Published: May 2010,  Issue: Vol. 22/No.3, Download as PDF

Archive of articles published in the May 2010, Vol. 22/No.3 issue.

The STARS Alliance: A Viable Approach to Broadening Participation in Computing

The STARS Alliance is a consortium of regional partnerships among 20 colleges and universities and more than 80 regional partners in academia, education, business and community organizations, with a mission to broaden participation in computing. The flagship initiative of the Alliance is the STARS Leadership Corps (SLC), a multi-year curricular or cocurricular experience for computing students based on the STARS core values of civic engagement and service, leadership, technical excellence, and community.

Successful Start for Inaugural Computing Innovation Fellows

Last fall, 60 recent Ph.D. graduates were awarded Computing Innovation Fellowships supporting postdoctoral positions at research institutions throughout the country. This first-ever initiative coordinated by the computing research community was funded by the National Science Foundation and sought to retain new Ph.D.s in research and teaching during difficult economic times, as well as to support intellectual renewal and diversity in computing at U.S. organizations.

Dangers of Rankings with Inaccurate Data

Our culture is embedded with rankings: of movies, of college athletic teams, of consumer products, of universities, and of graduate programs. Rankings are a guilty pleasure—we claim they don’t influence us, and we know their foibles, yet we can’t help looking to see where we stand. Academics understand the problems behind reputational rankings such as the US News and World Report’s ranking of universities, of graduate and undergraduate programs, and of specialties within a field: they are largely subjective and influenced by non-scientific factors, they have long time-constants and are subject to hysteresis, and they at best reflect an overall assessment of a program without acknowledging exceptional elements. Yet we also know that rankings are used by prospective students, by university administrators allocating limited resources between units, and by sponsors.