This is another in a series of CRN articles describing the activities of CRA’s industry laboratory members. Others are posted at: http://www.cra.org/reports/labs Argonne National Laboratory is a direct descendant of the Manhattan Project where Enrico Fermi and his colleagues created the world’s first controlled nuclear chain reaction.
Computing Research News
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Almost 20 years ago, in 1987, seven women met at SOSP (Symposium on Operating Systems Principles). As the only women at the conference they all felt like outsiders, so they banded together to be less isolated. At a dinner meeting, they discovered that they had many experiences in common. Anita Borg, one of those original seven, offered to host a mailing list for the group to continue their interactions. The name chosen for the group was “systers,” a wordplay on sisters and systems. As the systers list approaches its twentieth anniversary, it seems timely to reflect on its history and its current goals.
Last spring, three of my women friends compared life stories at our 20th college reunion. They had all chosen the academic path in mathematics and computer science. While seemingly successful, it turned out that each felt unsatisfied to some degree. The first had left her tenured position because she hated the atmosphere; a tenured position at another university requires a move, so she has settled for being an independent researcher and consultant. The second had an exhausting commute; she was pessimistically contemplating her options in finding work closer to home. The third was happy in her job at a prestigious department, but she had yet to get tenure; and, as the tenure-track rat race took precedence over her biological clock, she was still childless in her early forties.
A coalition of computing research companies and universities recently announced an agreement on ‘Open Collaboration’ principles designed to facilitate open source distribution of research results. The parties to the agreement intend this model to be used to handle intellectual property rights arising from certain software-related collaborations between the industrial and academic partners. It is hoped that the existence of this template for IP agreements will expedite sponsored research agreements.
Computer science at SRI International includes many firsts, from the first electronic banking system to invention of the computer mouse. SRI innovations have created new industries, billions of dollars in market value, and lasting benefits to society.
The University of Washington, Seattle hosted the first International Computing Education Research (ICER) workshop the first weekend of October 2005. Sponsored by ACM SIGCSE, the gathering drew nearly 60 participants from America, Europe, Asia, and Australia to present and discuss research on how people come to understand computing, and how to improve that understanding. The presentations addressed issues ranging from explaining why some students succeed in their first computing courses, to developing evaluation metrics for student programming environments, to considering how much paradigm or language really matter in teaching programming.
My morning routine is to stop in the office early and see what has come in during the night. Then, over yogurt, cranberry juice, and The New York Times, I let issues sift and settle. Afterwards I reverse my commute—all thirty-four steps of it—and return to my study. I am a Distinguished Engineer at Sun Microsystems and I work from home.
Gender differences in computer science tend to dissolve—that is, the spectrum of interests, motivation, and personality types of men and of women becomes more alike than different—as the computing environment becomes more balanced. This finding is emerging from our ongoing studies of the evolving culture of computing at Carnegie Mellon as our undergraduate computer science (CS) environment becomes more balanced in three critical domains: gender, the mix of students and breadth of their interests, and the professional experiences afforded all students.
On May 16, 2005, Richard Ladner, Boeing Professor of Computer Science & Engineering (CSE) at the University of Washington, was one of nine individuals to receive the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM) at a White House ceremony. Ladner, who is well known for his work in computer science theory, was recognized for his long-time support of women and people with disabilities in computer science.
The fact that women, minorities, and persons with disabilities remain significantly underrepresented in CISE-related disciplines diminishes us all in our research and education activities, to say nothing of our personal lives. NSF and CISE have long worked to change this situation, but we believe new and strengthened efforts are essential and we are now focusing our attention on doing that.