Archive of articles published in the 2011 issue.

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.

Pursuing Your Visions for the Future

In the three years since the inception of the Computing Community Consortium – an experiment by the National Science Foundation and the Computing Research Association to create an entity that mobilizes the community to debate long-range research challenges and builds consensus around specific research visions – researchers in many different areas of our field have stepped to the forefront to lead activities that have defined key questions shaping our intellectual future. Yet undoubtedly there are many areas and ideas still unexplored and, as we begin a new year, we encourage you and your colleagues to pursue your boldest, most innovative concepts with us – today!

Mentoring Across the Pipeline: CRA-W Programs at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing

The Computing Research Association Committee on the Status of Women in Computing Research (CRA-W) continued its central role in the Grace Hopper Celebration of Computing this year. CRA-W provided mentoring across the pipeline in a series of workshops targeted at undergraduates, graduate students, and early career researchers. In conjunction with AT&T, CRA-W sponsored a luncheon for researchers in industrial and government laboratories.

Tapia Conference 2011: Reshaped by Feedback

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.

Mid-Term Elections Throw Federal Science Funding in Doubt

With a change in the balance of power in Congress after the November congressional elections, including a shift in the leadership of the House of Representatives, prospects for any significant increase in funding for federal science programs have dimmed considerably, though perhaps not yet completely extinguished. As this goes to press in early December, funding increases for key science agencies approved by congressional appropriators for the 2011 fiscal year appear in jeopardy as Democrats in the lame-duck Congress weigh whether to attempt to push through an omnibus spending bill before the end of the session or punt the uncompleted spending measures to the new Congress in January.