Computing Research News

November 2014     Vol. 26/No.10

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Taulbee Survey Deadline November 19, 2014

By Betsy Bizot, Director of Statistics and Evaluation, CRA

Is your academic unit participating in the 2014 CRA Taulbee Survey? It’s not too late! The Taulbee Survey is the principal source of information on students and faculty in Ph.D.-granting computing programs in North America, and we’d like to include you.

Three reasons to participate in the CRA Taulbee Survey:

  • More complete participation = more accurate picture of trends in the field. Many people (hopefully you, too) turn to the Taulbee Survey for answers. But the information we can provide is only as good as the information we receive.
  • Participating departments get preliminary salary results at the end of December and complete results in advance of publication.
  • Beginning in spring 2015, the Taulbee Survey will offer an online benchmarking capability. Departments can compare their own responses to the aggregate responses of a self-defined peer group. But, this feature will only be available to CRA member departments that participate in Taulbee.

The preliminary deadline for salary data this year is November 19. The extended deadline is January 20 for the remaining Taulbee data: degrees awarded, student enrollment, faculty numbers, and research expenditures.

Departments that grant the Ph.D. in Computer Science, Computer Engineering, or Information are eligible to participate in Taulbee. (Nondoctoral departments should check out the ACM survey of Non-doctoral Departments in Computing [NDC].)

For additional information on the Taulbee Survey, contact Dr. Betsy Bizot at bizot@cra.org or at 202-266-2943.

Announcements

By CRA

National Research Council Seeks Comments on Future NSF Advanced Computing Activities

Advanced computing is being used to tackle a rapidly growing range of science and engineering problems. At the National Science Foundation’s request, the National Research Council is examining future needs and priorities for advanced computing and is developing a framework to guide future investments. Community input will inform the creation of the final report, which the NRC will release in 2015.

For more on the study, to view the NRC’s interim report, and to submit comments, visit nas.edu/ScienceComputing. Comments should be submitted by January 31, 2015.

Nominations Open for CRA Service and Habermann Awards

The Computing Research Association invites nominations for the CRA Distinguished Service Award and the A. Nico Habermann Award for 2015.

Send a nomination letter (no longer than two pages) that describes the contributions on which the nomination is based to awards [at] cra.org. Refer to the appropriate “Guidelines for Nominators” for the award. Include the candidate’s current curriculum vitae. Questions or comments may be addressed to awards [at] cra.org. Nominators are responsible for collating the nomination materials before e-mailing the complete package to: awards [at] cra.org. The deadline for receipt of nominations is December 12, 2014.

Nominees Sought for CRA Board

The Computing Research Association seeks your help in suggesting nominations for its Board of Directors. We seek individuals who have time, energy, initiative, and resources to work on CRA issues on behalf of the entire CRA community. Ours is a working board, and all members are expected to do a fair share of the work.

The deadline for receipt of nominations is December 5, 2014. Additional information is available at http://cra.org/about/nominees. Click here to download the nomination form. Questions can be sent to elections [at] cra.org.  

CRA-W Grad Cohort Workshop - Apply today

We are now accepting applications for the 2015 CRA-W Grad Cohort Workshop scheduled to take place in San Francisco, California on April 10-11, 2015.

Click here for more information and to apply.

Broadening Participation in AI

By Andrea Danyluk, Adele Howe, Maria Gini, Monica Anderson

At AAAI-13, several attendees remarked that the number of women and underrepresented minorities in attendance seemed even lower than in previous years, and they started talking about what could be done. So for 2014, with the encouragement of AAAI and financial support from the CRA-W and Coalition to Diversify Computing (CDC) through the Discipline Specific Workshops program, we – Maria Gini, Adele Howe, Monica Anderson, and Andrea Danyluk – organized a set of activities aimed at increasing the number of women and members of other underrepresented groups in AI by encouraging and mentoring students and post-docs.

