Cornell University Initiative Seeks to Broaden Diversity in Computing

By Roach, Ronald | Diverse Issues in Higher Education, February 22, 2007 | Go to article overview

Cornell University Initiative Seeks to Broaden Diversity in Computing


Roach, Ronald, Diverse Issues in Higher Education


ITHACA, N.Y.

In an initiative supported by a $600,000 National Science Foundation grant, Cornell University is launching a pilot project to develop innovative approaches to bring more underrepresented minorities and women into the computing field. The Worlds for Information Technology and Science project, or WITS, is led by Dr. David Gries, Cornell's associate dean for undergraduate engineering programs, and Margaret Corbit, the outreach manager for the Cornell Theory Center.

The project, which makes use of service learning to attract minorities and women to computing fields, is creating a four-credit undergraduate course, "Computing in Context" which will be sponsored by the university's computing and information science department. In addition to the new course, the project will develop the CYCentr/CYFair, a service outreach program in which "Computing in Context" students mentor middle school students. According to Cornell officials, service-learning projects have been shown to have high appeal for minorities and women.

"Computing has broadened to encompass almost all fields," Cries says. "This grant will help us to not only attract Cornell students into computing but will also serve to build awareness of and excitement for computing in secondary schools. …

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