In July I had the opportunity to travel to Spain to attend and present at two research venues. The first event was the 19th International Conference on User Modeling, Adaptation, and Personalization (UMAP), which took place in Girona, a charming and beautiful old city in Costa Brava, Catalonia.
Computing Research News
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In a speech on U.S. innovation and competitiveness at Carnegie Mellon University in late June1, President Obama announced a new initiative with investments up to $50 million for major advances in next-generation robotics, called the National Robotics Initiative (NRI; http://www.nsf.gov/NRI). The National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE), together with the Directorates for Engineering; Education and Human Resources; and Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences, will play a leading role in this cross-agency program that also includes the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
The goal of the Tapia conferences is to bring together undergraduate and graduate students, professionals, and faculty in CS&E from all backgrounds and ethnicities to: 1) Celebrate the diversity that currently exists in CS&E; 2) Create communities of CS&E people with diverse backgrounds, genders, and ethnicities that extend beyond the conference; 3) Receive advice from and make useful contacts with CS&E leaders in academia and industry; and 4) Be inspired by great presentations and conversations with successful people in CS&E who have similar backgrounds, ethnicities, and gender as the attendees.
Formed in 2007, the IT History Society is dedicated to informing IT companies about the value in preserving their history, helping archivists to be more effective in their work in preserving IT history and, most importantly, being a reference point for the many international places of computing history information.
Entering the workforce following the support and protection of graduate school can be challenging. These challenges were compounded by a difficult economy with limited prospects for research and academic positions in 2009.
During his presentation at the CIFellows Research Meeting & Career Mentoring Workshop in December1, Microsoft’s Peter Lee shared his motivations for creating the program. Beyond giving recent PhDs an opportunity to remain in academia during a time when obtaining an academic job is more difficult than usual, he saw the program as a way to “create a cadre of highly independent computing researchers.”
The recent National Academies report, “The Future of Computing Performance: Game Over or Next Level?” lays out several broad landscape changes computing researchers must address to sustain growth in system performance. Indeed, we hear about little else in the parade of articles, op-eds, and conference sessions these days. Opinions vary from “We solved this 30 years ago” to “It will all blow over” to “The sky is falling.” For the computing community at large, this is clearly a significant challenge.
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…
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?
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.
To bring a fresh perspective, the founders of the Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity Conference chose a General Chair for the 10-year anniversary who had never attended the conference. When Richard Tapia himself called, it was such an interesting opportunity that I couldn’t decline. After highlighting the program – to be held April 3-5 in San Francisco – I’ll explain the process that led to it.