2018 CRA Conference at Snowbird
The biennial CRA Conference at Snowbird is the flagship invitation-only conference for the leadership of the North American computing research community.
Invitees: Computer science, computer engineering, and information technology department chairs; assistant, associate, and prospective chairs; directors of graduate or undergraduate education; directors of industry or government research labs/centers; and professional society or government leaders in computing.
The conference site: The Snowbird Resort is located in the Wasatch Mountains about 30 miles from Salt Lake City. A top-rated ski resort in the winter, off-season at Snowbird offers hiking amidst beautiful scenery.
July 16, 2018 (Monday)
|03:00 PM||New Chairs Workshop
Co-chairs: Greg Hager, Johns Hopkins University, and Andrew Sears, Penn State
3:00 PM – Welcome and Overview (Andrew Sears and Greg Hager)
3:10 PM – “Creating a Strategy and Setting Goals” (Alex Wolf)
3:30 PM – “Creating a Strategy and Setting Goals” (Anupam Joshi)
3:50 PM – “A Chair’s Journey to the Red Planet: Surviving and Thriving in Higher-Ed Administration” (Leysia Palen)
4:10 PM – Breakout groups discussing approaches to prototypical problems faced by chairs
4:50 PM – Breakout feedback/discussion
5:15 PM – Q&A
5:45 PM – Workshop Adjourn
|06:00 PM||Welcome Reception|
|07:00 PM||Dinner/Awards Presentations/After Dinner Speech
Welcome from the Conference Chairs
CRA-E Faculty Mentoring Awards
July 17, 2018 (Tuesday)
|08:30 AM||Plenary Panel: Diversity in Leadership
Chair: Carla Brodley, Northeastern University
Much of the effort of the Conference at Snowbird community has focused on increasing the diversity of our students across all stages of the academic pipeline with some efforts post Ph.D. The focus of this panel of industry and academic experts is on the challenges and opportunities in retaining diverse employees. And further, on efforts to ensure leadership paths in industry and academia of diverse members of staff/faculty. In short, our focus will be on efforts to ensure that diversity does not stop at “bringing diversity in the door” – put another way, people go where they are invited and stay where they are welcomed.
|10:30 AM||Parallel Tracks
Increasing Diversity in Computing is Easier Than You Think: Some Small Steps that Make a Big Difference
This panel will consider a number of common questions that colleges and universities face in trying to increase diversity of the population of computing students. The discussion will focus on the types of programs and activities that may be in reach for most academic units, and particularly for units that feel they are currently not doing enough to increase diversity and retain a diverse student population. The following questions are representative of the intended discussion.
• What programs are widely used and proven successful for recruitment, development and retention of diverse student populations in undergraduate computer science programs?
• Depending on type of institution, what are low-cost, low-effort programs that a unit can undertake?
• In universities where the entire student population is not very diverse, how can a unit create a community for students from underrepresented groups?
• Students from different underrepresented groups have unique needs. What are things a unit should think about in creating a welcoming environment for all students?
• What are examples of ways that a unit can partner with other institutions to create a diverse student pipeline?
Growing a CS Department into a School/College of Computing
As computing continues to grow by tremendous leaps and bounds and to permeate universities’ intellectual landscape, many department chairs are finding their programs have outgrown, or are outgrowing, the confines of their current locations in colleges of engineering or science. Discussions are taking place in many departments about exploring the possibility of expanding to a school or college of computing (or a similar name). In this panel, we have gathered a set of Provosts from Universities who have successfully made the transition from a Department of Computer Science to a College of Computing. The panelists will discuss the benefits of becoming a College of Computing, as well as, the challenges Departments face in making a successful transition to a College.
Department rankings matter, whether we like it or not. Our community suffers when these rankings are performed poorly by external parties who may have limited understanding of our field. This is the case, even though we all understand that ranking reduces complex multi-attribute entities to a single number. This panel will describe some ways forward that are recently being explored.
|01:30 PM||Parallel Tracks
Improving Faculty Recruiting in the Computing Community
Faculty recruiting challenges are on the minds of many computing research members. In this session, the panelists will discuss faculty recruiting challenges faced by departmental leadership (e.g., low yield), faculty members (e.g., multiple candidates per week), and faculty candidates (e.g., many strong candidates not getting academic interviews). It will also assess the needs, if any, for computing research community action.
Using CRA Data to Improve Your Department and Inform Decision Making
This session will discuss two of CRA’s data sources: the Taulbee Survey and the Data Buddies Project. Attendees will learn how these data sources are distinct yet complementary and gain a better understanding of the information available from each in published reports and departmental comparison reports. Speakers will describe how departments have made use of these data, and discuss issues of individual and departmental privacy and the tradeoffs of survey length, comprehensiveness, and response rate. A portion of the session will be devoted to getting feedback on how Taulbee and Data Buddies can be of better use to the community.
