Published: September 2006,  Issue: Vol. 18/No.4, Download as PDF

Archive of articles published in the September 2006, Vol. 18/No.4 issue.

Congress on Track to Provide Big Boost to Physical Sciences, Computing

Before adjourning for the traditional August congressional recess, appropriators in the House and Senate approved a collection of funding measures that would significantly increase funding for federal research efforts in the physical sciences, mathematics, computing and engineering next year. Both chambers’ appropriation committees have passed FY 2007 appropriations bills that provide boosts to the research budgets of the National Science Foundation, National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, effectively endorsing—at least in the short term—a Presidential initiative to double research funding for those agencies over the next 10 years.

Argonne National Lab Celebrates 60th Anniversary

This is another in a series of CRN articles describing the activities of CRA’s industry laboratory members. Others are posted at: Argonne National Laboratory is a direct descendant of the Manhattan Project where Enrico Fermi and his colleagues created the world’s first controlled nuclear chain reaction.

Systers: The Electronic Community for Women in Computing

Almost 20 years ago, in 1987, seven women met at SOSP (Symposium on Operating Systems Principles). As the only women at the conference they all felt like outsiders, so they banded together to be less isolated. At a dinner meeting, they discovered that they had many experiences in common. Anita Borg, one of those original seven, offered to host a mailing list for the group to continue their interactions. The name chosen for the group was “systers,” a wordplay on sisters and systems. As the systers list approaches its twentieth anniversary, it seems timely to reflect on its history and its current goals.

Education: Research by Another Name

By the time you hold this issue of CRN in your hands, the fall semester will be well underway. New students will be walking the hallways, revised course materials will be online and yes, that bane of all academics—committee meetings—will have returned. Hence, it seems appropriate to consider the continuum of research and education as we recommence our academic roles. I call it “the Tom Sawyer effect,” where Tom convinces a peer group that fence painting is a privilege. How many times have you lured students into research by calling it a class project?

Another Year, More Dollars

For the fifth—and probably last—year, it is my honor on behalf of the NSF and CISE to welcome you back after what I hope was a productive and relaxing summer. The coming year promises to be an important one for NSF and CISE, so in addition to commenting briefly on the year past I want to highlight some issues for the coming year. I have received a number of comments—almost all positive—on my article in the May 2006 issue of CRN ( I’m very pleased that it struck a responsive chord, and even more pleased to report that we are making good progress on the Computing Community Consortium (described in the May issue of CRN) and GENI ( and

Sustained Fall in Share of Undergrad CS Degrees Granted to Women

Computer science has the dubious distinction of being the only science field to see a fall in the share of its bachelor’s degrees granted to women between 1983 and 2002. Among all S&E fields tracked by the NSF, linguistics was the only other discipline to see its share of women drop—but it is a field where the majority of degrees (71 percent) are granted to women.