Hello! My name is John, and I’m going to be chatting a little about my experience with the Students as Partners Program.

What is SaPP?

Students as Partners Program(SaPP for short) is a 1-2 term project, where you create/develop curriculum resources for a professor’s class. It can range from a website that shows how something is done to articles on what to focus on in a course. An example of something that could be but isn’t an SaPP project is, which was built to serve COMP2804 Students. The best part is, you get paid to create resources in SaPP. If you’re not thinking of going the academic route, then this is a great way to develop your industry skills.

How do I get involved?

Find a professor that you want to work with who is teaching a course that you have ideas about. Afterward, sign up together. The application form can be a bit scary, but it’s never failed in the past.

My Experience

What have you been doing during your SaPP participation? What were your main goals? What, if any, changes were implemented as a result of this project?

I have been working on a resource that allows students to gain a deeper understanding on the inner workings of lab experiments. That way, they’ll know the pitfalls of making labs and how they should be doing it. For me, this involved making labs myself. The goal was to let students experience labs instead of only reading about them in textbooks.

What types of work activities did you participate in?

Every single week, I would meet with Professor Hirotani, who was my SaPP supervisor/professor. We would discuss the progress of last week. Stuff like whether we liked the time between word entries and whether the site was accessible to all students. Afterward, we would discuss what I would be doing for the next week. This would be stuff like making a new lab or adding a new feature to the site.

How was your experience working with a faculty partner?

Holy moly, it was amazing. Professor Hirotani isn’t like guru hippy down to earth, but she’s really sweet and human. She’s more focused on me doing my class homework than I am about doing my class homework. She’s also super flexible. We cancel sometimes, and we know that it’s fine.

Why did you choose to participate in SaPP? How was your experience working with a faculty partner?

Here’s the weird part. I didn’t take the initiative on this one. Professor Hirotani approached me and and asked if I’d like to work with her on something. The first draft, research assistant, didn’t work out, so we moved on to SaPP. She noted that my assignments were well-formatted, which is why she asked me. Of course, I said yes and the rest is history.

What are the most valuable skills you’ve developed?

Hands down is empathy. I’ve learned to put myself in the shoes of students and professors and think about what they would want. Professor Hirotani is just such a big empath, and it’s rubbed off on me. Every single time she was sick or I had to host a CCSS event, we’d get it.

What experiences through SaPP have been most impactful? Surprising? Exciting? Challenging?

The most impactful part was the work. I am able to develop my skills as I please. It’s the amount of independence given to me that makes me feel like I’m actually doing something. The most surprising would be finding out the difficulty of deciding how long it would take to finish. Given, we have a rough draft complete; however, we got sidetracked by vacations and exams and whatnot. The most exciting part was seeing the site come together. I’m not a web developer, so seeing the site come together was really cool. The most challenging part was completing a fusion module. Hands down, I knew most of the stuff the module told me. I just wasn’t really aware I was doing it all. I never stopped to think about it is all.

What do you feel you have gained from participating in SaPP that you might not have gained otherwise?

The chance to not only put something on my resume but finally use the skills we were taught in class as Computer Science students. Most of the time, students don’t have the motivation to do something outside of class, but I have a purpose to use these skills outside of class.

What would you tell other students considering participating in a SaPP project?

Do it. It’s a great way to develop your skills and get paid for it. You can also get a reference letter from your professor, which is always nice. It’s also a great way to get to know your professor. I’ve had a lot of fun with Professor Hirotani, and I’m sure you’ll have fun with your professor too.