Students participate in the 2017 SoNIC Summer Research Workshop.

Courtesy of Cornell Chronicle

Students participate in the 2017 SoNIC Summer Research Workshop.

February 1, 2018

Computer and Information Science to Offer New Diversity-Based Summer Programs

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To improve diversity in a still homogenous STEM field, Cornell will offer two computer and information science summer programs serving underrepresented minorities.

The all-expense-paid Summer School on Designing Technology will enroll up to 20 rising seniors and graduate students with experience in informatics, computer science, science and technology studies, communication, product design and visual arts.

Running from June 18 to June 22, the weeklong summer research program aims to address the lack of diversity in CIS.

“Computer science, and to a lesser degree, information science have traditionally been programs that suffer from a lack of diversity, including gender, racial and ethnic diversity,” Dean Greg Morrisett, computing and information sciences, said.

“Cornell has made tremendous strides attracting women and underrepresented minority students to these programs, but we can and must do better,” he said.

Eventually, the long-term goal of the program is to draw more diverse faculty members to CIS institutions.

“These programs are aimed at introducing folks to research in Computing and Information Science,” Morrisett said. “We’re trying to help grow the pool of diverse candidates for future faculty positions, not just at Cornell, but around the world.”

To Morrisett, a more diverse faculty is essential to the future of CIS.

“A diverse research faculty is vital for solving the myriad problems that our society faces,” Morrisett said. “And a diverse faculty helps provide role models and mentoring for a diverse student body.”

This new program joins the existing SoNIC Summer Research Workshop, which is for rising sophomores to master’s degree students with backgrounds in computer science, electrical engineering, math or physics.

Focused on cloud computing, the SoNIC program aims to inspire students to pursue doctorate degrees by exposing them to cutting-edge research methodologies and approaches.

Morrisett believes that diversity is crucial to CIS, given the field’s importance in today’s society.

“The centrality of these disciplines means that they are an important component of every hard research question, from how to develop cures for cancer to how to sustainably feed 10 billion people,” Morrisett said. “If we’re going to solve these problems, we need a diverse community to develop new ideas and approaches.”

While the programs are aimed at underrepresented minorities in graduate computing fields, any student is eligible to apply by Friday, February 23.