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UW CSE News

Broadening Participation: The Why and the How

Bachelors to womenWe’re thrilled to have been recognized by the National Center for Women & Information Technology with NCWIT’s inaugural Excellence in Promoting Women in Undergraduate Computing Award, and with the coverage this received in the New York Times, the Seattle Times, Xconomy, GeekWire, and UW Today.

Two bits of followup:

First, here’s an article from a couple of years ago describing “the why and the how” of our focus on gender diversity.

Second, the attached graphic shows the results of this focus. It compares the % of Bachelors degrees in Computer Science that UW CSE grants to women, with the % granted by all CS programs (the data reported by the National Science Foundation) and the % granted by those programs that also grant the Ph.D. (the data reported by the Computing Research Association).

The bad news: We all have a long way to go.

The good news: Programs that focus on it (CMU, Harvey Mudd, MIT, UW, many others) are making progress.

The best email we received in response to the award: “The recognition is a great tribute to you and your colleagues in UW Computer Science & Engineering for doing the hard work necessary to deliver results. Everyone talks about it; it’s terrific when the UW can demonstrate it has done something about it.”

May 24, 2015

UW CSE Ph.D. alum Jeff Dean is WIRED Magazine’s May cover boy!

dean_cover-796x1024UW CSE Ph.D. alum and Google Senior Fellow Jeff Dean made the cover of May’s WIRED Magazine as first among twenty “unsung geniuses who are about to reshape the business world.”

Jeff, who with his MIT Ph.D. alum Google colleague Sanjay Ghemawat is responsible for much of Google’s game-changing scalable infrastructure, is now focused on deep learning as a way to truly make computer systems “smart.”

Read the Wired article here.

May 24, 2015

UW CSE’s Raj Rao’s research profiled in Washington Post

iStock_000060183988_LargeThe Washington Post has picked up Smithsonian magazine’s coverage of UW CSE professor Raj Rao’s research:

“Of course, the story starts with the Vulcan mind meld.

“Since Spock first demonstrated on the original ‘Star Trek’ how Vulcans could absorb the thoughts of another being, the mind meld has been the go-to image for mental telepathy. So that’s how Jerry Adler begins his story ‘Why Brain-to-Brain Communication Is No Longer Unthinkable’ in the May Smithsonian magazine: He compares it with the mind meld and says that some researchers have gone Spock one better: A Vulcan was usually in physical contact with the person whose mind he was accessing, but modern science has managed to transfer some thoughts between two people who aren’t even on the same continent.

“What follows is highly technical and incremental but also very intriguing. We meet researcher Rajesh Rao, who describes an experiment in which a person looking at a Space Invaders screen picks a moment to fire; his brain, linked to a computer via a magnetic field, sends an impulse to another person, similarly linked, who, without conscious effort, finds himself pressing the right button to fire the shot.”

Read more here.

May 24, 2015

“Myth and Reality in the Crisis of College Affordability”

Pulling Up the Higher Ed Ladder Fig 5A careful analysis of national data that cuts through the bull concerning escalating tuition at public research-intensive universities:

“The Real Culprit: Cuts in State Support

“If neither rising spending nor increased aid is primarily driving tuition increases, what is? If we turn to the revenue side of the balance sheet, the answer becomes clear: declining state support.”

Read it and weep … here.

May 24, 2015

Seattle Times: “UW recognized for recruiting women to computer science”

TAsThe Seattle Times captures the essence of why UW CSE was recognized by the National Center for Women & Information Technology with the inaugural Excellence in Promoting Women in Undergraduate Computing Award. (Thank you Katherine Long!)

“UW CSE’s Siena Dumas Ang never thought she would come to love computer science.

“What she loved was dance – ballet and, later, modern – as well as math, and she was planning to major in both at the University of Washington. But then she took a few computer science classes as electives, and found a new subject to embrace …

“When she graduates this spring, the Seattle resident will have three majors: math, dance and computer science …

“Student Jasmine Singh always planned to major in computer science, and when she entered the UW, the computer science department paired her with a female upperclassman majoring in the field. Her mentor helped Singh adjust to college and gave her advice on classes to take. Singh, who grew up in Washington, is a senior double-majoring in computer science and electrical engineering.

“‘There are female professors, tech talks performed by successful and intelligent women, coding competitions with plenty of female participants and hosts, and sports teams (such as CSE Frisbee) that encourage women to join,’ Singh said by email.

