding and data analysis activities and interactions with professional researchers.
“Mike’s track record of creating STEM experiences for students that encourage computational skills and highlight the work and mission of Argonne research helps build a strong pipeline to Argonne opportunities at the high school level and beyond,” says Rick Stevens, associate laboratory director for Informatics, Environment and Life Sciences.
In addition to his positions at Argonne, Papka has been teaching computer science to university students for over ten years. Prior to joining UIC, he was Presidential Research, Scholarship and Artistry Professor of Computer Science at Northern Illinois University.