[Published originally in the May 2006 edition of Computing Research News, Vol. 18/No. 3]
Expanding the Pipeline
Discipline-Specific Mentoring Tracks
We are also introducing a new concept called Discipline-Specific
Mentoring Tracks (DSMTs) to enable researchers within a particular
computing subfield to develop collaborations and mentoring
relationships. We intend for these DSMTs to include participants
ranging from advanced undergraduates through graduate students and all
faculty ranks. The issues of how to focus a job search, how to embark
on pre-tenure research, which funding agencies to approach, and how to
interpret or write paper reviews all have subtly different answers and
tradeoffs depending on the sub-area of computer science and engineering
being pursued. To address these needs, we are planning Research
Workshops or Summer Schools that will provide an intense immersion in a
research area, its culture, and interactions with established
researchers in the field. Throughout the events, there will be a mix of
technical sessions and discussions of career development topics. The
climate will be distinctly different from traditional technical
workshops because of the significant diversity that will exist among
the attendees and the invited speakers and panelists. Because of their
research focus, DSMTs also foster the formation of research
collaborations and career mentoring networks among participants. The
first Summer School is being planned in Computer Architecture, and is
slated to be held at Princeton University on July 19-21. Please see http://www.princeton.edu/~comparch06/
for details and registration information.
Another new initiative called ‘tri-mentoring’ is aimed at improving the quality of the graduate school experience and the research outcomes for students from underrepresented groups by involving a third person in a mentoring triangle. In some cases, the third person may be an industry researcher; in others, the tri-mentoring may involve two academics from different universities or different fields of an interdisciplinary research topic. Including two mentors per student offers many potential benefits for both students and mentors. The tri-mentoring approach may increase collaboration between the mentors, and make persistent links between a student’s dissertation research and the research activities pursued during a summer industrial internship. In some cases, it may also be a helpful step in alleviating tensions or improving communication between a student and her primary dissertation advisor. Tri-mentoring can also be of great value to the two mentors involved by fostering technical collaborations, and giving them a new voice to contribute to their own learning. These relationships may grow out of other programs such as DSMT or CDC programs such as Distributed Rap Sessions. We will facilitate tri-mentoring with travel funding and assistance in identifying potential members for a triangle.
Traveling Lecture Series
Finally, we want to explicitly reach talented undergraduates who are not being exposed to research at their home institutions. This outreach will continue to be a priority for the DMP. In addition, a Traveling Lecture Series is being redesigned around the lessons learned in a previous CRA-W lecture series to focus on the needs of undergraduates at schools where information about graduate school is more difficult to obtain and research role models are rare. The Traveling Lecture series will complement CDC’s Traveling Academic Forum. The long-term goal of the revamped Traveling Academic forum is to create a community of underrepresented minority faculty to provide support and guidance for current and future faculty from underrepresented groups. Each workshop provides information that permits better understanding and navigation of the academic ladder, and offers encouragement to undergraduate students to pursue graduate studies and possible academic careers. The forum will conduct workshops at Minority-Serving institutions and conferences sponsored by organizations such as the National Society of Black Engineers, Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science, and Black Data Processing Association.
For More information
As the different new programs move from “anticipated” to
reality, the best sources of information on status and deadlines will
be the CRA webpage www.cra.org, the
CRA-W webpage (/Activities/craw/)
and the CDC webpage (http://www.cdc-computing.org/).
We look forward to the launch of these programs, and hope that they
will be helpful to a range of colleagues from undergraduates to senior
Margaret Martonosi is a professor in the Electrical Engineering Department at Princeton University, where she also serves as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs for the School of Engineering and Applied Science. She serves as a member of CRA-W, and is currently editor for the CRA newsletter’s Pipelines column.
Jeffrey Forbes is an
assistant professor of the practice in the Computer Science Department
at Duke University. He serves as a member of the Coalition to Diversify
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