Tag Archive: CRA

Computing Research Association information.

Computing: It’s Hip and It’s Cool

Each February, CRA organizes an annual summit of the presidents, executive directors and other senior policy leadership of CRA, its six affiliate societies—AAAI, ACM, CACS/AIC, IEEE-CS, SIAM, and USENIX—and the NRC’s Computer Science and Telecommunications Board (CSTB) to discuss issues of common concern. Immediately following the summit, CRA’s winter board meeting begins. This year the major topics of both the summit and board meeting were computing’s image, research funding, the Computing Community Consortium (CCC), and education.

Why We Go to the Woods

In the spirit of Henry David Thoreau, why do we get up each day and work? To pay for groceries and make mortgage payments? Practical and necessary reasons, for sure. To conduct important research, educate students and make disciplinary contributions? These are the quantitative and qualitative metrics of success in our field, without doubt. Yet I suspect neither practicality nor disciplinary metrics are the real reasons we climb out of bed each morning. Rather, I believe that when we are circumspect, we know we are each driven by the desire to make a difference, to make the world a better place today than it was yesterday.

Avaya Labs Research – Thriving In Pasteur’s Quadrant

“The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas.” [Linus Pauling] Avaya Labs Research (Research) was created in 2000 when Avaya spun off from Lucent, inheriting and now extending the 75-year tradition of Bell Labs Research. We are responsible for advancing high-potential technologies, understanding customer trends and needs, and establishing alliances with both academia and industry to introduce innovative technologies and competitive solutions. We partner closely with Avaya business units to generate and trial ideas that form the basis for next-generation, enterprise-based telecommunications.

Inventing the Future

In the context of this quote, and as I leave NSF, I invite you to review with me how well CISE is positioned to invent the future. In the space available I cannot review the entire computing innovation ecology (NSF is funding an Academy study on exactly this question; see: http://www7.nationalacademies.org/cstb/project_ecosystem.html). I can, however, review the situation at NSF, which continues to be the funding mainstay of basic computer science and engineering research.

Random Ramblings

The November mid-term election changed the political landscape in Washington, with both the House and Senate shifting from Republican to Democratic control. As I write this column, many TV pundits are busily debating the broad implications of this change. More cogently, CRA’s Peter Harsha is writing about the policy ramifications in both the CRA government affairs blog (http://www.cra.org/govaffairs/blog) and elsewhere in this issue of CRN. Meanwhile, CRA is not waiting for the policy waters to clear, but is continuing an active role in the Task Force on the Future of American Innovation, advocating increased funding for the physical sciences, of which computing is a central component.

NSF Selects CRA to Create Computing Community Consortium:

The National Science Foundation announced on September 18 an agreement with the Computing Research Association (CRA) to establish a consortium of computing experts that will provide scientific leadership and vision on issues related to computing research and future large-scale computing research projects. Under the three-year, $6 million agreement, CRA will create the Computing Community Consortium (CCC) to identify major research opportunities and establish “grand challenges” for the field. The CCC will create venues for community participation for developing visions and creating new research activities.

A Clarion Call within the Cacophony

Like many of you, I serve on a multiplicity of U.S. and international panels that offer advice and suggestions on science policy and computing. Indeed, there are times when it feels as if we are a proximate cause of deforestation, due to the number of voluminous reports we produce. The good ones are even read and have influence— sometimes! Recently, during the question-and-answer period for one of these panels, a U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) examiner noted that rarely do people come to Washington to plead, “I’m dumb, and I have too much federal money. Can you help me?” The comment generated a healthy laugh and knowing nods, but the OMB examiner was making a serious point.

Good Service: A Surprising Secret to Academic Success

Conventional wisdom is that service runs a distant third to research and teaching in academia. It is certainly sound advice for larval professors. If it applies to senior faculty as well, then only idealists would volunteer to serve, for example, on a National Research Council study panel, on the CRA Board, on a professional society leadership council, or in a government funding agency. Hence, when I congratulated Janie Irwin for winning the CRA Distinguished Service Award last spring, I was applauding her unselfish spirit. I was surprised to learn it was her fourth award that year, as CRA’s DSA was also my fourth award in 2006.1 It struck me as odd that in our 30-year careers we would win eight awards simultaneously. Although we both have good reputations in research and teaching, our service records were likely the most distinguished (so to speak) from many faculty. Could conventional wisdom be wrong? Could good service actually help a career and the lack of good service impair an otherwise successful career?

BLS Projects Strong Growth in IT Professions

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that the professional-level IT workforce will grow at more than twice the rate of the overall workforce between 2004 and 2014, and account for 1 in 19 new jobs. In addition, many of these jobs should pay well. Every two years, BLS releases workforce projections covering a 10-year period. The definition for the ‘professional IT workforce’ adopted here is that used by the Department of Commerce’s Office of Technology Policy. This adds two occupations to the 10 listed under the “Computer specialists” category (15-0000 through 15-1099) in the BLS tables: Computer and information system managers (11-3021) and Computer hardware engineers (17-2061).

Education: Research by Another Name

By the time you hold this issue of CRN in your hands, the fall semester will be well underway. New students will be walking the hallways, revised course materials will be online and yes, that bane of all academics—committee meetings—will have returned. Hence, it seems appropriate to consider the continuum of research and education as we recommence our academic roles. I call it “the Tom Sawyer effect,” where Tom convinces a peer group that fence painting is a privilege. How many times have you lured students into research by calling it a class project?

Research: On Being the Right Size

In 1928, the British geneticist J.B.S. Haldane wrote a now famous essay entitled On Being the Right Size, where he noted, “The most obvious differences between different animals are differences of size … it is easy to show that a hare could not be as large as a hippopotamus, or a whale as small as a herring. For every type of animal, there is a most convenient size, and a large change in size inevitably carries with it a change of form.” It was a cogent argument about surface area to volume ratios, structures, respiration and energy.