From the Dean's Desk - Feb. 16, 2021

Dear GT Computing community,

Georgia Tech Dean of Computing Charles Isbell

So I was hoping to talk this week about what’s coming later this year; however, we’re not yet entirely sure what that is exactly. The Institute’s Fall 2021 planning committee is building two parallel strategies: one for a semester that looks a lot like this one, and another for a semester where pandemic restrictions have been eased. As we are in a time of entropy, our uncertainty is having some impact on how we plan for a number of things, from admissions to course scheduling. We will have to continue to juggle both possibilities for awhile.

That said, the committee has announced their collective belief that the second scenario is more likely. That would mean more residential courses and in-person learning, something that presumably would make a lot of folks happier. Either way, we should also expect to continue to use the pedagogical and delivery innovations we developed during the pandemic to provide an even better experience for students… and maybe even for faculty.

Outside of the classroom, we still don’t have a solid timeline for a return to campus. But we should expect that when it happens, it will happen deliberately and in phases (like many things in life, it’s like falling in love: one does it slowly, then all at once). Importantly, the Institute’s priority is the safety of faculty, staff, and students, and you can expect that our plans will be in line with recommendations from the CDC and the Department of Public Health.

We do know some things right now, at least within the College. As with the search for the next Chair of the School of Interactive Computing, we are now putting the finishing touches on the search committee for the inaugural chair of the School of Cybersecurity and Privacy. I expect to announce the committee this time next week, and to do the same with the Division of Computing Instruction search.

We’ve also had a wave of good news from our students:

  • Team Phoenix, made up of undergraduates Sudhanshu Agarwal, Albert Chen, Aman Jain, Ali Kazmi, Nicole Prindle, and Marissa Sorkin claimed the third overall prize in the Student Cluster Competition, which was the premier high-powered computing competition of 2020. 
  • Alexander Moreno and Amber Solomon, Ph.D. students in interactive computing and human-computer interaction respectively, have won Google-CMD-IT Dissertation Fellowships. These fellowships, which go to students at universities in the FLIP Alliance, are intended to support the diversification of Ph.D.’s in computing. 
  • Two of our undergraduate students, Ryan Cobelli and  Arvin Poddar, were part of a team that won first place at Hack Covid-19, a student hackathon organized by Tech and the Emory Global Health Institute. Their winning project, “Rotations,” generates schedules and even seating layouts to help keep Covid in check in shared workspaces.
  • Kantwon Rogers, a Ph.D. student in Interactive Computing, and De’Aira Bryant, Ph.D. student in Computer Science, have won Focus Fellowships from the Institute. The Focus Fellowship recognizes graduate students who have demonstrated academic excellence, community leadership and contributions to the advancement of students of color through scholarship and activity.

So there we go: known knowns and known unknowns. One of the former is that I hope you know I want you to have a good week in spite of the weather. Before we know it, sunnier days will come.

Charles L. Isbell, Jr.
John P. Imlay, Jr. Dean
College of Computing
Georgia Tech

EA: Alicia Richhart,, 404-894-8357

Don't just adopt opinions,  develop them

Using innovations:
The safety of faculty, staff and students:
Some things right now:
Team Phoenix:
Have won Google-CMD-IT Dissertation Fellowships:
Won First Place:
In spite of the weather:
Sunnier days: