This article is published in the October 2023 issue.

CRA-E Rolls Out New Site to Help Students Understand Pathways into Computing Research

By Julia Sepulveda Avalos (Program Associate, CRA-E), Kelly Shaw (CRA-E Co-Chair), Lori Pollock (CRA-E Co-Chair), Janet Davis (CRA-E Board), Steven Swanson (CRA-E Board), and Amy Ko (CRA-E Board)

The Computing Research Association’s Education Committee (CRA-E) recently launched a new website: Student Pathways into Research in Computing (SPARC)

The SPARC website is a resource for people who are exploring computing research opportunities, considering graduate study in computing, or mentoring nascent researchers. The website is geared to support individuals at multiple career stages, including: undergraduate and graduate students, professionals considering graduate study, and faculty advisors.

For current students and professionals considering a return to academic study, SPARC provides critical context about computing research, detailed information about graduate study, and concrete examples of research experiences. The site features information about what research is and practical suggestions for getting involved in research. It also covers different pathways and career opportunities within the computing research field. SPARC contains detailed information about MS and PhD programs, including descriptions of expectations and outcomes for different types of programs and concrete advice for drafting graduate school application materials. The site also features a “Stories” section that highlights contributions undergraduate students have made to the field, and how their research experiences shaped their career aspirations; this section intends to inspire prospective researchers. 

For individuals advising student researchers, SPARC provides advice on recruiting and incorporating student researchers into a research group. There is detailed information about how to effectively mentor student researchers through the various aspects of the research process and practical strategies for guiding new researchers according to their career goals.

The mission of CRA-E is to address society’s need for a continuous supply of talented and well-educated computing researchers. To this end, CRA-E will continue to build and maintain the SPARC website, so that it can serve as a resource for people interested in referencing up-to-date information about the computing research field and opportunities within the computing research community.

The content on the SPARC website is the result of a collaborative effort. It was made possible through the support of many computing researchers and scholars, including, but not limited to: Amy J. Ko, Janet Davis, Victoria Innerante, Ran Libeskind-Hadas, Susanne Hambrusch, Borja Sotomayor, Kelly Shaw, Keith Feldman, Max Grossman, and Eric Aaron. Should you have any questions, suggestions, or concerns about the material on the site, please contact the CRA-E Co-Chairs.