Archive for the ‘CS education’ category


Analysis of Current and Future Computer Science Needs via Advertised Faculty Searches

November 25th, 2014

cew250The following is a guest blog post from Craig E. Wills,  Professor and Department Head of the Computer Science Department at Worcester Polytechnic Institute

The wealth of faculty searches in Computer Science during this hiring season for positions starting in the Fall of 2015 affords the opportunity to study areas of Computer Science where departments are choosing to invest in new faculty hires. While the number and areas for faculty searches does not necessarily translate into the same for faculty hires, we believe that they provide insight into current and future needs within the discipline. We analyzed ads from 223 institutions for hundreds of tenure-track faculty positions in Computer Science. Overall, the clusters of Big Data, Security and Systems/Networking are the areas of greatest investment.

From a research perspective, the 122 institutions in our study granting PhDs in Computer Science are twice as likely to be seeking to fill positions in Big Data in comparison with BS and MS institutions. Security is of most interest for top-100 PhD and BS institutions. Software Engineering is much less in demand for top-100 PhD institutions relative to the other institutions in our study. Finally, the abundance of potentially interdisciplinary areas is evident for PhD institutions with at least a third and up to 60% of all positions devoted to these areas. Traditional Computer Science areas such as Data Mining, Machine Learning and Vision have become enablers for interdisciplinary study.

The full report containing a description of the methodology and the complete results is available at


Working towards a Healthy Pipeline: Encouraging CS Undergraduates from U.S. Institutions to Consider Graduate School and Careers in Research

August 26th, 2014

The following is a special contribution to this blog by CCC Council Member Ran Libeskind-Hadas and CRA Board Member Susanne Hambrusch, Co-Chairs of CRA-E.

PastedGraphic-2The CRA Education Committee’s (CRA-E) mission is to address society’s need for a continuous supply of talented and well-educated computing researchers.  The committee’s efforts include both research on the state of the “domestic student pipeline” and developing resources to maintain its health.

The fraction of Ph.D. students who are domestic (U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents) has been in decline over the last several decades from around 70% in the mid-1980’s to under 50% in recent years.  A 2013 CRA-E report shows that a small number of departments have accounted for most of the production of domestic undergraduates going on to Ph.D. programs:  From 2000 to 2010, approximately 50% of Ph.D.’s awarded to domestic students come from 54 institutions of baccalaureate origin and the other 50% come from over 747 institutions.

Evidence suggests that many CS graduate programs find it increasingly difficult to recruit domestic students to their Ph.D. programs.  A recent CRA-E study examined over 7000 graduate admissions records from domestic students made to 14 departments between 2007 and 2013.  While the average admission rate for domestic students in this group was 35%, the range was wide.  The average domestic admission rates for schools ranked 1-10 (by U.S. News and World Report) was 25% and the average for schools ranked 11-70 was about 50%, with a range from 29% to 70%.  The data also showed that undergraduates from Master’s institutions and RU/H schools are a significant source of applicants but are underrepresented in the set of admitted students.
The CRA-E and other groups have been working on a variety of ways to support the domestic graduate pipeline.  The new Conquer website  (COmputer ScieNce UndErgraduate Research) provides valuable resources for undergraduates and faculty mentors.  Among these are:

For Students…

  • Candid advice and resources on graduate school and how to apply.
  • Comprehensive resources for finding summer research positions.

For Faculty…

  • Resources for advising undergraduates on graduate school.
  • Resources for supervising undergraduates in research.
  • A full slide deck for a presentation entitled “Why Go To Graduate School?” (field tested at Purdue and Harvey Mudd)
  • A site for listing undergraduate summer research opportunities.

In addition, CRA-E will be holding workshops on “Best practices in mentoring undergraduate research” at major CS research conferences over the next two years.  The objective of the workshops is to help faculty – and particularly new faculty – to effectively engage undergraduates in research.  Some recent studies from CRA’s Center for Evaluating the Research Pipeline (CERP) suggest that well-designed research experiences can be formative for undergraduates and may be particularly effective in encouraging students to consider graduate school and careers in research.

