CCC Council Nominations Needed

On November 29, 2010, in Computing Community Consortium (CCC), by MelissaNorr

The Computing Community Consortium (CCC) is seeking nominations, including self-nominations, for visionary leaders to serve a three-year term on the CCC Council. The Council chair is currently Ed Lazowska and Susan Graham is the vice-chair.

Council members are appointed by CRA and NSF for staggered three-year terms. In the aggregate, the Council must reflect the full breadth of the computing research community – research area, institutional character, etc. Details on the role of CCC, as well as the current composition of the Council, may be found on the CCC web page. The CCC is funded by NSF under a cooperative agreement with CRA.

Please send suggestions, together with the information below, to Eric Grimson (welg at csail dot mit dot edu) by December 15th. This committee’s recommendations will serve as input to CRA and NSF, who are responsible for making the final selection.

1. Name, affiliation, and email address of the nominee.
2. Research interests.
3. Previous significant service to the research community and other relevant experience, with years it occurred (no more than *five* items).
4. A brief biography or curriculum vitae of the nominee.
5. A statement from the nominee of less than 1 page, supporting his or her nomination by describing his or her ideas for, and commitment to, advancing the work of the CCC in engaging broader communities, finding wider funding sources, and encouraging new research directions. Remember that the CCC needs truly visionary leaders — people with lots of great ideas, sound judgment, and the willingness to work hard to see things to completion.

The CCC is charged with mobilizing the computing research community to answer these questions by identifying major research opportunities for the field, and by creating venues for community participation in this process. The CCC supports these efforts through advocacy with federal agencies, through visioning activities such as workshops, through arranging plenary talks on key topics at major venues, and through other community building activities.

 

The two co-Chairs of the President’s “National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform” — a bi-partisan committee charged by the President with coming up with solutions to the “fiscal challenges” the nation faces over the medium and long term — set off quite a kerfuffle today by releasing a set of draft recommendations that call for up to $200 billion in cuts to federal spending by 2015 (bringing spending down to 22 percent of GDP), reforms to the tax system and federal budget process, and bringing solvency to the Social Security system.

However, the two co-Chairs — former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-WY) and former Clinton Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles — also emphasized that any plan also had to protect “key investments” in infrastructure, education and R&D. One recommendation of the chairs is to establish a “cut-and-invest committee” to do two things:

  • “Cut red tape and inefficient spending that puts a drag on the economy and job creation.”
  • “Invest in education, infrastructure, and high-value R&D.”

(You can see a copy of the co-Chairs draft slides here and an “illustrative list” of cuts here.)

Today’s release is being treated as a “Chairman’s Mark” that has not yet been approved by the full 18-member committee. The final report may not receive the full support of the committee, but if it receives the support of at least 14 members, Democratic and Republican House and Senate leaders have promised to give the plan the commission recommends an up-or-down vote. And having such a prominent effort highlight the importance of continued support for R&D, even in a brutal fiscal environment, would be a big help to our arguments.

But, that noted, there are already a lot of people very unhappy with the recommendations. The unions are already thanking the co-Chairs for telling the American worker to “drop dead,” because of the reforms proposed to social security. House Speaker Pelosi and Sen. Minority Whip Durbin have already called the proposed discretionary cuts “unacceptable.” And, just looking through the illustrative list, there are a lot of sacred cows being gored.

So, it’s possible much of this is dead on arrival. But, even so, it will likely provide good kindling for moderates and conservatives looking to make hard choices for deficit reduction. Spending will get cut next Congress. It’s nice for supporters of science funding to have the fiscal commission on its side, but when the unions and other large interest groups start yelling about their programs getting cut, the science community needs to be equally vocal in making the case for protecting R&D.

The full report will come out in December, and much like the Gathering Storm report set playing field for R&D funding debate, this will probably set the playing field for the budget debate, so we’ll have all the details.

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On the Value of a Computer Science Education

On November 10, 2010, in Computing Education, CRA, by Peter Harsha

The Chronicle of Higher Education has a great piece today describing the importance of an education that includes computational thinking, and lamenting the fact that more students aren’t becoming computer scientists. The whole piece is worth reading, but here’s a great snippet from the conclusion, which encapsulates much of the message groups like Computing in the Core and the CS Education Week effort are trying to get across to education policymakers everywhere:

Computer science exposed two generations of young people to the rigors of logic and rhetoric that have disappeared from far too many curricula in the humanities. Those students learned to speak to the machines with which the future of humanity will be increasingly intertwined. They discovered the virtue of understanding the instructions that lie at the heart of things, of realizing the danger of misplaced semicolons, of learning to labor until what you have built is good enough to do what it is supposed to do.

I left computer science when I was 17 years old. Thankfully, it never left me.

Read the whole thing.