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We - the Teaching Assistants (TAs), Undergraduate Learning Assistants (ULAs) and Prof. K - are what we will collectively refer to as “Mentors”. We look forward to helping you learn and succeed in this class and beyond.


Prof. K (Yekaterina Kharitonova) she/they

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Hi everyone! I am really excited about teaching this class again, since every time we offer it, we learn something new about how to present the introductory Computer Science concepts in a more intuitive, fun or creative way.

When I am not sharing my passion for Computer Science and Data Science, you used to be able to find me chatting with students, organizing board-game nights, drinking copious amounts of tea, and/or enjoying the beautiful Santa Barbara weather.

This term, however, I’m going to be on the other side of the world (11 time zones ahead of Santa Barbara), and while I will still be drinking lots and lots of tea, my focus is much more reflective, synthesizing different learning experiences, helping build positive habits, and drawing parallels between the lessons in the classroom and those we encounter outside of it.

Teaching Assistants

Ajit Jadhav Him/his

Hi everyone! I am a first-year master’s student in the CS department. I have experience working as a backend developer where I used Django (Python web framework) to develop backend systems for AI-based chatbot automation systems. I would love to help students learn to code and work on interesting projects. Hope you guys have a great time learning with this course!

Apurv Varshney Him/his

Hi everyone! My name is Apurv and I am a second-year graduate student in the CS department. I am currently working in the Bionic Vision Lab on AR/VR projects to solve blindness and low vision. In my free time I do photography and play Tennis (always ready for a match!). I am also big F1 fanatic (very much looking forward to this years championship).

I also did my undergrad in CS and still remember how overwhelmed I was when I took my first programming course. So, feel free to reach out to me and remember there are no ‘stupid’ questions. Hope you guys have a great time learning this course!

Christos Zangos Him/his

I am a first year PhD student at the CS Department of UCSB. I really enjoy teaching students. My research interests include AI, Machine Learning and Computational Neuroscience. Back in Greece, I played water polo professionally. I also hold a degree in classical music composition so in my free time you will probably find me practicing classical guitar. Feel free to reach out to me, I would be more than happy to help you with any question.

Deept Mahendiratta Him/his

HHi Everyone! I’m a first year master’s student in CS at UCSB. A bit about me - I completed my Bachelor’s in Electrical Engineering in 2018. After that, I worked as a Backend Developer at Flipkart - an Ecommerce company in India. While my preferred language to code in is Java, I absolutely love convenient and simple Python is for people just starting to learn how to code. I’ve built some cool things using Python, the coolest thing I’ve built is a stock prediction system! I’m really excited to meet you all virtually, and to guide you through this exciting journey of programming!

Justin Hemphill Him/his

I am currently pursuing a master’s degree in computer engineering here at UCSB. I enjoy teaching students how to code, and I have coded large projects before. I am currently interested in blockchain and creating applications on the blockchain.

Liubov (Liu) Kurafeeva she/her

Hi everyone, my name is Liubov (or Liu as a short variant). I am a first-year Ph.D. student in the CS department. I spend the Fall21 semester fully online due to the visa issues and this is my first semester on campus :) I am happy to be a newbie because it means there is a great journey ahead, and not a bit less great journey awaits you on CS8. We all, instructors, TA’s, ULA’s here to help you not only to complete this journey but to enjoy it as much as you could. Fun fact, when I was a freshman and had a similar course, my teacher had to hide from me and tons of my repeating questions. And believe me, many of them were very obvious as I understand now. So if you need someone who won’t be bothered by the 1000th same question - I am here for you, same as all TA, and ULA, and instructors, because we all were in your shoes. Outside computer science, I love board games, hiking, and swimming. Looking forward to meeting you all online on CS8 and on campus.

Nikunj Baid Him/his

Hey Everyone! Hope you are doing well and safe! I am a graduate student in the CS department, with a Bachelors’ Degree in the same field. I have around three years of industry experience working as a python/java developer. Python has been my go-to language for many of the utilities that I have built to date, both professionally as well as for personal use cases. I have some really interesting stories to share about the cool stuff that me and my friends did back during our undergrad days using python and I believe that would also open various doors for you to explore with this beautiful and yet so simple language! I like traveling, working out, and binge-watching for leisure. I am looking forward to meeting you all and getting to know you better! Feel free to reach out to me for anything you would want to discuss, be it related to the course or anything random. Hope you guys have a great time learning with this course!