Augmenting, Not Replacing, People
Artificial intelligence (AI) technologies are rapidly maturing into tools that are impacting our everyday lives. However, contrary to popular conception, most of these tools will not be autonomous, stand-alone systems, but rather will manifest as human assistants and augmentations. While autonomous driving is featured in the headlines, the short-term impact of advances in this field will be increased safety, comfort, and convenience, with the driver still at the wheel. New technologies in healthcare will not replace doctors, but will leverage their skill and judgement by providing super-human augmentations for eyes, hands, and intellect. As more robots move onto the manufacturing floor, they are most likely to function as ever-smarter programmable tools, and will still require human coworkers to teach them new tasks and to do those elements that are simply too hard to automate. Meanwhile, the scope of AI personal assistants continues to broaden in terms of their impact on different aspects of human interactions. This session explores these themes, emphasizing in particular the areas where AI and people will work together to do what neither can do alone.
|03:30 PM||Networking Activities|
After Dinner Talks – Computing Research Futures
Muddied Waters: Online Disinformation During Crisis Events
Machine Learning for Science
While machine learning is revolutionizing many areas of computer science, it is also impacting the theory and practice of physical, energy and life sciences. But the challenges and opportunities in these domains are somewhat different. First, science requires the need to interpret and generalize models and to explain behavior in a manner consistent with physical laws. Second, the scaling problems go beyond large data sets and include very large models and machines, leveraging the access to systems and expertise in high performance computing. Third, the data may be highly complex, and may have a low signal to noise ratio, come from highly optimized sensors, or involve multi-modal data from different experiments or simulations. We expect progress in “ML for Science” will benefit these other disciplines, but will also provide feedback to aid in the power and understanding of machine learning more broadly.
July 18, 2018 (Wednesday)
|08:30 AM||Plenary Session
Plenary Speaker: Raquel Urtasun, University of Toronto and Uber Advanced Technologies Group
|10:30 AM||Parallel Tracks
Self-driving Cars: When Will They Become Mainstream?
Booming Faculty: Opportunities and Challenges
To cope with the rapid growth of student enrollments, many departments have been scrambling to rapidly grow their faculty. This panel will look at a number of questions raised by this rapid growth, among them:
• How can we navigate the transition from small(ish) to big(ger), and the impacts on processes (e.g., faculty meetings, hiring committees, annual review processes)?
• How can political issues from the rapid growth of one department or college in a time of budget pressures be avoided or reduced?
• How are departments coping with the additional pressure explosive growth is putting on space?
• What are the needs for additional staff to support the growth in faculty, and how are departments handling them?
• How are departments preserving collegiality, and growing or maintaining diversity as they expand?
• How are we supporting faculty research in a time of shrinking federal budgets but rising faculty numbers?
• How can we recruit sufficient high quality graduate students and deal with the additional pressures these growing numbers cause?
Diversity in Research Conferences: Spotlight and Brainstorming Solutions
|01:30 PM||Parallel Tracks
Recruiting, Retaining, and Advancing Teaching Faculty
This panel will address questions being considered by the CRA ad hoc committee on the role of teaching faculty in computing units at research universities, and in particular how administrative leaders (in particular chairs) can improve the effectiveness and satisfaction of teaching faculty. Topics are likely to include:
• What are best practices for the role of teaching faculty?
• What can CRA data tell us about the role of teaching faculty across institutions currently?
• What are the common challenges for recruiting/retaining/advancing teaching faculty and how can they be met?
• What unique perspectives do teaching faculty themselves have on these topics and how can administrative leaders better understand those perspectives?
New Models for Industrial Research in CS
Companies large and small are experimenting with new models for industrial research in computer science. Some old labs have disappeared, others are re-inventing themselves, while new labs have sprung up outside the traditional IT industry. This panel will attempt to answer the following questions:
• Why change the model? What is broken and how do the new models fix the problem?
• Do students require different academic preparation to succeed (in both academia and industry)?
• Do these models enhance the ability for researchers to migrate between industry and academia? Is there a viable career path for researchers keeping one foot in an academic job and the other in industrial research?
• Do the traditional models of measuring impact (publications, citations, professional society participation and awards) still matter?
Increasing Social Responsibility in Computing Professionals — What Should CS Departments and Labs Do?
A profound shift in the public view of computing has taken place recently. Computing was traditionally viewed as a source of innovation, economic growth, good jobs, and cool gadgets. In the past few months, one reads in the mainstream media descriptions of Silicon Valley as “tax-avoiding, job-killing, soul-sucking machine” and of cyberspace as “a dark and lawless realm where malevolent actors ranging from Russian trolls to pro-ISIS Twitter users could work with impunity to subvert the institutional foundations of democracy.” Computing today is one of the greatest forces driving societal change, and computing professionals must accept their share of social responsibility. The question to computer science departments and labs is “What specifically should we do to address this challenging responsibility?” The panel will present several points of view on how to respond to the social-responsibility challenge from both the research perspective and the education perspective.
|03:30 PM||Making a Federal Case for Computing Plenary
Speaker: Peter Harsha, CRA
2018 Organizing Committee
Kim Hazelwood (Facebook) Co-Chair
Vivek Sarkar (Georgia Tech) Co-Chair
Lorenzo Alvisi (Cornell University)
Carla Brodley (Northeastern University)
Chris Johnson (University of Utah)
Mario Nacimento (University of Alberta)
Joe Sventek (University of Oregon)
Jaime Teevan (Microsoft)