Please help support our efforts by:

  • Telling your students and colleagues about the Conquer website and adding a link to the site from your webpage and your department’s page.
  • Encourage your colleagues to involve undergraduates in their research.
  • Offer at least one information session each year on graduate school and careers in research.  The Conquer site has a slide deck that can be used as-is or modified to your institution’s needs.


Conquer is a joint effort of the Computing Research Association (CRA), the education committee of CRA (CRA-E ), the Computing Community Consortium (CCC), Committee on the Status of Women in Computing Research (CRA-W), the Coalition to Diversify Computing (CDC), and the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT).


New School Year Brings New Round of “CS Bits & Bytes”

September 11th, 2012

The first issue of NSF's CS Bits & Bytes for the 2012-13 academic year, published yesterday [image courtesy NSF].With the start of the 2012-13 school year, the National Science Foundation (NSF) yesterday released the first issue of the second volume of CS Bits & Bytes, focusing on biomimetic robotics, relating optimal control to the 2012 Summer Olympics. The issue highlights the work of Emanuel Todorov’s Movement Control Laboratory at the University of Washington, includes links to related videos, and contains a culminating activity that asks students to define performance metrics for sports, helping them realize all that must go into optimal control and performance.

CS Bits & Bytes is a biweekly newsletter developed to make computer science more accessible to educators and learners around the world. Each issue of CS Bits & Bytes highlights innovative computer science research, often at the intersection with other disciplines, and includes profiles of the individuals who do this exciting work, links for further exploration, and interactive activities. During the first year of production, over 1000 subscribers from more than 17 countries used the newsletter to enhance computer science education.

» Read more: New School Year Brings New Round of “CS Bits & Bytes”

Computer Science Course Now Online at the Khan Academy

August 15th, 2012

An example of Khan Academy's new web portal, teaching computer science through interactive drawing [image courtesy Khan Academy via TechCrunch].Last month at the Computing Research Association’s (CRA) biennial Snowbird Conference, a session titled “Reflections on Teaching Massive Online Open Courses” featured Peter Norvig from Google and Salman Khan (via Skype) from the Khan Academy discussing the recent transformation taking place in education.

Well, yesterday, the Khan Academy launched a brand new portal that aims to teach computer science through interactive drawing. The tutorials on the new Khan website are focused on computing for today’s youth, beginning prior to high school and concluding just before a college-level introductory computer science course.

Check out a video describing the new CS education portal after the jump:

» Read more: Computer Science Course Now Online at the Khan Academy

First Person: Margo Seltzer on Women in CS

July 5th, 2012

Harvard computer scientist and CCC Council member Margo Seltzer was interviewed last week about her thoughts on women in computer science:

Txchnologist: Although women make up nearly half of the workforce in the U.S., the Department of Commerce reports that only one out of four employed computer scientists is female. Does this fit with what you see?


Margo Seltzer, Harvard University and CCC [image courtesy Harvard].Margo Seltzer: It’s stunning. The numbers are bad, and they’re not particularly getting better globally. The only place that I’ve encountered worse numbers is actually finance and entrepreneurism. Those are the only events that I’ve ever gone to where I’ve felt that I was even more outnumbered.


Txch: What do you think accounts for the disparity? [more following the link]


» Read more: First Person: Margo Seltzer on Women in CS

CS URGE: A Resource for Undergraduates

May 21st, 2012

CS URGE, a resource for computer science undergraduates.The Computing Community Consortium (CCC) has developed a new website for undergraduates seeking summer research opportunities as well as advice and tips on applying for graduate school. The website is called CS URGE (CS Undergraduate Research and Graduate Education), and the URL is

We URGE you to promote CS URGE with your students and place a link to the site from your departmental website. In addition to sections on “What is CS Research” and “Why Go to Graduate School?”, the site contains links to many undergraduate summer research programs (e.g., NSF REU, CRA-W, and many others) as well as a free service where researchers can post summer research opportunities and students can search those opportunities by disciplinary area. In addition, there is a page with candid advice on how to navigate through the graduate admissions process and what makes for a good application. Finally, there is a blog in which three current CS Ph.D. students share the joys and challenges of being a graduate student.

» Read more: CS URGE: A Resource for Undergraduates