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SoNIC Workshop takes minority students to the cloud

Sonic Workshop

Jason Koski/University Photography
Hakim Weatherspoon, far right, leads a SoNIC Workshop.

Fewer than 3 percent of computer science Ph.D. degrees in 2013 went to African-American, Hispanic and Native American students.

Hakim Weatherspoon, associate professor in the Department of Computer Science, is trying to boost that number with a workshop that immerses minority college students in a week of research on improving the reliability of cloud computing. Weatherspoon, in collaboration with Howard University’s Legand Burge, developed the SoNIC (software defined network interface) Summer Research Workshop to expose minority students to enhanced research capabilities.

Since its inception five years ago, the SoNIC Workshop has grown from six students to 22, all of whom receive an all-expenses-paid, week-long workshop. This year it will be held June 14-20 in Bill and Melinda Gates Hall.

During the workshop students will conduct network research with a faculty research mentor and give an oral presentation. This year students come from many diverse universities like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Tuskegee University, South Carolina and Universidad del Turabo, Puerto Rico.

“Graduating underrepresented minorities in computer science at the doctoral degree level is important to Cornell and critically important to our nation,” said Weatherspoon. “If each workshop participant did pursue and obtain a higher degree, this single effort would increase the output of [underrepresented minority] Ph.D.s by up to 100 percent."

The workshop is supported by the National Science Foundation.

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Joe Schwartz