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CIS Workshop Encourages Minority Students to Pursue Computer Science PhDs

Less than 3 percent of computer science PhD degrees in 2013 went to underrepresented minorities: African-Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans. Why aren’t more of these minority groups choosing to obtain higher level degrees and pursue fields in academia?

One computer science professor from Cornell Computing and Information Sciences is working to counteract these issues with a workshop aimed at minority college students that immerses them in a week of research in improving the reliability of cloud computing, where data is stored and processed in remote data centers. Cornell Associate Professor Hakim 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.

The SoNIC Workshop will host 13 students this year, all of whom receive an all-expenses-paid, week-long workshop. This year the workshop will be held June 12-16 in CIS’s Gates Hall on the Cornell campus.

During the workshop students will conduct network research with a faculty research mentor and give a final oral report. This year students are coming from many diverse universities like the University of Washington, Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Colorado, and the University of Puerto Rico – Mayaguez, 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,” said Weatherspoon. “If each workshop participant did pursue and obtain a higher degree, this single effort would increase the output of URM PhDs by up to 100%."