The college’s outstanding graduate pursues community change, computing excellence

In her first year at CU Boulder, Elizabeth Eyeson (CompSci’23) said she realized that the Computer Science Department lacked high-quality office time or study space.

“I had my first office hours in the old aerospace wing [before the wing’s renovation] and remembers being shocked at the state he was in. All I could think was, why do we have office hours in this dark, cramped, outdated space,” Eyeson said.

He then saw an opportunity to work with an interdisciplinary team of faculty and students on solutions for the department by joining the Computer Science Departmental Action Team.

“I thought, maybe if I join the team, we could get better studio space,” he said.

But Eyeson has done more than just slightly improve the space, said department chair Ken Anderson. “She has been a leader in redesigning the lab as a more welcoming and inclusive environment.”

Today, the completely renovated Computer Teaching Laboratory has classrooms for office hours and desks where, any day of the week, students can be seen studying and collaborating.

The space also has a digital mural created in collaboration with local artist Graham Fee and faculty member Elisabeth Stade. Future plans for the space include dedicating study rooms to several pioneers in the field and an art installation honoring Professor Mike Eisenberg.

“The benefits of his hard work will be felt for years to come,” Anderson said.

During her time at CU Boulder, Eyeson emerged again and again as a community leader, proactive scholar, and connecting force, leading her to be recognized as the Spring 2023 Outstanding Undergraduate of the College of Engineering and Applied Science and a Silver Medal Finalist of the Colorado Engineering Council.


In her freshman year, Eyeson was invited to her first National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) meeting.

“Dr. Tanya Ennis told me about NSBE when I first visited CU,” Eyeson said.

Ennis, a former director of the Center for Expanding Opportunities Through Leadership and Diversity (BOLD) and a CU Boulder NSBE consultant, said she recalls meeting Eyeson.

“She was so shy and trying to figure out how she was going to fit in. I told her about NSBE and about BOLD, and I started seeing her at the center every day,” Ennis said.

“Joining NSBE meant being a part of something bigger than myself. It’s a community of people who are passionate about engineering, science, and ensuring all voices are heard regardless of background,” Eyeson said.

NSBE quickly became a big part of Eyeson’s life and helped her learn about project management, leadership, networking and professionalism.

During his time with NSBE, Eyeson held a variety of roles including president, vice president and interim president, among others. In addition to her current role as CU NSBE Vice Chair, Eyeson is also active at the regional and national levels of NSBE as Vice Chair of Region VI 22-23 and incoming Chair of Region VI 23-24.

Region VI oversees 87 chapters with more than 1,700 members in the western United States and abroad. Managed the board behind the 2022 Regional Leadership Conference in Beaverton, Oregon, and the 2022 Fall Regional Conference in Los Angeles, which attracted hundreds of members ranging from pre-collegiate to professional, across the Western US and abroad .

“NSBE has helped me grow as a leader and a role model for others. I never imagined so many underclassmen would come to me for advice. It has been so rewarding to help support people who are in a similar situation to me years ago,” he said.

Eyeson said she is grateful for the support she has received from the BOLD Center.

“I was looking for people who could relate to my experience as a black woman in computing. Many of my friendships have been made through BOLD and BOLD student societies such as CU Women In Computing and NSBE. I have been privileged to attend multiple conferences and volunteer among other great experiences. In the BOLD Center, we are all working together to become the engineers and scientists of tomorrow,” Eyeson said.

He added that although students may feel like they are alone, “There are other people, it’s about finding them. If Dr. Ennis hadn’t invited me to that first NSBE meeting, I never would have been able to get involved like I did.” me, and to extend it to students who will come after me,” he said.

IT excellence

Eyeson said applying her skills outside of the classroom was essential to her success.

In addition to being a Norlin and BOLD Fellow, Eyeson has been nominated to become a National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME) Fellow through the BOLD Center.

This led to her being selected for the inaugural Google NACME Applied Machine Learning Intensive (AMLI), where over the course of eight weeks, Eyeson and her team developed a neural network to help align an agent’s actions artificial intelligence with human norms and values.

“Elizabeth’s project was so impressive that it was open sourced and highlighted as a featured project,” said her advisor and mentor, University of Kentucky professor Corey Baker. “She has constantly pushed herself to learn.”

Eyeson said she applied for every research and internship opportunity she could find. One of these was the National Institute of Standards and Technology Professional Research Experience Program. When that opportunity moved online in the summer of 2020 due to the pandemic, Eyeson persisted.

She became a published academic author with the National Lab and continues to work for them today, developing software for their Public Safety Communications Research Division as part of the Mission Critical Voice group.

Building on her success at AMLI and her experiences with NIST and Autodesk, Eyeson recently completed her Computer Science capstone project.

He worked with his team and sponsored Enertiv to create a neural network to optimize startup and shutdown of commercial HVAC systems and reduce the carbon footprint of stakeholders.

“When I think of Elizabeth, I think of constant elevation,” Ennis commented. “She would come in office hours with a list of questions and engage in discussions about learning. Her attitude was very much about constantly building on her previous learning experiences. She refused to get stuck.”

Eyeson said that in her work as a community leader and scholar, she looks for places where she can apply her skills and grow at the same time. “If you see a problem, find an opportunity to address it. You never know, you might be the one to fix it,” Eyeson said.

Eyeson plans to pursue a PhD in computer science from the University of California at Los Angeles with a research focus at the intersection of healthcare and computer science.

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