Education, Outreach, and Training
A major goal of education, outreach, and training activities held as
part of the VGrADS program is to promote greater participation of
underrepresented groups in the sciences, particularly in fields related
to grid computing. To do that, we pursue projects that
address graduate, undergraduate and pre-college education, with a focus
on supporting Minority Students in Majority Institutions (MSMI). We hope that this will directly attack the problem of attrition in the science and
engineering workforce. Today, far too many members of underrepresented groups who do graduate in technical fields do not remain there for their careers.
We have supported the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing and the Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing, both of which are devoted to increasing diversity in computer and computational science. We support student travel to both conferences, submit papers, and present invited talks and panels related to VGrADS research.
The Grace Hopper conference (at right), which is held in even-numbered years, is committed to encouraging women to enter and stay in computing fields. Starting in 2007, it will be held annually. In 2004 and 2006, VGrADS co-sponsored a number of students and staff attending the conference. In 2004, we also led one panel and one Birds-of-a-Feather session.
Although it is usually hard to show concrete outcomes from this sort of support, VGrADS has one big success story. In 2004, VGrADS supported Amanda Cruess, a Rice undergrad, to attend the Grace Hopper conference. The trip inspired Amanda to get more involved in CSters, the Rice women in CS group, which in turn led to Amanda receiving an Impact Award from Rice’s Women’s Resource Council for supporting and promoting the contributions of women in computing. Amanda is currently co-president of CSters, and is working toward establishing mentoring programs at local middle schools with girls who are interested in technology.
In 2006, VGrADS sponsored more students for the Grace Hopper Conference, and - by leveraging support from Rice's Dean of Engineering and the Computer Science Department - was able to fund thirteen students (six grad students and seven undergrads) to attend the conference. Three of the grad students had been funded during the summer of 2006 by VGrADS to participate in Rice's AGEP program (which is detailed below). The three students were from Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Houston Downtown, and have returned to their respective schools with good stories about their experiences.
The Tapia Conference - named for VGrADS PI Richard Tapia - is a biannual celebration of the technical contributions and career interests of diverse people in computing fields. In keeping with the Tapia 2005 theme of "A Diversity of Scholars", VGrADS sent both men and women from three different institutions to the gathering. Most notable of these was Fran Berman, who gave an invited talk on a variety of grid-enabled applications (including some VGrADS research). VGrADS PI Chuck Koelbel continued this involvement as the Posters Chair at Tapia 2007 and Tapia 2009.
At the pre-college level, VGrADS PIs Richard Tapia and Keith Cooper directed the Computer Science Computer and Mentoring Partnership
(CS-CAMP), a summer workshop for high school
girls designed to enhance their interest and persistence in pre-college computer science. In addition, various other VGrADS personnel made presentations at CS-CAMP sessions on both general and grid-specific computing topics.
These materials may eventually be disseminated nationally
through the Engaging People in Cyberinfrastructure
(EPIC) network. In later years of VGrADS, we extended the program to middle-school girls as well.
At the upper-level undergraduate and graduate level, we focus on promoting graduate study at
our own institutions, targeting women and underrepresented minorities
in particular. Our leading program in this regard is joining the Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate at Rice
(AGEP) program by funding approximately three additional AGEP participants per year to
work on Rice VGrADS research. These students spend a summer working on a VGrADS-related research topic, such as testing new grid scheduling mechanisms. They also take part in AGEP seminars on professional responsibilities and diversity awareness. Those AGEP students return to their home schools,
hopefully forming core support groups for other students there, and (we hope, eventually continuing on to graduate school.
Outside of AGEP, other VGrADS partners have integrated VGrADS materials into their existing undergraduate and graduate CS programs, such as UCSD's Grids and High Performance Computing, UCSB's Grid Computing, UH's Grid Computing and UTK's Understanding Parallel Computing courses.