This article is published in the November 2013 issue.

Ph.D. Computer Scientist is a Can’t Miss Science Career

Recently, ScienceCareers named “Three Can’t Miss Science Careers,” and Ph.D. computer scientist was on the list along with geoscientist, and physician scientist.

According to the article, “Despite frequently made claims in the national news media, and from university and industry officials, the job market for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics professionals as a whole is not booming. A decade of flat funding by federal agencies, declines in in-house research programs in industry, and an academic research culture that relies upon an ever-increasing number of trainees to execute research have flooded the market with highly trained scientists competing for few permanent positions that would utilize their skills.

There are, however, a few bright spots among the gloom, fields in which a degree virtually guarantees solid career prospects. ScienceCareers identified three such fields and explored recent hiring and salary trends.”

The articled pointed to CRA’s Taulbee survey, which revealed an unemployment rate of 0.4% for recent computer science Ph.D.s. The article also acknowledged that there has been a steady rise in the ratio of postdocs to faculty hires, a worrisome trend.

“As pointed out in a February article in Communications of the ACM [Association for Computing Machinery], in 2003, more than twice as many recent Ph.D.s took tenure-track faculty positions as took postdocs. In 2012 that ratio was reversed.”

BPCRA and CCC have taken steps to address the community issue. In December 2012, CRA’s Board of Directors approved a Best Practices Guide, providing guidance to graduate students, postdocs, advisors and mentors, and departments and institutions on how to have a positive postdoctoral experience within computer science and engineering. With NSF’s backing, the CCC has announced its Postdoc Best Practices program to develop, implement and institutionalize the implementation of best practices for supporting postdocs. This program will award grants to institutions or consortia of institutions to implement best practices for strengthening the postdoc experience in computer science and computing-related fields.  These supporting programs will enable PhD graduates to transition effectively to research roles in a variety of sectors.

Previously, NSF and CCC created the Computing Innovation Fellows program to fund postdocs for the duration of the economic crisis in order to assure that graduating PhDs could remain in the computing research enterprise at a time when many fewer research positions were available.  This new grant program is another effort to advance postdocs and their contributions to the research enterprise.

The Full Request for Proposals can be found hereProposals can be submitted here through Friday, November, 15, 2013.