CIFellows 2020 For the Record

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Appendix F: Proposal Supplement

Introduction and Motivation

The Computing Research Association (CRA) and Computing Community Consortium (CCC) have recently launched the Computing Innovation Fellows (CIFellows) 2020 Program to provide a career-enhancing bridge experience for recent and soon-to-be PhD graduates in computing, especially those who have been impacted in the disrupted academic job market due to COVID-19.  

The program, as outlined in the original proposal, is intended to cover researchers under the entire CISE umbrella.  It has always been our full intention to include researchers who focus on computing education and broadening participation in computing. We understand that sometimes these researchers do not see themselves as being included in computing research activities, such as CIFellows 2020 fellowships and cohort-building activities. We firmly support the notion that such researchers are critical to both the computing research community and society.  

The anticipated demand for fellowships is strong and greatly exceeds the currently available funding. With the original funding, we are cognizant of the need to fund fellows spanning the broad portfolio of CISE, and we would be unlikely to be able to fund significant cohorts in any specific area. This supplement request will enable us to fund additional CIFellows with a special focus on those actively engaged in, or intending to be engaged in, efforts in computing education and/or broadening participation in computing.    

Topics within the Education and Workforce (EWF) community are sometimes not viewed as within the mainstream of disciplinary computing research and are not reviewed as favorably as other topics. This view is both incorrect and unfortunate. Consequently these researchers may be reluctant to engage in broad-based computing competitions, as they view the likelihood for success as highly limited.

A major focus of our supplemental activities will be to enhance our efforts to combat both of these perceptions. We intend to combat the second issue in a number of ways. CRA has contacts across a wide range of relevant institutions, including minority-serving and primarily undergraduate, through its many programs. For example, we had targeted a list of such institutions for invitation to the biennial Conference at Snowbird (which will now be virtual) and will use this list to emphasize the value of engaging in CIFellows 2020. We will place a strong senior computing education researcher with a focus in this space on the Selection Committee and charge the committee with proactively engaging on these topics. We will work with this committee member, and others in the community, to proactively advertise the program and ensure that potential applicants know that their participation is welcome and strongly encouraged. We will call out this area specifically on the website; the only such CISE area called out.

We will combat the first issue by ensuring that our review process will call out elements of the application that specifically address issues of concern to EWF; for example, a discussion of intent to focus on broadening participation or the development of novel educational strategies. These callouts will be made part of the holistic review process. A similar process was used in the original CIFellows program but there they focused entirely on diversity metrics (gender, ethnic background, etc.) In CIFellows 2020, we will continue these diversity metrics but add new metrics focused on education and broadening participation.

Note that a focus of the entire CIFellows program has a strong emphasis on career development and cohort building. (These are clearly not mutually exclusive). Our strategies include regular virtual meetings of the fellows and an in-person workshop planned for the second year. These are opportunities that we will take advantage of to further emphasize education and broadening participation strategies and activities for all the fellows, regardless of their research focus. So all fellows will receive training and encouragement to engage in activities designed to broaden participation in computing, abilities which they will be able to use throughout their careers. In this way we will create a multiplier effect that will bolster our long-term goal of providing high-quality educational experiences for future generations of computing students from the fellows as they become faculty.

Justification for Supplement 

The supplemental funding in this request is to cover 10 CIFellowships per year for applicants in computing education and broadening participation, as well as those whose work situates them for unusual impact in these areas (e.g., at a minority-serving institution or at an institution whose primary mission is undergraduate education). Of course there remains the (hopefully small) possibility that the review process will not surface 10 quality applicants with a strong focus in the EWF space. If this does occur, we will not award all 10 fellowships but will retain the funds in order to engage in future relevant efforts; for example by extending the program for an additional year or some other relevant career development activity agreed upon with NSF program staff.


Supplement Budget

Budget Justification

Participant Support Costs:

Travel for the 10 additional CIFellows to attend the CIFellows workshop in Year 2 and for travel/subsistence as required by their Fellowship (conferences, visit to mentor, etc.)

Year 1 – $25,000

Year 2 – $34,500  

Other Direct Costs:

Subawards: Funding for each awardee will be via a subaward from CRA to the host institution. If the host institution permits post-doctoral fellows to be the PI, we will do so. Some institutions require that a PI be a tenure-track member of the faculty; for these cases, an alternative PI will be named by the host department. 

The cost of a single CIFellows award was derived from an examination of postdoctoral salaries at a variety of institutions with a modest salary premium as a fellowship program.  The anticipated cost is $130,950/year ($75,000 salary; $19,000 fringe; $3,000 institutional required computing fee; $33,950 institution indirect recovery at 35% – lower than the approved rates at any of the examined institutions).

We anticipate funding 10 postdoctoral fellowships in year 1 and year 2.  If a fellowship is terminated early (less than two full years), then the remaining funds will be used to fund additional fellowships.

The individual subaward recipients are not included here as the individual Fellows and their host institutions will not be known until after the review process. When reviews are complete, the individual Fellow subawards will be submitted to NSF for approval prior to issuance of the subaward.

CIFellows Career Development Workshop: In Year 2 of the award, we anticipate holding a workshop focused on enhancing the careers of the Fellows, similar to the one we organized for the first CIFellows and to those that are organized regularly by CRA and CRA-WP. Expenses are estimated based on those experiences. In accordance with NSF guidelines, the following workshop expenses are included under Direct Costs/Other.

Food provided by CRA during the workshop – $2,000

Audio-Visual – $2,000

Indirect Costs:

Per NSF policy, indirect costs are computed on the basis of allowable direct costs (salary, fringe benefits. Staff travel, other direct costs), plus the first $25,000 of each subaward.  The rate of 39.27% was predetermined by NSF for CRA’s current FY2020 fiscal year.