The activities were held at AAAI-14 in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada and spanned the entire conference: July 27-31, 2014. The sessions were designed to provide career mentoring, build community, and give participants the opportunity to network with peers and established researchers. The program also provided registration and travel support to many participants who needed it.

Twenty-one students and post-docs participated, including 16 women and 5 men. Nine participants self-identified as African American or Hispanic.Beyond the organizing committee, a dozen AI researchers volunteered as panelists and mentors.

Building a Community

Building on a similar model for a workshop held at the Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems (AAMAS) conference in 2013, the AAAI-14 Discipline Specific Workshop began with an afternoon session the day before the start of the main conference program. The first part of this session comprised introductions and a career panel. Panelists discussed and answered questions on a wide range of topics, including the process of picking a research area and advisor, tips for networking, and research and teaching careers post Ph.D. The remainder of the session was devoted to small-group mentoring. Participants met in groups of two or three with established researchers in related subareas of AI to discuss research and get advice.

Beyond being an informational and mentoring session, this segment of the workshop was designed to build community. Participants had plenty of time to meet each other, and the mentors encouraged them to take advantage of and seek out opportunities to learn and network at the conference. In a post-workshop survey, participants said they felt welcomed and supported by the AI community as a whole and enjoyed the opportunity to build their own communities and networks within it.

On the first formal day of the conference, the participants attended a lunch (sponsored, in large part, by the AI Journal) to which all women at AAAI had been invited. This significantly broadened their exposure to members of the AI community. Participants and mentors felt that this helped reinforce the sense of cohesion and community and enjoyed lively discussions during the meal.

On the final day of the conference, the participants gathered for a breakfast, sharing new insights they had gained at the conference and providing feedback to the organizers.

Building a Career

Many factors contribute to the success of a research student or post doc. (1) The student needs to understand previous research as well as current research to contextualize her/his work. (2) S/he needs to develop an independent research project. This requires a creative mind; it also requires the opportunity to get feedback and suggestions not just from the student’s advisor but from others in the field. (3) The student needs to build a network. (4) The student needs to build confidence in her/his abilities to ask questions, to explain her/his research ideas and problems and to contribute to the field.

The AAAI-14 Discipline Specific Workshop was designed to provide elements in all of these areas. As one student said in a post-workshop survey, s/he would not have attended AAAI without the support of the workshop. Thus the impact the workshop had on enabling students to attend the conference was critical, giving them the opportunity to learn about cutting-edge research, talk to the researchers doing the work, and get feedback on their own research from the workshop mentors as well as from other conference attendees. As another participant said after the conference, “[the] mentoring session was by far the highlight, and I’d love to repeat that.” Finally, the workshop gave students the opportunity to network with the wider AI community. As one participant noted, “Contacts that I established may be useful in helping me find a position in academia.”

Lessons Learned

Overall, participants who answered the survey question “Would you recommend this workshop to others?” unanimously said they would, but they also had suggestions to make the workshop even better. As organizers of the workshop, we hope that our own experience, together with the participants’ feedback, can serve to provide others with a starting point for running similar “broadening participation” workshops.

If co-located with a conference, hold the first workshop session before the conference’s official start. For some participants, this will be their first time at a research conference. They might be intimidated or simply not know anyone in the community. The workshop, then, is a perfect setting for participants to begin networking and also to get advice on how to get the most out of the conference.

If possible, arrange small group mentoring sessions. Some students who are new to a research area may be intimidated to discuss their work. Small group sessions give students the support of other students in the group, while being intimate enough to encourage discussion. Match the research interests of the mentors directly to the research interests of the students for maximum mutual benefit.

If co-located with a conference, spread the workshop sessions over the duration of the conference. Periodic “check-in” with participants allows them to re-connect with each other and to address questions they may be accumulating over the course of the conference.

