2016 CRA Conference at Snowbird
The biennial CRA Conference at Snowbird is the flagship invitation-only conference for the leadership of the North American computing research community.
Invitees: Computer science, computer engineering, and information technology department chairs; assistant, associate, and prospective chairs; directors of graduate or undergraduate education; directors of industry or government research labs/centers; and professional society or government leaders in computing.
The conference site: The Snowbird Resort is located in the Wasatch Mountains about 30 miles from Salt Lake City. A top-rated ski resort in the winter, off-season at Snowbird offers hiking amidst beautiful scenery.
This year at Snowbird:
The 2016 CRA Snowbird conference will kick-off with a plenary conversation between John Markoff, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who covers science and technology for The New York Times, and University of Washington professor Ed Lazowska. A second plenary will feature Jessica Hodgins, professor in the Robotics Institute and Computer Science Department at CMU. Panel sessions will include topics ranging from Smart Cities to computing’s place in the university to the future of work. A major focus of the conference will be booming enrollments, with a short plenary followed by parallel sessions devoted to the topic, its various ramifications, and ideas to help you deal with it, including best practices for managing growth. The meeting will also feature a view into computing and Washington from CRA’s Government Affairs Director Peter Harsha, and short after-dinner talks on computing research futures organized by the CCC. New this year, we will facilitate book and article discussion groups over coffee on Tuesday morning.
In addition to the conference, a workshop for new department chairs will be co-chaired by Stephanie Forrest, University of New Mexico, and Martha Pollack, University of Michigan, on July 17. There will be several hours of free time for networking, mingling, hiking, or hanging out and enjoying the gorgeous environment.
2016 CRA Conference at Snowbird Organizing Committee
CRA Contact: Andrew Bernat, abernat [at] cra.org
Mary Czerwinski (Microsoft Research) Co-Chair
Ellen Zegura (Georgia Tech) Co-Chair
Nancy Amato (Texas A&M)
Jeffrey Forbes (Duke University)
Steve Heller (Two Sigma)
H.V. Jagadish (University of Michigan)
Farnam Jahanian (Carnegie Mellon)
Chris Johnson (University of Utah)
David Liben-Nowell (Carleton College)
Daniel Russell (Google)
Barbara Ryder (Virginia Tech)
New Department Chairs Workshop
Stephanie Forrest (University of New Mexico) Co-Chair
Martha Pollack (University of Michigan) Co-Chair
July 17, 2016 (Sunday)
|02:00 PM||Registration (until 7:00PM)|
|02:00 PM||New Chairs Workshop
Co-Chairs: Stephanie Forrest, University of New Mexico, and Martha Pollack, University of Michigan
Speakers: Hank Levy, University of Washington, Donna Reese, Mississippi State University, and Barbara Ryder, Virginia Tech
This workshop will give new CS department chairs some of the skills to lead their organizations and work with deans, provosts, and advisory boards – the stuff they never told you in graduate school.
|06:00 PM||Welcome Reception|
|07:00 PM||Dinner/ Awards Presentation / After Dinner Speaker
Machines of Loving Grace: Computers After the Smartphone
John Markoff has been a technology journalist, a student of technology, and a confidant of leading technology insiders for 40 years.
In addition to his extraordinary reporting for the New York Times (and before that for the San Francisco Examiner, Byte Magazine, and Infoworld), John is the author of a half dozen books, including Cyberpunk: Outlaws and Hackers on the Computer Frontier (1991, with Katie Hafner), What the Dormouse Said: How the 60s Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry (2005), and Machines of Loving Grace: The Quest for Common Ground Between Humans and Robots (2015). The topic of the latter book – artificial intelligence and human values – is a particular current interest.
John is at his best when conversing about topics that draw upon his broad and deep knowledge of our field and the personalities that shape it. Ed Lazowska will engage John in such a conversation, with plenty of time for you to pose your own questions.
July 18, 2016 (Monday)
|06:00 AM||Registration (until 6:30PM)|
|08:30 AM||Disney Research: An Industrial Research Lab for an Entertainment Company
Chair: Ellen Zegura, Georgia Tech
|10:30 AM||Booming Enrollments: Understanding the Surge
Brief plenary followed by breakouts into parallel tracks.
“Booming Enrollments” is a topic on the minds of many CS faculty. In this session, we will share a few details on what has been learned recently via two CRA surveys (one to departments and one to students), present status of a National Academies Committee on the Growth of Computer Science Undergraduate Enrollments, and introduce the parallel breakout sessions that follow.