“Dumas Ang said she thinks too few women go into computer science because of the perception that the field is a ‘combative, aggressive, male-dominated environment.’ But at least at the UW, that’s not what she found.

“‘Here, there’s much more open discussion about the way women are treated,’ she said. ‘There are always going to be people who have a gender bias, but overall the experience in this department is really pleasant.’

“[UW CSE professor Ed] Lazowska said he’s pleased by one statistic in particular: Of the UW women who enroll in an introductory computer science course, and later decide to major in the field, 58 percent said they were not initially interested in majoring in computer science.

“In other words, the introductory course changed their minds. The women who took the class ‘discovered they loved computer science and were great at it,’ he said by email.”

Read more here.

Learn more about our NCWIT Excellence in Promoting Women in Undergraduate Computing Award – the Grand Prize in the organization’s inaugural NEXT Awards – here. And see additional coverage in the New York Times, Xconomy, GeekWire, and UW Today.

May 22, 2015

NY Times: “Making Computer Science More Inviting: A Look at What Works”

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CSE senior Sonja Khan – New York Times photo

A phenomenal article by Claire Cain Miller in the New York Times, stimulated by UW CSE’s receipt today of the NCWIT Excellence in Promoting Women in Undergraduate Computing Award – the Grand Prize in the organization’s inaugural NEXT Awards:

“When Sonja Khan started college, she’d never thought of studying computer science. But when she heard from friends that the intro class was good, she decided to give it a try – and then ended up majoring in it.

“Four years later, she has just graduated with a computer science degree, is pursuing a master’s degree and is headed to a summer internship at Facebook.

“‘I didn’t even know anything about the field before; I had never considered it,’ she said. ‘I signed up for it pretty much on a whim and really enjoyed it.’

“Ms. Khan’s story reads like a dream for universities and technology companies – where only about 15 percent of computer science graduates and technical workers are women. The industry has been under pressure to recruit more. The difficult question, though, is how to encourage more women on paths like Ms. Khan’s.

“Some colleges have made significant strides, including the University of Washington, where Ms. Khan is a student. Their methods offer lessons for other colleges and companies hoping to increase the number of women in fields where they remain underrepresented.”

Read more in the New York Times here.

Learn more about our NCWIT Excellence in Promoting Women in Undergraduate Computing Award – the Grand Prize in the organization’s inaugural NEXT Awards – here. And see additional coverage in the Seattle Times, Xconomy, GeekWire, and UW Today.

May 21, 2015

UW CSE wins NCWIT Grand Prize for supporting women in computer science

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UW CSE’s Ed Lazowska, Crystal Eney, Allison Obourn, and Ruth Anderson with the NCWIT NEXT Award Grand Prize trophy

The National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) has recognized UW CSE with its Excellence in Promoting Women in Undergraduate Computing Award – the Grand Prize in the organization’s inaugural NEXT Awards. NCWIT selected UW CSE for this honor based on our strong commitment and demonstrated success in encouraging women to pursue computer science education and careers.

From the NCWIT Award website:

“These accomplishments are the result of strategic, well-planned recruiting and retention efforts. They conduct multi-pronged outreach to K-12 schools in their region, including providing professional development, networking opportunities, and other support to high school teachers. K-12 students benefit from camps, campus visits, computing open houses and coding competitions. These programs serve all students interested in computing but are implemented and designed with girls and other underrepresented students in mind.

“The UW program does an excellent job of retaining its majors, including women. There appears to be a strong sense of community and inclusion in the department. One way this has been built is by redesigning the introductory courses so that they are accessible to a range of students by hiring strong, engaging faculty to teach these courses and using well-trained undergraduate teaching assistants, including many women… The University of Washington has grown an inclusive, welcoming community that spans beyond the walls of the university and has demonstrably advanced women’s meaningful participation in computing.”

NCWIT logoUW CSE director of student services Crystal Eney and faculty members Allison Obourn (who also coordinates CSE’s K-12 outreach program, DawgBytes), Ruth Anderson, and Ed Lazowska (a member of NCWIT’s Executive Advisory Council, and also of the National Academies’ Committee on Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine) attended this week’s 2015 NCWIT Summit on Women and IT, and accepted the award.

