Georgia Tech’s College of Computing is being recognized for its ongoing efforts to grow diversity in computer science (CS).
During an event held Sept. 21 at the 2017 ACM Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing in Atlanta, the Center for Minorities and People with Disabilities in IT (CMD-IT) presented College of Computing Executive Associate Dean Charles Isbell with the organization’s first annual University Award for Retention of Minorities and Students with Disabilities in Computer Science.
“We’re tremendously honored to be the inaugural recipient of the CMD-IT University Award for Retention of Minorities and Students with Disabilities in Computer Science,” said Isbell.
“The College of Computing is proud to be one of the country’s top three research universities in graduating underrepresented minority Ph.D. students in the past decade, but we know there is a long way to go and much work to be done. We look forward to continuing our work with CMD-IT and other partner organizations to help computing better reflect the full spectrum of the country.”
The CMD-IT award recognizes U.S. institutions that have shown a commitment to growing diversity, and that have proven results for the retention of students from underrepresented groups in undergraduate CS programs over the last five years.
The award, sponsored by Microsoft, is focused on growing participation and building retention rates in CS programs among the following underrepresented groups: African Americans, Native Americans, Latinos, and people with disabilities. The honor includes a $15,000 cash prize, which will be used to further the College’s diversity programs.
“Their strong retention programs and the documented results make Georgia Tech’s College of Computing an excellent role model for other universities. The College will be sharing more details of these programs at the faculty workshop at the Tapia Conference,” said Valerie Taylor, CMD-IT executive director.
The CMD-IT award decision was based on Georgia Tech’s impressive quantitative reported results, which reflected high retention and graduation rates, and qualitative reporting on its various retention programs. In particular, the CMD-IT awards committee pointed to four College of Computing programs that directly impact retention and graduation rates of underrepresented students:
- Threads undergraduate curriculum – Students are given the opportunity to take control of their curriculum by choosing two of eight Threads to create plans that give them more than 28 different degree choices to follow. Data shows that students feel like they have more control and a better understanding of their degree program.
- Georgia Computes and Project Rise Up – The two programs are spearheaded by the College of Computing and help increase engagement in CS by broadening participation of underrepresented groups at all educational levels.
- Mandatory CS – All Georgia Tech undergraduate students are required to take one of three introductory CS classes. The three programs enable students to take courses that fit their level of experience in computer science.
- Conference scholarships – The College of Computing provides students between 40 and 120 travel scholarships each year to leading tech conferences that focus on diversity. The program allows underrepresented students to make contacts, build support networks, and return with a feeling of renewed commitment to their degree program.