Remember that there are distinct stages in the lives of research students and post-docs. The progression from new student through Ph.D. through post-doc is a long one. Advice that is valuable to students early in their careers isn’t the same as the advice that’s valuable later on. Aim to address broad topics in large-group settings and more narrow topics in small-group discussions.

Support for Discipline Specific Workshops

To learn more about the CRA-W/CDC Discipline Specific Workshop program, including how to apply for funding, go to:
http://cra-w.org/ArticleDetails/tabid/77/ArticleID/52/Discipline-specific-Mentoring-Workshops-DSW.aspx

About the authors:

Andrea Danyluk, Maria Gini, Adele Howe, and Monica Anderson are professors of Computer Science at Williams College, the University of Minnesota, Colorado State University, and the University of Alabama, respectively. Their research interests are in Artificial Intelligence. Andrea Danyluk and Maria Gini are members of CRA-W. Monica Anderson is a member of CDC.

Computer Science Education Week

By CRA

The sixth annual Computer Science Education WeekCSEdWeek for short — is just around the corner! Endorsed by Congress as December 8-14, 2014, in recognition of Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper’s birthday (Dec. 9th, 1906) and her many contributions to the field of computer science, CSEdWeek is “a call to action to raise awareness of computer science education and computing careers for students, educators, and the public.”

There are numerous events and activities planned throughout the nation to illustrate how computer science education is essential for all students. It exposes them to critical thinking and problem solving, provides an understanding of computational thinking necessary for success in the digital era, and prepares them to attack the world’s most challenging problems from a computational perspective.

Help us spread the word about CSEdWeek — and computer science education and computing careers more generally:

  • Join the Hour of Code: Engage students of all ages in coding.
  • Create an event for your students and share it on the CS Ed Week Events page to inspire others.
  • Spread the word about computing careers: Visit a school, class or youth group to talk about your career in computing and opportunities in the field; see the guide to youth outreach for technical professionals for some pointers.
  • Host a company tour or have a student shadow you in your job for a day: Share information about your educational and career path, computing career rewards, and how technology is changing the world through your work.
  • Advocate for quality computer science education: Visit your local school board, superintendent, or principal and urge rigorous, engaging computer science classes. Check out code.org and the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) for some talking points.
  • See Exploring Computer Science and AP CS Principles for information on two exciting new high school courses that are scaling nationwide.
  • Contact other groups in your community that reach kids and help them set up computing activities too. See additional resources at CS Ed Week Teacher Resources.

And easiest of all, simply express your support for CSEdWeek by joining the twitter conversation (#CSEdWeek) to make others aware of the importance of Computer Science Education for all students.

CCC Uncertainty in Computation Workshop

By CCC Blog

The Computing Community Consortium’s (CCC) Uncertainty in Computation Visioning Workshop was held in Washington DC in mid October, led by Bill Thompson and Ross Whitaker from the University of Utah. The workshop brought together over 40 scientists from different disciplines including simulation and data science, engineering, statistics, applied mathematics, visualization, decision science and psychology. The overarching goal of the workshop was to open a discussion between experts with diverse scientific backgrounds about the topic of uncertainty/risk and its communication. The attendees worked to articulate grand research challenges in understanding and communicating uncertainty inherent in computational processes -- as an integral part of various scientific disciplines.

Read the full post at the CCC Blog.

CCC Updates - November 2014

By CCC Staff

The Computing Community Consortium (CCC) has had a very active fall with two workshops held so far followed by a successful CCC OSTP community conference call.

  • The September 10-11 Aging in Place Workshop, co-organized with NIH, received a number of positive responses from the community. One participant shared the following:
    • “I wanted to take this time to thank you for the opportunity to participate in what I considered an experience of a lifetime... Having a chance to hear and see the innovations and technology that have been tried, considered and continue to be developed for maintaining seniors was awe inspiring.”
       