Congratulations to the members of our hardworking student advising team, the DawgBytes team, and the entire CSE faculty (and especially our introductory course team, led by Stuart Reges) for walking the talk when it comes to supporting gender diversity in our department and in our field! We have a long way still to go, but we’re extremely proud of this recognition for what we have accomplished thus far.

Read NCWIT’s award commendation for UW CSE here.

And see coverage in the New York Times, the Seattle Times, Xconomy, GeekWire, and UW Today.

May 21, 2015

The Seattle Times on the job market for this year’s UW graduates

Graduating senior Dan Radion CQ is moving to New York City with his degree in computer engineering and a job.  Wed May 20, 2015   He had five job offers and chose a new company in Manhattan. (on the grand staircase at Suzzalo Library )

CSE senior Dan Radion (on the grand staircase at Suzzalo Library ) – Seattle Times photo

The Seattle Times writes:

“Vivian Yu, a 21-year-old computer-science major at the University of Washington, is graduating this June with a job already lined up – and four other offers she turned down.

“Jessica Ramirez, a UW American ethnic studies major with a concentration in labor studies who is also graduating next month, is having a tougher go of it …

“Similarly, Sarah Croft, 21, a UW biology major, said she was finding it hard to land a job related to biology or chemistry with only a bachelor’s degree …

“Within the UW’s highly ranked computer-science and engineering program, many of the graduating students had lined up jobs by last fall …

“Dan Radion, a 21-year-old UW computer-engineering major, also fielded about five job offers before deciding to work for New York City-based Analytics Media Group starting in July.”

Read more here.

May 21, 2015

Taskar Center for Accessible Technology joins eScience Institute “Data Science for Social Good” summer program

TCAT traveler image and mapsUW CSE’s Taskar Center for Accessible Technology (TCAT) announced today that two of its projects were selected to participate in the eScience Institute‘s Data Science Incubation Program this summer focusing on Data Science for Social Good. Both TCAT projects address commuting and transportation needs in King County, with an emphasis on enhancing access for individuals with mobility impairments.

The first project, ParaTransit To Go, is a collaboration between TCAT and King County Metro Transit’s Accessible Services group to improve and optimize paratransit services, a demand-responsive mode of public transportation in which passengers are picked up at or near their doorstep and delivered to their specified destination. The second project, Access Map, was created by a team of students as part of the City of Seattle’s Hack the Commute competition under the guidance of TCAT director Anat Caspi and CSE professor Alan Borning. After Access Map captured first place in the civic competition, TCAT continued to support the effort and solicited the help of the eScience Institute to advance the data science end of development.

“Part of TCAT’s mission is to provide longevity to worthy student projects that might otherwise be abandoned upon the developers’ graduation or upon completion of their thesis,” said Caspi. “With Access Map, TCAT was involved from start, but that is not necessarily the case with other projects that we foster.”

“It is great to partner with eScience to provide continuity for projects with high social value and enable more students to contribute to large scale civic data projects like these,” she continued. “Engaging a diversity of stakeholders is critical to building strong and sustainable access technology efforts.”

The UW eScience Institute receives major support from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Washington Research Foundation, and the University of Washington. This summer’s Data Science for Social Good incubator session is sponsored in part by a grant from the MacArthur Foundation and an emerging campus-wide initiative called Urban@UW.

May 20, 2015

CSE’s GRAIL Group and Google turn online photos into time-lapse videos

Time-lapse skyscraper imagesCSE graduate student Ricardo Martin Brualla and professor Steve Seitz, in collaboration with David Gallup of Google, have pioneered a new method for creating time-lapse videos of popular or historically significant landmarks from the millions of photos posted online.

Using a process they call “time-lapse mining,” the researchers sorted photos of a particular location by date and devised a method of compensating for differences in camera position and lighting quality. By warping the photos to a common viewpoint and stabilizing their appearance, they were able to create high-quality videos of the world’s most photographed sites. From skyscrapers rising to glaciers receding, the team provides dramatic examples of how the vast collection of photos uploaded to the internet can be used to understand how our surroundings have changed over time.

The team will present its findings at SIGGRAPH 2015 in August. Visit the project page to view a video demonstration here, and read a PDF of the research paper here.

Read more about time-lapse mining and view videos in the Washington Post, CNET, Gizmodo, Engadget, The Verge, and Quartz.

May 18, 2015

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