Saikumar Yadugiri He/Him/His

Hey there! Welcome to CSW 8. My name is Saikumar. Everyone calls me Sai. I am a master’s degree student in the computer science department. In my undergrad, I majored in Electrical Engineering and I have 3 years of experience working as a Cloud Backend Developer in Oracle Cloud. I also have experience in website and video game development. I am a huge cinephile. You name a movie, and chances are I already watched it. I enjoy drawing and the general digital art world. I love playing single player RPGs in my free time. So, suggest some good games! I recreationally play badminton. I look forward to the fruitful interactions we have during the course and once again, welcome to the course!

Xinyu Liu she/her

Hello everyone, welcome to CS8! I am currently a first-year Master student in CS at UCSB, and S22 is my second quarter working as a TA. It has been 7 years since I print the first “Hello World!” on my screen, and I hope my knowledge of Computer Science and experience with coding (especially in Python) can help you all this quarter. For CS 8, as the first programming course for many of you, coding can be confusing at first, so feel free to ask questions :) Once you understand the logic behind those “nonsense”, it will never betray you.

Undergraduate Learning Assistants

Nicholas Wenstad He/Him

Hey! My name is Nicholas Wenstad and I am a third year Computer Science student! My passion for Computer Science began during my first year at UCSB, before I had even decided to switch into the Computer Science major. The first coding course that I took was CS8 in the Winter Quarter of 2020 and I was pretty intimidated since I had no coding experience at all. The environment that was created by Prof. K and the mentors of the course made it very inviting and easy to ask for help on anything that was confusing, which helped me excel in the course and created a strong foundation for the future of my collegiate career. As a ULA, I will strive to create a similar environment for students, as I know what it is like to be completely new to these challenging concepts. Now in my third year, I feel very confident in my computer science knowledge and look back at how far I have come since my first year. Please do not feel intimidated to ask for help or contact me with any question you might have! I want to help you succeed and develop a deep understanding of the concepts of Computer Science!

In my free time, I love to do anything outdoors such as camping, hiking, or any recreational sports. Before COVID I played many intramural sports at UCSB like basketball and flag football which I found to be a great way to meet people and take a break from the stress of school. I am a huge Denver Broncos fan and am in the championship round of my fantasy football league so let’s hope I bring home that $700 1st place prize. I am also a huge fan of anything Star Wars and Marvel, and love watching the midnight releases of their new TV shows and movies!

I am looking forward to interacting and meeting you all this quarter!

Sara Mandic She/her

Hey everyone :) I’m a fourth year CS major. CS8 was my first CS class at UCSB and I remember being so afraid coming to class as a freshman. I thought that everyone knew so much more than I did and I felt so intimidated. If you feel this way, trust me you are not alone. With the help of great professors and tutors who helped me feel welcome I improved so much in my abilities and gained a lot of confidence. I know that the course is fast paced and in moments you might feel extremely overwhelmed, but I, along with an amazing staff of TA’s, tutors, and a stellar professor, am more than eager to help. I want to share some tricks that I found helpful when taking CS8 and help you see that you can do it. If you have any questions in regards to course material, study methods, tips I have for being successful in this class, or if you just want to talk feel free to reach out to me. I’m a super friendly and social person and am always open to conversation. Outside of school I love playing volleyball and play for the UCSB women’s club volleyball team so you might see me at East Beach. Other than volleyball I love to paint and I love to travel. I look forward to meeting you all and I hope that this quarter will be an awesome experience.

Vaishnavi Himakunthala She/her

Hi everyone! My name is Vaishnavi, and I’m a first year CS major. This is my first time being an ULA, so I’m kind of nervous, but super excited to get to know you all!

In my free time, I love volunteering, reading, exploring the hiking/biking trails at UCSB, and trying out new restaurants. I’m also part of SWE (Society of women Engineers) and WICS (Women in Computer Science) at UCSB.

Although I never took CS8, python was also the first coding language I learned, so I understand how hard it can get for people who never programmed before. I still struggle/ have struggled with a lot of CS classes this year, so I understand exactly how hard it can get when learning something you’ve never done before while juggling other classes. One thing that helped me get through this struggle is to reach out for help to TAs and the Professors, and it has really helped me a lot. So, please don’t hesitate to reach out for any CS related questions or UCSB in general!

Can’t wait to meet you guys!