  • The October 15-16 Uncertainty in Computation workshop included participants from the government, industry, and academia with diverse backgrounds in computing, climate, statistics, and decision science. The breadth of background and expertise made for extremely interesting discussions and breakout groups around questions such as “What are appropriate models for uncertainty?,” “How is information about uncertainty best communicated?” and “What are recent disruptors that are creating new challenges and opportunities for uncertainty modeling and decision-making?”
     
  •  On October 13, CCC Chair Greg Hager hosted a call that featured Office of Science and Technology Policy staff Randy Bryant and Tom Kalil. Tom and Randy gave a brief overview of ongoing computer science related activities and described agency activities in many areas including cyberphysical systems, privacy, and high performance computing. The call included an extended Q&A with department chairs from around the country.

The fall continues with the CCC BRAIN workshop on December 4-5 in Washington, DC. For more information about BRAIN, please visit our website or contact Ann Drobnis (adrobnis@cra.org). As a reminder, the CCC continues to invite proposals for more visioning workshops that will catalyze and enable innovative research at the frontiers of computing. If you have any questions please refer to the website.

Center for Evaluating the Research Pipeline Infographic November 2014

By Jane Stout, CERP Director

 Undergraduate students report plans for after graduation

 

During the spring semester of 2014, we asked a sample of undergraduate students who were graduating/had graduated during the 2013-2014 academic year about their plans for the after graduation. 84% of students planned to continue pursuing computing in some capacity. The vast majority of students (62%) had plans to work in a computing field right after college. Of the full sample, only 9% planned to pursue a PhD in the field of computing.

Notes on the sample: Total N = 384. Students were graduating from the following distribution of Institution Types: 64% PhD granting; 16% Terminal M.S. granting and B.S. granting; 17% B.S. granting only; 3% missing information. The Gender distribution of the sample was as follows: 27% women; 72% men; 1% no response. The Race composition of the sample was as follows: 21% Asian; 4% African American/Black; 5% Hispanic/Latina/o; 8% Mixed Race; 57% White; 5% Other/No Response. Students’ Citizenship status was as follows: 89% U.S. citizen; 2% permanent residents; 7% non-citizens with temporary visa; 2% missing information.

These data are brought to you by the CRA’s Center for Evaluating the Research Pipeline (CERP). CERP provides social science research and comparative evaluation for the computing community. To learn more about CERP, visit our website at http://cra.org/cerp/.

Exciting Events at the 2014 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing

By A.J. Brush, Microsoft Research, CRA-W Co-Chair

The 2014 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, held in Phoenix from Oct. 8th – 10th, hit several milestones this year. First, conference attendance dramatically increased to 8000 attendees from 4700 in 2013. Also, the first-ever Male Allies plenary panel, with top executives from Google, Facebook, GoDaddy, and Intuit, occurred; this panel was a well-intentioned session, but created more controversy among the attendees than the Grace Hopper Conference attendees have ever seen. And with a remark during his keynote, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella made the issue of pay equality for men and women front page news and brought the conference to the attention of the world. These milestones led to several interesting hallway conversations, some of which verged on arguments with significantly different points of view. One thing was clear, however; most of the attendees (perhaps all) agree that we need men (and women) to solve the diversity challenges that exist. So kudos to Satya and the other top male executives for having the interest and courage to come to an event that is 95% female. And further kudos to the companies that are implementing changes in their organizations based on what transpired during this year’s Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing. Until women represent close to 50% of those in the computing industry, we need to continue these important conversations.

Another exciting event at the 2014 Grace Hopper Celebration was the debut of the Notable Women in Computing card deck. Created by Katy Dickinson, Jessica Dickinson Goodman, and CRA-W Board member Susan Rodger (Duke University) to help publicize the CRA-W and Anita Borg Institute project to write Wikipedia pages for Notable Women in Computing, you can now play your favorite card games while learning about notable women in computing. Purchase your card deck today!

