Published: March 2016, Issue: Vol. 28/No.3, Download as PDF

Archive of articles published in the March 2016, Vol. 28/No.3 issue.


Fred Schneider Receives Service to CRA Award

The Computing Research Association (CRA) is pleased to honor Fred Schneider, the Samuel B. Eckert Professor and Chair of Computer Science at Cornell University, with a Service to CRA Award for his work with the organization. Fred was a member of the CRA Board from 2007 to 2016, during which time he thought deeply about how to have positive impact on the computing research community and spearheaded several key initiatives.

Introducing the CRA-E Undergraduate Research Faculty Mentoring Award Winners

The Education Committee of the Computing Research Association (CRA-E) is proud to announce three winners of the inaugural CRA-E Undergraduate Research Faculty Mentoring Award. Congratulations to the 2016 award recipients: Pieter Abbeel, from the University of California, Berkeley; Marie desJardins, from the University of Maryland Baltimore County; and Judy Goldsmith from the University of Kentucky. These outstanding individuals are recognized for providing exceptional mentorship, undergraduate research experiences, and, in parallel, guidance on admission and matriculation of these students to research-focused graduate programs in computing. The 2016 selection committee included Nancy Amato (Texas A&M University, committee chair); Eric Aaron (Vassar College); Pat Morreale (Kean University); and Barbara Ryder (Virginia Tech). This year’s awards will be presented at the 2016 CRA Conference at Snowbird.

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2016 CRA Board Election Results

CRA members have elected four new members to its board of directors: Penny Rheingans, Shashi Shekhar, Josep Torrellas, and Min Wang. Current board members Chris Johnson and Ron Brachman were re-elected to the CRA board. Their terms run from July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2019. Retiring from the board as of June 30, 2016 are Tracy Camp, Ann Condon, Laura Haas, and Fred Schneider. CRA thanks them all for contributions during their service on the board.

Sneak Preview: 2015 Taulbee Report Details

The 2015 Taulbee Report will be published in the May 2016 issue of CRN. As we have done for the past several years, we are providing a preview of the degree and enrollment numbers for bachelor’s and doctoral level programs in the departments responding to the survey.

The total number of Ph.D.s awarded declined by 8.2 percent, from 1,940 from the departments responding in 2014 to 1,780 from the departments responding in 2015. Since the set of departments reporting from one year to the next varies, for understanding enrollment trends it is of interest to focus on the set of departments that reported in both years.

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Women More Likely Than Men to Leave Intro CS Courses Due to Teaching Style and Rigor

CERP recently collected data from Intro CS students as part of the “booming enrollments” research underway at the CRA. Within this dataset, a sample of undergraduate students (N = 50) who had recently dropped an Intro CS course reported their reasons for doing so. Women were significantly more likely than men to report they did not enjoy their Intro CS professor’s teaching style, and that the course content was too challenging, p < .05. These findings suggest that the “weed out” technique in Intro CS may have a more negative impact on women than men, and that the current “boom,” if left unchecked, has the potential to impair diversity efforts in CS.

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Expanding the Pipeline – Building Recruiting and Inclusion for Diversity (BRAID): Emerging Research on Diversifying the CS Major

In August 2014, Maria Klawe, President of Harvey Mudd College (HMC), and Telle Whitney, President of the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology (ABI), jointly established Building Recruiting and Inclusion for Diversity (BRAID). The BRAID initiative, with support from Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Intel, involves 15 computer science departments across the U.S. that are committed to implementing changes to their introductory computer science courses, pathways into the major, departmental climate, and outreach efforts in hopes of increasing the recruitment and retention of women and underrepresented minority (URM) students in the computer science major.

President’s FY 2017 Budget Request: A Disappointment for Computer Science

On February 9, President Obama released his final Budget Request to Congress, a $4.1 trillion request for fiscal year 2017 (FY17) that some in the science community have called “aspirational,” which might be a nice way of saying disappointingly unrealistic.

Before getting into details, it’s worth pointing out that the president has been a tremendous champion for federal investments in science throughout his two terms. His administration has launched a large number of new initiatives on brain science, big data, robotics, clean energy, advanced manufacturing, strategic computing, cybersecurity, smart communities, and more that have brought new funding and new energy to federally supported science.

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Highlights of the President’s FY2017 Budget Request for CISE

On February 9, 2016, President Obama delivered his Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 Budget Request to Congress. The Request includes approximately $8 billion for NSF and $995 million for the CISE directorate – an increase of approximately $59 million or 6.3 percent above the FY 2015 Estimate for CISE.

The CISE request includes $938 million in discretionary funding, plus $56 million in new mandatory funding. This means that for FY 2017, the Administration will be seeking legislation to provide mandatory funding for NSF on a one-time basis. The purpose of this mandatory funding is to sustain the Administration’s prioritization of research and development (For more information, read the President’s budget message as well as the White House Fact Sheet for the President’s FY 2017 Budget).