Workshop to bolster minority computer science Ph.D.s

Fewer than 3 percent of computer science Ph.D. degrees in 2013 went to African-Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans. Why aren’t more of these underrepresented minority groups choosing to obtain higher-level degrees and pursue careers in academia?

Hakim Weatherspoon, associate professor of computer science, is working to counteract these issues with a workshop aimed at minority college students. Weatherspoon, in collaboration with Howard University’s computer science chair Legand Burge, has developed a SoNIC (software-defined network interface) Summer Research Workshop to increase exposure and enhanced research capabilities for minority students.

Cornell’s Computing and Information Science is hosting 13 students this year, June 12-16, for the all-expenses-paid SoNIC Workshop.

The workshop immerses the students in a week of research on improving the reliability of cloud computing, where data is stored and processed in remote data centers. The students will conduct network research with a faculty research mentor and give a final oral report. This year students are coming from the University of Washington, Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Colorado Boulder and the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez, to name a few.

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

Leslie Morris is director of communications for Computer and Information Science.

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Lindsey Knewstub