Since 2009 CRA-W has helped provide career mentoring content for attendees interested in academic and industrial research at the undergraduate, graduate, early career, and mid-senior career levels. Designed to be “bite-sized” versions of our longer workshops, including the Grad Cohort Workshop and Career Mentoring Workshops, our programs at Grace Hopper allow us to reach hundreds of attendees with career advice and make them aware of the additional programs CRA-W offers.

The CRA-W mentoring sessions took place on the afternoon of Oct 8th. For undergraduates, CRA-W staffed tables in the Student Opportunity Lab on four different topics: Undergraduate Research Experience, What Happens in Graduate School, How to Get Accepted to Graduate School, and Master’s or Ph.D.? The Anita Borg Institute introduced the Student Opportunity Lab format in 2013 and continued it this year due to its popularity. The Lab is a large conference room with about 50 tables, each with different topics and 1-2 mentors. Short 20 minute sessions allow small groups of students to have interactive discussions with mentors at many different tables over the four-hour Student Opportunity Lab session. CRA-W Board member Andrea Danyluk (Williams College) coordinated our tables and recruited our 26 talented mentors. Mentors included graduate students who have participated in CRA-W programs previously, as well as speakers from our other sessions; the forum provides a fun way for more women to share their experiences with others. Table mentors frequently tell us that these small group interactions are one of their favorite parts of the Grace Hopper Celebration.

GHC 2014 CRA-W Speakers

 GHC 2014 CRA-W Speakers

The CRA-W track for Graduate Students focuses on helping attendees succeed in graduate school with three sessions: “Graduate School Survival Skills”, presented by Jamika Burge (Information Systems Worldwide) and Rachel Pottinger (University of British Columbia), “Building Your Professional Persona”, presented by Patty Lopez (Intel) and Jaime Teevan (Microsoft Research), and “Building Your Professional Network” presented by Elizabeth Bautista (Lawrence Berkeley National Lab) and Raquell Holmes (Boston University). These sessions are consistently popular at Grace Hopper, as illustrated by over 200 attendees in each session this year.

CRA-W sessions for Early Career Faculty began with “Finding Your Dream Job”, presented by Jaeyeon Jung (Microsoft Research) and Lana Yarosh (University of Minnesota). Gillian Hayes (UC-Irvine) and Susan Rodger (Duke University) then discussed “Starting, Managing and Growing Your Own Research Program.” Lastly, attendees learned about “Preparing for Promotion” from speakers Kathryn McKinley (Microsoft Research) and Dilma Da Silva (Texas A & M University). “Finding Your Dream Job” always attracts a crowd, and had the most attendees once again (well over 200 this year). CRA-W sessions for mid-senior level faculty started with a discussion of Successful Leadership by Lori Pollock (University of Delaware) and Kathryn McKinley (Microsoft Research). Deb Agarwal (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory) and Nancy Amato (Texas A & M University) then discussed “Managing Up”, and the day ended with an interactive session devoted to attendee-chosen Career Mentoring Topics organized by Susan Rodger (Duke University).

Notable Women in Computing Playing Cards – a Full House

Notable Women in Computing Playing Cards – a Full House

Other content organized by CRA-W Board members at this year’s Grace Hopper Celebration included a panel entitled “Prof or Prez: Choosing Your Panel” organized and moderated by Andrea Danyluk (Williams College) that highlighted the range of career possibilities for Senior Academics with four accomplished women panelists: Fran Berman (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute), Jan Cuny (National Science Foundation), Maria Klawe (Harvey Mudd College), and Mary Lou Soffa (University of Virginia). The “Visibility Everywhere: Building Web/Social Media Presence for Women in Computing” panel organized by Susan Rodger (Duke University) covered how to maintain your personal web presence and also covered the CRA-W and Anita Borg Institute project to write Wikipedia pages for Notable Women in Computing. Ruthe Farmer (NCWIT) moderated the panel; panelists included Susan Rodger (Duke University), Tracy Camp (Colorado School of Mines), Patty Lopez (Intel), and me. Lastly, several posters from the CRA-W Collaborative Research Experience for Undergraduates (CREU) program were presented in the Wednesday evening poster session.

