Friday, February 29, 2008

Keynote Speakers in the News Recently

There are less than two weeks until the SIGCSE 2008 Symposium, we on the steering committee are extremely busy with preparations for the conference (attendance over 1,050 already!). There are some important deadlines this coming Saturday, March 1, 2008; in particular, conference registration rates increase about $30, students must register by then in order to volunteer (and earn their registration while connecting with the conference), and our remaining hotels (Paramount and Heathman) conference rates expire. Please, you know you want to go :-), visit our attendance link and make it happen, save some money and help us to prepare!

I have had many opportunities to note our first keynote speaker and SIGCSE Award Winner, Randy Pausch in this blog. I apologize for my delinquency in citing our two other keynote speakers, and remedy that here and now.

Marissa Mayer (photo left) will address the Symposium Friday morning. She is a Vice President of Search Products and User Experience at Google, reportedly the first woman hired there, and involved in many projects (including movie nights!). Most recently, Marissa was interviewed by the Chronicle of Higher Education about products for college students, administration and faculty.

Our luncheon speaker on Saturday is Ed Lazowska, Bill and Melinda Gates Chair in Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington. Professor Lazowska (pumpkin right :-) has been very active with the NSF/CRA (logo lower left) and was recently interviewed by the CRA News. You might want to check out this interview as it seems to overlap some of the points he might address at SIGCSE 2008.

In fact, I would suggest the entire January issue of CRA news for Dan Reed's comments on research and education, as well as an article on a computer science major for arts and science students at the University of Virginia (note, my CS department resides in a division of natural science at a liberal arts college, go figure ;-).

PS: Happy Leap Day!

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Gender Chip Project

A few weeks ago, Susan Rodger and I were contacted by Patricia Donohue of the Gender Chip Project, asking about how they could participate, esp. given the theme for SIGCSE 2008. Sadly, the program was set (Thanks again Sue and Mark!), so we found some time during the FRI lunch break (yes, other extra activities are happening then as well, here's the full list so far, and I will try to feature others, but there's only two weeks until the Symposium!).

The Gender Chip Project is excited at being able to host an additional event from 12 noon – 1:45 pm on Friday, March 14th, coordinated with the Symposium. Victoria Bernal will be exploring how we, as technology educators, can use media to inspire dialogue and bring more women into the computer science professions. In this workshop, participants will watch short sections of THE GENDER CHIP PROJECT, the 2006 documentary story that follows a remarkable and persistent group of college women at Ohio State University as they train in engineering, the sciences and the technological fields.

Following the screening, Victoria will present and discuss ways to use the film and accompanying online toolkits and curricula to move viewers from insight to action around issues of gender equity. When presented in a range of public settings—from professional group meetings to college peer clusters and presentations for high school students — THE GENDER CHIP PROJECT provokes deep and wide-ranging conversations among women in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields, and serves as a springboard to build awareness and affect change at the institutional and policy levels.

For documentary clips:

For The Gender Chip Project:

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Crossing a thousand ...

I have truly enjoyed all parts of the SIGCSE 2008 conference preparations, all the email, the logistics, working with the steering committee, the Board, exhibitors, child care, convention center, hotels, and the ACM staff -- still, it felt really good when, on February 19, 2008, we passed the 1,000 confirmed for registration mark for the Symposium.

I really do not know if we are ahead of behind last year (which was a record setter), but I was just hoping that there would be a substantial and worthwhile number of computing educators and other professionals to make the effort a success -- one just starts asking, "what if we put on a Symposium and nobody came?" -- or "if you build it, will they come?"

Well, clearly, plenty of people saw the CFP and submitted the proposals, the program was announced and the people saw and registered. We have pretty much filled four hotels, and the ACM has worked hard to arrange two more hotels (Thanks, Brooke!); namely, the Paramount and the Heathman, each with a conference rate available until the next registration deadline of March 1 (when rates increase at both the conference and the hotels!).

There is still time to register for the full program, get a nice rate at a great conference hotel, and participate in a wonderful Symposium.

Oh, and I have been tracking weather in Portland, and it does rain all the time through the winter (at least it did this past winter), but I have noticed a few more rain-free days recently; let's hope this trend continues (i.e., I'm sure the heavy stuff won't come down for some time, at least until after SIGCSE 2008 ;-).

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Speaking about Diversity ... and Accessibility

Today I began with a breakfast meeting with my friends Dave and Steven, along with Maria Klawe (photo right), president of Harvey Mudd College; we'll come back to breakfast later.

President Klawe (i.e., Maria :-) visited a Haverford course on HCI the previous night, then a course on Unix and C as well as lunch with students at Bryn Mawr College today, then an afternoon talk about the issues of gender and computing where Maria had students engaged and asking questions for 45 minutes (after the 60 minute lecture). I got the distinct impression that Maria's words had particular impact on the women in the audience, especially the students. I know I have much to learn about diversity*, but I do feel I have a better sense now than when the day began ...

.. and it began with a nice breakfast, where Maria and I had a very enlightening (for me) conversation about research in accessible computing, assistive technologies, and I discovered Brainfingers. I came for the discussion about diversity, and left with insights into accessibility. Clearly, diversity and accessibility can be connected, and that's what I learned today -- Thanks, Maria.

