The National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) makes substantial investments in promoting undergraduate research opportunities. These investments reflect the value that CISE attaches to a well-designed undergraduate research experience; it can be an essential, unifying element of a quality CISE-centric undergraduate program. In this article, CISE describes its approach to undergraduate research experiences, and calls on faculty to further promote a culture of undergraduate research within academic departments to strengthen the impact of current and future CISE investments.
With undergraduate enrollment in computing majors growing, up 24.1% from last year as reported in this year’s Taulbee Survey, we as a community have a responsibility to ensure quality research experiences for our students. Quality undergraduate research experiences are essential for students in all STEM disciplines, particularly students pursuing degrees in computer, information, and computational science and engineering. The interdisciplinary nature of computing (and closely related) disciplines has produced a new generation of students seeking blended degree programs that weave together computing and other disciplines through courses and deeper experiential learning. The rapidly evolving nature of computing disciplines coupled with the pervasive nature of computing and the explosion of computational and data-enabled approaches to problem-solving demand unifying research experiences to prepare students for the fullest career opportunities and to address workforce needs that will sustain our field’s leadership well into the future.