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Outstanding Undergraduate Researchers Award 2010
Nomination Procedure and Guidelines

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The Computing Research Association is pleased to announce the sixteenth annual CRA Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Researchers, which recognizes undergraduate students in North American universities who show outstanding research potential in an area of computing research. The 2010 award program is sponsored by Mitsubishi Electric Research Laboratories.

To be eligible, nominees must attend a university or college located in North America, and must be nominated by two faculty members and recommended by the chair of their home department. No more than two male and two female candidates can be recommended by the same department chair in the same year. Students must be enrolled as undergraduates in academic year 2009-2010 to be eligible.

The awards committee looks for demonstrated excellence of computing research ability. The type of department in which the student is majoring and the area of computing in which the student has demonstrated ability are immaterial. What is important is the quality of the research work done by the student. The awards committee also considers the studentís academic record and service to the community. Preference is given to students in their senior year (or the equivalent).

A cash prize of $1,000 will be awarded to each of two undergraduate student researchers, one female and one male. A small number of other outstanding candidates will be recognized as Runners-Up and Finalists. All nominees whose work is considered to be exemplary are recognized with Honorable Mentions.

The two first-prize winners will receive financial assistance from CRA toward their travel to one of the major computing research conferences sponsored by CRA, ACM, the IEEE Computer Society, SIAM, AAAI, or USENIX. CRA will also sponsor a departmental reception for the two winners at their home institutions.

Nomination forms and complete documentation must reach CRA no later than Tuesday, October 13, 2009. Results will be announced on December 1, 2009.

Nomination Procedure

A nomination package consists of six copies of the following items (each packet arranged in this order):

  1. Completed Nomination form (PDF) with all required signatures.
  2. Letters of support from two faculty nominators (two-page maximum per letter). The department chair can serve as one of the nominators.
  3. Nominee's resume (two-page maximum). List publications here: do not include copies.
  4. One-page description highlighting the student's research and other achievements.
    [The student should prepare this statement. Include a research title/subject; describe the significance of the work as well as the student's specific contributions.]
  5. Nominee's transcript of academic record (non-official is acceptable), and a Verification statement signed by the department chair.
    [This should simply state that the student is in good standing, eligible for the award, and recommended by the chair.]

Refer to the Nomination Guidelines below for nominators and nominees.

No more than two male and two female candidates can be recommended by the same department chair in the same year. Preference will be given to students in their senior year, or equivalent, of undergraduate study.

The nomination must reach CRA no later than Tuesday, October 13, 2009.

Mail/Delivery Address:

CRA Undergraduate Awards
Computing Research Association
1100 Seventeenth Street NW, Suite 507
Washington, DC 20036-4632
(Tel: 202-234-2111)

Questions and inquiries about this year's Outstanding Undergraduate Awards should be directed to The award winners will be announced on December 1, 2009.

Nomination Guidelines

The following offers some advice on completing sections 2, 3, and 4 of the nomination package.

For Nominators (Letters of Support)

The CRA award is about research. If a nominator can talk about his or her direct experience doing research with the nominee, that is the best use of the available space in the letters of support. CRA is especially interested in the nominee's specific contributions. For example, did the nominee invent a new algorithm, provide a certain proof, or analyze data and uncover new information? If the nominee published a paper, what was the nominee's part in the authorship, and did the nominee present it? After discussing research, the nominator should make brief comments on other aspects such as: community service, leadership, any special factors which the student had to overcome, teaching ability, or academic performance. However, please note that the order of the topics above is intentional. While it is expected that the winner of this award will have an excellent GPA and be a star student, the details of how well the nominee did in this class or that class are not relevant to this nomination.

For Nominees (Resume and Research Summary)

Like the recommendation letters, the resume should focus on the nominee's research contributions. It is best if each research project is described in a couple of sentences and clearly states what the nominee did. If the nominee has published (and/or submitted) papers, it is essential to list them with full citations (full author list exactly as given in the publication, title, venue, year, etc.). It is helpful if the nominee’s contribution to the paper is specified either in the resume or the research summary.

The one-page research summary prepared by the student should focus on the research, providing specific details of what the nominee contributed. Remember that the award committee is composed of computer scientists; it is not necessary to explain NP-completeness or what a scheduler is. But the committee isn't made up of specialists in the nominee's field, so it is appropriate to explain the more abstruse details of the research. Concentrate on what the nominee did, not on what the project did overall. We are interested in the nominee's contribution, not the fact that the nominee's advisor's idea is a cool one. The more detail that can be provided on the nominee's part of the project, the better the award committee can understand what the nominee did. Special attention should be given to research, not implementation: for example, the committee is more interested in the algorithm the nominee designed than in the fact that the nominee implemented it in a particular new language. The nominee's publications (including submitted ones) should be noted and the nominee's part in them discussed; for example, did the nominee write the first draft, assume responsibility for a particular section, or contribute evaluation results?



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