Published: March 2011,  Issue: Vol. 23/No.2, Download as PDF

Archive of articles published in the March 2011, Vol. 23/No.2 issue.

NSF-CCC Workshop Explores Sustainability & IT

About 60 leading researchers, program managers, and others gathered in Washington, DC, on February 3-4, 2011, to discuss new fundamental computing research opportunities that will arise as the nation and world seek long-term sustainable technologies and behaviors. This two-day meeting (, co-sponsored by NSF’s CISE Directorate and the Computing Community Consortium, sought to go beyond routine uses of information technology to identify high-risk, high-reward research directions in sustainability that, as yet, may not have received adequate attention or funding.

NCWIT Offers Community, Resources, and Results

How does your organization contribute to building a better future for and through computing? Are you having a broad positive impact? NCWIT can help with that. NCWIT, the National Center for Women & Information Technology, was founded in 2004 as a non-profit coalition of organizations that develops and amplifies efforts to diversify computing. NCWIT’s leadership team consists of the co-founders—Lucy Sanders, Robert Schnabel, and Telle Whitney—along with elected leaders and support staff from each of the NCWIT Alliances…

Capturing the Design Crowd

A few months ago I was talking to a group of freshmen who had just decided on their major. I asked them how they had made that decision. One young man told me that he had been torn between mechanical engineering versus electrical engineering and computer science. After a lot of careful thought, he had finally opted for mechanical. I told him that was a great major, but asked what had finally crystallized his decision. His response was that he was really excited about design, and thought that mechanical engineering was a better option. Out of curiosity, I asked him for his favorite example of a well-designed product; his response was to reach in his pocket and pull out his iPhone. Somewhat surprised, I asked him what he thought was inside the iPhone – a bunch of tiny gears?

Calling the Computing Research Community to Engage in a Conversation

Data from CRA’s annual Taulbee Survey document substantial growth in the cadre of U.S. and Canadian postdoctoral fellows over the past decade. Most recently, the Computing Community Consortium (CCC) and National Science Foundation (NSF) have funded one- to two-year postdoctoral positions through the Computing Innovation Fellows Project, in hopes of retaining recent PhDs in computing research and teaching during difficult economic times. We believe it is time for the community to understand the significance of this PostDoc surge, assessing whether it is the right course of action for the field in the long term.

Social Leadership: Empty Seats at the Table

I spend a good bit of time on airplanes, which has historically provided some respite from the unending deluge of electronic communications we all now face. Concomitantly, it provides the opportunity to think and write. Not too surprisingly, I am writing this column on an airplane. Why am I on airplanes you might ask? It’s definitely not an Up in the Air movie quest for an elusive and magical number of frequent flyer miles.

Endorsement Effort Announced for Proposed AP CS Principles Course

The College Board and the NSF-funded team building the new Advanced Placement test in computing seek endorsements of their effort beginning March 11, 2011. The proposed course, formally known as Computer Science Principles, resulted from a two-year effort to build a curriculum framework for concepts-rich computing class; it relied on wide community input. The course is rigorous, engaging and inspiring. As such, the team hopes to attract a broader, more diverse population of computing majors by exposing high school students to solid CS concepts. They also hope that teaching the course in college—perhaps as CS0—will attract community college and college students to the major as well.

President Proposes Science Increases in FY12 as Congress Proposes FY11 Cuts

President Barack Obama released his Administration’s fiscal year 2012 budget request in mid-February, stressing the need to increase funding for federal science agencies as a way of ensuring the U.S. can “out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build” the rest of the world. The President’s budget continues his commitment to double the funding for the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

CIFellows Descend on Washington

Nearly 80 Computing Innovation Fellows ( descended on Washing-ton, DC, in mid-December for the 2010 CIFellows Project Research Meeting and Career Mentoring Workshop ( Funded by the National Science Foundation and run by the Computing Research Association and Computing Community Con-sortium, this meeting provided the 2009 and 2010 CIFellows with opportunities to network with one another and to receive career advice from leading experts in the field.