Published: November 2006,  Issue: Vol. 18/No.5, Download as PDF

Archive of articles published in the November 2006, Vol. 18/No.5 issue.

NSF Selects CRA to Create Computing Community Consortium:

The National Science Foundation announced on September 18 an agreement with the Computing Research Association (CRA) to establish a consortium of computing experts that will provide scientific leadership and vision on issues related to computing research and future large-scale computing research projects. Under the three-year, $6 million agreement, CRA will create the Computing Community Consortium (CCC) to identify major research opportunities and establish “grand challenges” for the field. The CCC will create venues for community participation for developing visions and creating new research activities.

A Clarion Call within the Cacophony

Like many of you, I serve on a multiplicity of U.S. and international panels that offer advice and suggestions on science policy and computing. Indeed, there are times when it feels as if we are a proximate cause of deforestation, due to the number of voluminous reports we produce. The good ones are even read and have influence— sometimes! Recently, during the question-and-answer period for one of these panels, a U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) examiner noted that rarely do people come to Washington to plead, “I’m dumb, and I have too much federal money. Can you help me?” The comment generated a healthy laugh and knowing nods, but the OMB examiner was making a serious point.

Congress Delays Appropriations, Creating Uncertainty for Science Increases

Congress will reconvene in mid-November in a post-election session to finish work on a slate of appropriations bills—including bills that would fully fund the basic research elements of President Bush’s “American Competitiveness Initiative”—that they failed to finish by the traditional end of the legislative session in early October. Less clear is whether any of the authorization bills drafted to boost U.S. competitiveness will receive floor time before the 109th Congress adjourns for good. Congress did complete work on the mammoth FY 2007 Defense Appropriations bill before recessing in late September. Included in the bill were healthy increases to defense research and development, and some reductions to requested budgets for defense IT research.

Moving Forward Strategically

I want to alert you to a major educational effort we have just announced and update you on continuing progress on the GENI Project. The pervasive impact of computing technology in our lives and throughout the global economy is indisputable, and it is clear that the U.S. workforce—most especially computing professionals of all types and at all levels—must be prepared to play a leading role in the technology-based economy of the 21st century. At the same time, enrollments are down significantly, full representation of the U.S. population is not reflected in our matriculated students, and our major computing industries are increasingly concerned about the quality of the computing education that we are providing.

U.S. Computer Science Delegation Visits China

In the spring of 2006, an NSF-sponsored delegation of CS scientists (mostly School Deans and Department Chairs) visited various CS research centers and departments in China and met with peers. The purpose of the visit was to improve our knowledge of CS research in China and to establish a dialogue with our peers. The trip included visits to: Beijing—IBM China Research Lab, Microsoft Research Asia, Institute for Computing Technology (ICT, an institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences), Peking University, and Tsinghua University; Nanjing—Southeast University and Nanjing University; Xi’an—Northwestern Polytechnic University and Xi’an Jiaotong University; Shanghai—Shanghai Jiaotong University; and Suzhou—Suzhou University. In addition, a one-day U.S.-China Computer Science Leadership Summit, held at Beihang University in Beijing, provided an opportunity to discuss issues of common interest.

Good Service: A Surprising Secret to Academic Success

Conventional wisdom is that service runs a distant third to research and teaching in academia. It is certainly sound advice for larval professors. If it applies to senior faculty as well, then only idealists would volunteer to serve, for example, on a National Research Council study panel, on the CRA Board, on a professional society leadership council, or in a government funding agency. Hence, when I congratulated Janie Irwin for winning the CRA Distinguished Service Award last spring, I was applauding her unselfish spirit. I was surprised to learn it was her fourth award that year, as CRA’s DSA was also my fourth award in 2006.1 It struck me as odd that in our 30-year careers we would win eight awards simultaneously. Although we both have good reputations in research and teaching, our service records were likely the most distinguished (so to speak) from many faculty. Could conventional wisdom be wrong? Could good service actually help a career and the lack of good service impair an otherwise successful career?

BLS Projects Strong Growth in IT Professions

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that the professional-level IT workforce will grow at more than twice the rate of the overall workforce between 2004 and 2014, and account for 1 in 19 new jobs. In addition, many of these jobs should pay well. Every two years, BLS releases workforce projections covering a 10-year period. The definition for the ‘professional IT workforce’ adopted here is that used by the Department of Commerce’s Office of Technology Policy. This adds two occupations to the 10 listed under the “Computer specialists” category (15-0000 through 15-1099) in the BLS tables: Computer and information system managers (11-3021) and Computer hardware engineers (17-2061).

Research With Impact: The Computer Science Research Institute at Sandia National Laboratories

The Computer Science Research Institute (CSRI) at Sandia National Laboratories brings together researchers from universities, industry and the national laboratories to conduct leading-edge research in computer science, computational science and mathematics to provide new capabilities in modeling and simulation, and to apply this capability for our nation’s security. The CSRI is funded by DOE’s Advanced Simulation and Computing (ASC) program and is a key part of this program’s engagement with a broad research community.

CRA-W/CDC Launch Discipline-Specific Mentoring Programs with Computer Architecture Summer Workshop

On July 19-21, 2006, CRA-W and CDC jointly offered a summer school workshop on Computer Architecture at Princeton University in Princeton, NJ. The workshop was supported by funding from the National Science Foundation’s program on Broadening Participation in Computing (BPC), as well as generous donations from Intel Corp, IBM Research, and ACM SIGARCH (ACM’s Special Interest Group on Computer Architecture). This funding supported the participation of more than 40 attendees, including undergraduates, master’s students, Ph.D. students, research faculty, and lecturers—all interested in computer architecture. In addition, we were able to support the travel costs of the roughly 20 panelists—leading computer systems researchers from academia, industry, and government—who participated in the workshop discussions and presentations.