Programs for High Achieving Students
Speakers: Marie desJardins, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Maggie Johnson, Google, Bruce Porter, University of Texas at Austin, and Jennifer Rexford, Princeton
During booming enrollments, departments need to find ways to provide enriching and challenging experiences for top students. Honors programs, undergraduate research, specialized leadership experiences, and five year B.S./M.S. programs can engage such students and give them high quality experiences that make them competitive for graduate school admissions and fellowships. The panelists will describe experiences at their institutions with such programs.
Student Profiles/Motivations During the Enrollment Growth
Additional Speakers: Lecia Barker, University of Texas – Austin, Jeff Forbes, Duke University, and Rob Rutenbar, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
This panel will address a number of questions including:
Impact of Enrollment Increases on Department Practices
This panel will address a number of questions including:
|01:30 PM||Parallel Tracks
Today, communities all across the nation face a set of deeply interlocking physical, social, economic and infrastructural challenges. By collaborating at the intersection of computing, engineering and public policy, private and public-sector stakeholders are finding innovative solutions to the evolving needs of our cities – from enhanced delivery of city services to increased resiliency and efficiency of urban infrastructure and more sustainable environments. This digitization of the urban environment holds the potential to unlock transformational progress in key areas, including health and wellness, energy efficiency, building automation, transportation and public safety. This session will discuss the potential to bring interdisciplinary university researchers together with civic leaders and an engaged citizenry to build the Smart & Connected Communities of the future – with a focus on the catalytic role of computing, information science and engineering.
Extracurricular Temptations – Hackathons, Innovation Contests, etc.
This session will explore the growth and impact of activities targeted at computing students that operate outside the usual classes and degree programs. These temptations include hackathons and competitions where student may invest intense effort over short periods of time for rewards that may include fame and fortune. We will discuss how universities can and should support these activities to the benefit of students and overall educational goals.
Why CS Departments Should Embrace CS Education Research
Computing education research (CER) is an area of growing interest as participation in computing draws a larger and broader audience to our field. CER has a number of high quality venues for disseminating research, the NSF is now awarding both CAREER and Graduate Research Fellowship awards in this field, and departments are increasingly hiring CER faculty into tenure-track lines. This panel will address a number of questions including:
|03:30 PM||Networking Activities|
After Dinner Talks – Computing Research Futures
Computing research continues to be at the forefront of innovation, impacting society in ways never before imagined. In this session, speakers will further explore, looking at these new impacts and what the future might hold.
Theory for Society
As technology reaches increasingly deep into our everyday lives, changing the fabric of society woven by our interactions – with one another, government, and the corporate world – design decisions have increasing impact on basic social values such as privacy, fairness, and protection from physical and emotional harm. Complexity of this type requires mathematically rigorous notions that allow us to quantify these goods and their loss, explore fundamental tradeoffs and limitations, and lay the theoretical groundwork for what can be achieved. This talk will describe efforts of this type in privacy-preserving data analysis and fairness in classification, and touches on an agenda for future directions.
Computing Alone Doesn’t Solve Social Problems. So, What Next?
Speaker: Kentaro Toyama, University of Michigan
In spite of the do-gooder rhetoric of Silicon Valley, it’s no secret that computing technology in and of itself cannot solve systemic social problems. Even after a golden age of digital innovation, poverty persists, inequality is rising, and politics is more polarized than ever. Then what should we as computer scientists do, if we genuinely want to contribute to a better world? This talk offers suggestions for computing researchers and educators.
July 19, 2016 (Tuesday)
|06:00 AM||Registration (until 6:30PM)|
|08:30 AM||Reading Group Breakouts
We will hold organized discussions based on the articles and books below.
“Rescuing US Biomedical Research from its Systemic Flaws” in Proceedings of the National Academies (pdf available here)
An Everyone Culture: Becoming a Deliberately Developmental Organization by Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey (available for purchase here)
Stuck in the Shallow End: Education, Race, and Computing by Jane Margolis (available for purchase here)
Machines of Loving Grace: The Quest for Common Ground Between Humans and Robots by John Markoff (available for purchase here)
Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do (Issues of Our Time) by Claude M. Steele (available for purchase here)
|10:30 AM||Parallel Tracks
Data Science in the 21st Century
Lately, there is much “buzz” about the interdisciplinary area of data science. The use of analytics to extract information from large (or small) amounts of heterogeneous data, in order to inform decision making, is a “hot topic” in a broad set of areas such as policy, science, business, and more.
This panel, comprised of practitioners and academics, will explore the educational and research aspects/implications of the following questions:
Our goal is to stimulate discussion on these topics.
