This article is published in the September 2016 issue.

New Videos Encourage Undergraduates to Pursue Advanced Education in Computing

Choosing a PhDThe Computing Research Association (CRA) and its education committee (CRA-E) are excited to announce the creation of five short videos entitled “Choosing a PhD in Computer Science.” These videos were designed in conjunction with award-winning producer Patrick Sammon (co-producer of “Codebreaker”) to explain the benefits of pursuing a PhD in CS.  The videos showcase young researchers with PhDs who are now working in industry as they talk about what compelled them to pursue a doctorate and how they are using their advanced training in their work.  While many undergraduates understand that a PhD is needed for a position in academia, these videos demonstrate how a PhD can be useful in industry as well.

The health of the U.S. research pipeline in CS is vitally important.  While undergraduate enrollments are booming, the relatively low graduate enrollments of domestic students are a cause for concern for our universities, companies, national labs and, ultimately, for society.  We’ve found that undergraduates often have a very limited view of computing research and graduate school.

So, we’re writing to ask that you help disseminate these videos to your students and colleagues.  Here are some ways that you can help:

  1. Post links to these videos ( on your department’s website and pages specifically for undergraduate advising
  2. Send out a note to undergraduates, faculty, and undergraduate advisors about these videos
  3. Show one or more of these videos in a class and encourage your colleagues to do the same; each video is about research in a specific subdiscipline (e.g., machine learning, security, robotics, bioinformatics)

Thank you for your help in distributing the videos!  We also want to thank the featured researchers for taking the time to participate and their employers (Google, PARC, MetaMind, and Cytobank) for their enthusiastic support for this project.

We hope to produce additional videos in the future and expand beyond the bay area (where this group of videos was filmed in order to stay within budget) and to a broader set of companies and labs.  Please feel free to provide us with feedback and suggestions (