The College of Computing has been awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation's Broadening Participation in Computing Initiative to expand the pipeline of quality students and faculty at all educational levels and increase the participation of historically underrepresented groups such as women and minorities in undergraduate and graduate computer science programs.
The college will receive about $2 million over the next three years from the NSF and will use the money to develop these programs in Georgia, with the goal of creating scalable initiatives for the entire United States.
"The core computer science curriculum first established in the 1960s has become too narrow in focus and too antiquated in application to satisfy the educational objectives of a technology-driven world," said College of Computing professor Mark Guzdial. "In anticipation of the expansive and extensive impact that technology will continue to have on our culture and society, it is imperative that educators engage a broader base of potential computer science students, particularly women and minorities, through more contextualized and appealing methods and practices.
"With this grant, the College of Computing at Georgia Tech has an exciting opportunity to integrate a new and highly creative approach to computer science education across the learning spectrum — from kindergarten to college and beyond," Guzdial said.
Potential projects funded with this grant include: partnerships with state and local youth-oriented organizations to develop engaging computer science programs to increase participation at the K-12 level; involvement of computer science college undergraduate- and graduate-level students as mentors; workshops for faculty at other institutions to teach vanguard educational approaches developed by Georgia Tech computing faculty; support in disseminating curriculum ideas among a developing set of users; and creating streamlined methods of communicating results to peer institutions considering curriculum changes.
Work in support of these initiatives began in the fall and will continue through the 2008-09 academic year.
Guzdial based the winning proposal on his experience in helping create a bachelor's degree program in computational media in 2003 and rebuilding the bachelor's program in computer science curriculum on the threads platform in 2006.
Developed in recognition of the college's significant and increasing impact in nontraditional subject areas, these highly contextualized and transformational approaches have proven successful in engaging a wider spectrum of computer science students. Presently, 23 percent of computational media students are women and the total number of enrolled students has increased 77 percent from 2005 to 2006.
"The computing industry can only achieve its full potential when it best resembles and reflects the users and communities whose lives we are trying to impact," said Richard A. DeMillo, John P. Imlay Jr. dean of the College of Computing. "At the College of Computing we are defining the new face of computing by expanding the horizons of traditional computer science students through lifelong, relevant education focused on real-world issues. The model for broadening computing participation here in Georgia will serve as a model for our industry, and the entire United States."