I look forward to the SIGCSE 2008 conference, where I can continue these conversations with all of you -- register soon, and get your hotel room, they seem to be going fast (we've virtually sold out four hotels, two more added).
* I do not believe this is an example of "impostor syndrome"

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Another Committee on Computing Education

SIGCSE 2008 is now just a month away, and we can hardly wait. In the meantime, the world of computing education continues on, adapting and re-examining issues from curriculum to the numbers of computing students in the pipeline.

I discovered today in a blog entry by Computing Research Association chair Dan Reed of Microsoft that the CRA has decided that the apparent declines in enrollments (and other issues, he has an interesting metaphor of computing education as an onion, like Shrek :-) have become important enough to address with the formation of a committee. CRA-E "... seeks to understand how the broad computing community needs to move forward in order to develop principles and philosophy underlying the computing education of the future." This committee will be led by Andries (Andy) van Dam (photo right) of Brown University (and advisor of 2008 SIGCSE award winner Randy Pausch).

This CRA-E committee seems to be similar in mission to the newly formed ACM Educational Policy Committee (EPC) discussed in a previous blog entry which will make its initial public presentation at SIGCSE 2008 as a panel session. As I stated previously, committees seem to be the bureaucratic response to a problem, but the issues are there, and any and all efforts to address these issues need to be supported (or at least heard).

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

AccessComputing Mini-Grant ...

Just a quick note here, I received a notice of a mini-grant funding opportunity that seems very relevant to the theme of SIGCSE 2008 -- thanks to Jane Prey for the notice, and good luck to all -- JD


Due March 14: Mini Grants for Computing Events

Since February 2006, the Alliance for Access to Computing Careers (AccessComputing) has contributed funds to support computing-related activities, training, and experiential learning opportunities nationwide. Ultimately, our goal is to increase the number of people with disabilities successfully pursuing computing careers.

I'm hoping to receive proposals for up to $4000 of funding for direct expenses for AccessComputing activities for students with disabilities in 2008. Proposals should be submitted by March 14, 2008. The application format is included at the end of this message.

Consider seeking funding to support:

(1) an existing computing event in order to attract/involve students with disabilities (check with your computing/engineering department and see if they already have something going on that you could develop a mini-program for students with disabilities; for example, we have exhibits, speakers, and other activities regarding disability issues as part of our more
general UW Engineering Open House) or

(2) a stand-alone new event to attract and support students with disabilities in computing fields.

Would you like to submit a proposal?
Just put it in the following format and submit it to by March 14, 2008.

AccessComputing Mini-grant Event Proposal

Event Title:
Event Date(s):
Event Location:
Event Director:

Event Objective(s) and Outcome(s)
How will your event promote the interest, participation, and/or success of individuals with disabilities in computing careers?

Event Description
How will your event accomplish these objectives (including draft agenda and expected number of participants)?
Event Budget
For what expenses do you request funding from the AccessComputing Alliance? (for example, travel expenses for a speaker, refreshments for
participants, facility rental, printed materials; we do not cover salaries
of regular staff; we may cover a student salary if that student has a
disability; note that if your proposal is approved, AccessComputing staff
will arrange to cover expenses directly [e.g., airfare for a guest speaker] rather than provide grant funds for you to disperse)

Event Management, Support Staff, and Timeline
Who will do what and when to publicize the event, implement the activity, and evaluate the results?

Event Evaluation
How will you know you have accomplished the objectives (for example, evaluation forms, observations, interviews), especially documenting increased interest and/or pursuit of computing on the part of students with disabilities?

Sunday, February 3, 2008

February made me shiver ...

... from one of my favorite songs (and yes, I know all the words _and_ chords) -- SIGCSE 2008 registration is proceeding smoothly (or at least the registration team is handling all the details very well). The main reason to register early is price (save $30-50); also note that SIGCSE membership ($25/year) saves $60 on the registration fee. I also ask you to consider "opting-in" during the registration process so that some of our supporters can be in touch, it's not much to ask considering their substantial contributions (some for decades, some we welcome for the first time).

And please look to encourage students to register and volunteer, and to contact our student volunteer chairs, Dan Garcia and Jeff Forbes -- it's a great deal on price and a fantastic opportunity.

Another reason to register early is to help us in our counts (and estimates of trends) for such things as meals, breaks, and proceedings (and if you really want a paper copy!). Less waste means more funds for the conference and for other SIGCSE projects. Early registration closes Feb 12 ...

... just around the time that the conference hotels will expect attendees to have made their reservations. We were hopeful that the lodgings would be suitable, but we were very surprised at how quickly the Red Lion and the Inn at the Convention Center filled. There are still rooms available at the final conference hotel, the Portland Hilton, and ACM has helped us to add a fourth, the Benson Hotel. Please take time soon to make these reservations so you can have the lodgings that work for you for the Symposium, _and_ we can see if we need to get started on yet another hotel -- a nice problem to have :-).

I also have to let you know that members of the program committee are very busy putting final approval on many of the materials you expect to have available (proceedings, advanced program, website, workshops). It is much work done by dedicated people.

Furthermore, I have to compliment them on the content of the Symposium again, I am still discovering how many great papers and other presentations we have, and how many really addressed the theme. I found myself constantly needing to stop reading for understanding and just get the stuff proofread! I thought we would have some papers on gender issues and a few on teaching students who have disabilities; rather, we have papers on culture, global issues, cross-country perspectives, even service learning projects near and far.
Happy Groundhog's Day!
Also, as we all prepare to travel to Portland, I just want to note this previous post about the restaurants, and that I just discovered another article about the wine country via bicycle.