Terrific CRA staff members Erik Russell, Ama Nyame-Mensah, and Heather Wright, with support from several CRA-W Board members, ensured our CRA-W booth in the very busy exhibition hall was always fully staffed. We kept busy answering questions and encouraging folks to participate in CRA-W programs. All in all, it was a busy and eventful conference. We look forward to Grace Hopper 2015 in Houston, Texas.

Slides from CRA-W sessions are available here. The ABI Grace Hopper wiki includes notes taken by attendees on many sessions.

About the author:

A.J. Brush is a Senior Research at Microsoft Research. Her research area is Human-Computer Interaction with a focus on Ubiquitous Computing and current obsession with Smart Homes. After four fun years of organizing the CRA-W workshops at Grace Hopper, in October 2014 she became Co-Chair of CRA-W with Nancy Amato (Texas A&M University).

That Was Then This is Now

25 Years Ago in CRN

By Betsy Bizot, CRA Director of Statistics and Evaluation

A quarter of a century ago, Computing Research News: The Quarterly Newsjournal of The Computing Research Board published its first two issues, Volume 1, No. 1 in Summer 1989 and Volume 1, No. 2 in Fall 1989. A look through the back issues provides some interesting contrasts in what’s changed and what hasn’t. This is the first of a series of occasional articles looking back at the hot topics in CRN 25 years ago.

In Summer and Fall 1989, as reported in CRN:

Leadership

The Computing Research Board (the predecessor organization of CRA) and ACM cosponsored a conference on Strategic Directions in Computing Research in October 1989. The objectives of the conference included building a consensus on computing research goals to legislators and funding agencies, setting priorities for research in various subfields, and publicizing the goals, importance, and impact of computing research. Attendees included academic computing researchers, industry and government lab managers, legislative staff, and government program managers. Research areas discussed were High Performance Architectures, Algorithms and Theory, Artificial Intelligence, Systems and Software, Neural Networks, and Technology to Support Computer-Based Collaboration. CRA continues to play this community building and leadership role. CRA’s Computing Community Consortium catalyzes the research community and enables the pursuit of innovative, high-impact research.

The Taulbee Survey reported that 744 PhDs were awarded in Computer Science and Computer Engineering in 1987-88, twice as many as five years previously. In 2012-13, the Taulbee Survey reported 1,991 PhDs in Computer Science, Computer Engineering, and Information.

Talent Development

Nancy Leveson provided input for an NSF advisory committee on women in computing research. She noted that the percentage of PhDs awarded to women had remained constant at about 10% since 1978. Two years later in 1991, along with Maria Klawe, Nancy helped establish CRA’s Committee on the Status of Women in Computing Research, which continues to encourage and support women in computing research. In 2012-13, 18% of PhDs in the field were awarded to women.

Policy

There was concern about the NSF budget should the U.S. Senate concur with a recently-passed funding bill in the U.S. House of Representatives. CRN readers were encouraged to contact their senators about the importance of funding for scientific research by phone or telegram. This may sound familiar, except for the telegram part.

The Computing Research Board’s Government Affairs Committee held its first meeting, with more than 25 people in attendance. Topics included the recently-announced Federal High Performance Computing Program. CRA’s Government Affairs Committee is still extremely active in helping shape public policy relevant to computing research.

Our Organization

The Computing Research Board moved out of an office in the IEEE Computer Society building into its own space. This allowed room for the expansion of staff from 2 (the Executive Director and the Administrative Assistant) to 5 (adding a Newsletter Editor, a Government Affairs Director, and a Secretary/Receptionist). Apple Computer donated four Macintosh computers and several Laserwriters to the new office, to be used for correspondence, the maintenance of membership and accounting records, and desktop publishing for CRN. In fall 2014, CRA has expanded to a staff of 13, and the IT infrastructure is considerably more complex.

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