ProCSI program sparks a 10th grader’s passion for computer science

Precollege ProCSI Program students

Armani Benson is a 10th grader from Madison. He attended a University of Wisconsin–Madison precollege program called ProCSI (pronounced “proxy”), the Computational Science Initiative. ProCSI is a one-week residential program, organized by the Simulation-Based Engineering Lab and the Wisconsin Applied Computing Center, which teaches traditionally underrepresented 10th and 11th grade high school students concepts in the computational sciences, exposing them to the applications of engineering.

ProCSI helps students connect fundamental math and science concepts to advanced concepts in computer science and engineering. Students experience computer-aided design of physical objects, problem-solving activities using computer simulation software, and tours of engineering labs where cutting-edge research takes place. ProCSI shows them how computers are used to make discoveries and lead innovation.

The program also introduces participants to college life, motivating them through a higher understanding of STEM fields. Since its founding, nearly 200 students have participated in the program.

Armani and his ProCSI roommate Malakai Murphy received the first Continuing Studies Precollege Program Scholarships by winning a computer coding contest at school. UW–Madison Continuing Studies sponsored their ProCSI camp supplies and ProCSI sponsored the cost of the program.

Armani’s story

Armani Benson

Armani Benson said one of the best parts of the ProCSI program was meeting new friends.

One of the best things about ProCSI was seeing the UW campus. We toured a lot of engineering buildings. We saw a nuclear reactor, the automotive engineering department, a flight simulator, and medical robots. It was cool to see all the things UW has to offer. I’m definitely interested in coming to UW and majoring in computer science.

The program also taught us about applying for college and college life. We looked at college applications and learned about the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). We stayed in Dejope Hall, and it was very nice. There were so many options in the cafeteria—wow! It was cool to see all of the places to study and hang out there. And the dorm had amazing views.

Our instructors and counselors were very welcoming. They made it feel like it wasn’t school. We were learning a lot, and the instructors explained everything so well. But they made you feel like it was your home, too. We were given independence. They trusted us to find our own way to meals and classes, but they were always there to help.

One of the best parts of the program was meeting other students from different backgrounds. We all got to be friends. At night, we would play games, listen to music, or just hang out. It was great. I liked every single person in our group. I would go from dorm room to room and talk to everyone like I had known them forever.

During the program on the last day, everybody gave presentations. It was great, but it was sad because we knew we had to say goodbye. I was sad to say goodbye to our instructors, too.

I would definitely recommend this program. It could be one of the best experiences you have.

To learn more about ProCSI or to register, see the ProCSI program webpage.