New Initiative Looks to Boost the Number of Blacks in Graduate-Level Computer Science

Seven universities have been chosen by the National Science Foundation for participation in the Institute for African American Mentoring in Computing Sciences (iAAMCS, pronounced “I am CS”). The goal of the initiative is to increase the number of African American students pursuing graduate degrees in computer science. While the percentage of Black students in undergraduate degree programs in the field is proportionate to their share of the population, African Americans make up only 1.3 percent of all graduate degree recipients in the field and only 1.2 percent of all tenure-track faculty in computer science.

Juan-GilbertThe seven participating universities are Auburn University, Carnegie Mellon University, Clemson University, Rice University, the University of Alabama, the University of Wisconsin, and Winston-Salem State University. Clemson University is leading the project that is funded by a $5 million NSF grant. Co-director of the project at Clemson are Juan Gilbert, who holds the Presidential Endowed Chair in Computing and is the chair of the university’s Human-Centered Computing Division, and Shaundra Bryant Daily, an assistant professor of computer science.

Anderson-Herzog_MonicaMonica Anderson, associate professor of computer sciences at the University of Alabama who is involved in the iAAMCS initiative, states, “The iAAMCS grant focuses on mentoring the next generation of thought leaders in computer science. Future U.S. competitiveness relies upon the ability to leverage the talents of a diverse population. Although jobs in computer science related fields will continue to grow over the next 10 years, there are projected shortfalls in computer scientists at all levels of education.”

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