Department Rankers and Rankings: Truths and Consequences
Many currently feel the need for an authoritative ranking of CS departments in North America. Should CRA or another group be involved in creating one? To inform such discussions, speakers in this session will explain what is involved in creating such a ranking. We will hear about the UK ranking, which dictates resource allocation to CS departments in the UK, and about the US News ranking, which became popular following National Research Council’s exit from the field. We will also survey some of the issues connected with creating an authoritative ranking and not creating one.
Synthetic vs. Natural: Hybrids Between Technology and Biology
New technologies bring biology into the spotlight and open up novel opportunities to program, design, engineer and communicate with biological components. Programming and engineering give us the ability to not only understand the complexity of these biological components but also to take advantage of them in order to create new functions, applications and novel interfaces – enabled by technology but driven by nature.
In this panel, we will explore the new opportunities enabled by combining engineering, computer science and biology and present research examples using programmable materials, data storage in DNA, obfuscation and encryption in vivo, and tools for biological circuits. We hope to encourage discussion and inspiration around these biologically inspired research projects.
|01:30 PM||Parallel Tracks
Schools and Colleges of Computing
As computing continues to grow by leaps and bounds and permeate throughout the entire intellectual university landscape, many department chairs are finding their programs have outgrown (or are outgrowing) the confines of their current locations within colleges of engineering or science. Discussions are taking place at many departments exploring the possibility of expanding to a school or college of computing (or related name). This panel will explore the multi-fold administrative, social, strategic, and economic challenges confronting departments wanting to become schools or colleges of computing. Following short presentations by panel members sharing their insights from experience, we will have a lively discussion of challenges that will lead to connections and strategies for audience members who want their programs to grow into schools or colleges of computing.
Humans, Machines, and the Future of Work
Chair: Moshe Vardi, Rice University
Speakers: Vijay Kumar, University of Pennsylvania, Maja Mataric, University of Southern California, Tom Mitchell, Carnegie Mellon University, and Moshe Vardi, Rice University
This session will focus on the potential impact of computing technology on employment and the nature of work over the coming years. Panelists will suggest advances in artificial intelligence, robotics, and automation that they believe are possible and the impact these advances may have on employment. The panel will include an interactive discussion with the audience about likely trends, government policy debates that may arise as a result, and the role computing researchers can play in helping assure these debates are well-informed.
Whistling Past The Graveyard: Why the End of Moore’s Law Matters to All of CS
For decades, Moore’s Law doublings in transistor integration have allowed the computer industry to achieving increasingly capable and high-performance hardware and software with each new semiconductor generation. These scaling trends have underpinned most of the revolutionary computing breakthroughs of the past 50 years. Now however, scaling trends are slowing due to both physical limits in fabricating ever-smaller transistors and due to power dissipation limits in using them. Increasingly, computing hardware researchers and manufacturers are planning for the post-Moore era. There is no silver bullet. The solution will require fundamental changes at all levels of the computing stack. In this panel, distinguished researchers will lead a discussion regarding why all of computer science will be affected by these changes, and how computer science departments should be planning for and reacting to this now.
|03:30 PM||Making a Federal Case for Computing
Chair: Fred Schneider, Cornell University
Uncertainty with the political process is always a problem for those concerned about Federal investments in research, but 2016 promises to be even more uncertain than usual. Highly contentious presidential campaigns, heated congressional races, a polarized Congress, Federal investments in research under exceptional scrutiny and who-knows-what-else that will emerge in the months ahead will all likely impact the prospects for Federal spending on science. CRA’s own Peter Harsha will attempt to make some sense of this seemingly chaotic political landscape and discuss how and why CRA and CRA’s partners in the science advocacy community are navigating the terrain in support of the computing research community’s interests.
|05:30 PM||CS for All: Does your Department have a Role?
Organizer: Jan Cuny, National Science Foundation
The national CS for All Initiative aims to make great CS available to students in all of our schools, K-12. It’s an audacious goal, as any one who’s worked in our schools can tell you. Yet, it has gained tremendous momentum, with participation from federal agencies, states, school districts, and a number of private organizations, including Code.org, ACM, the Computer Science Teacher’s Association, NCWIT, and Teach for America.
Come to this session and talk to faculty from leading CS departments to find out what they are doing to support CS for All. Learn and discuss experiences launching the new AP CS Principles course, supporting research on CS education, providing professional development for local teachers, working across districts and states to create CS pathways, broadening participation across the pipeline, and involving undergraduates in K-12 with service learning projects.