Friday, October 17, 2008

Strengthening the study of computer science

At a time when more and more digital technologies are becoming indispensable to millions of people, the field of computer science (CS) is in trouble. Enrollment and retention of CS students, particularly those historically underrepresented in the field (women, African-Americans, Native-Americans, and Hispanics) has declined sharply. According to the Computing Research Association, CS enrollment in the U.S. was at its peak in 2000, with 15,958 undergrads. By 2006, enrollment declined by roughly half: 7,798 undergrads. And enrollment among already-underrepresented groups has dropped even more sharply.

We hope to address this problem (and potential shortage) with a variety of programs beyond our scholarship initiatives. Recently, our educational outreach group, University Programs, and Diversity and Talent Inclusion teams joined forces to create the Computer Science Summer Institute (CSSI). This special institute included an interactive and collaborative CS curriculum, as well as a living-learning residential experience for student networking. We chose 17 college sophomores, all aspiring computer scientists, to attend the all-expenses-paid CSSI in Mountain View from August 3�15.

Our goals for the institute:
  • To enrich the skills of students early in their CS studies (or at risk of leaving the major) in an effort to increase the pipeline into the CS major and boost retention
  • To provide a social and professional network for underrepresented (women, Hispanic, African-American, and/or Native-American) technology students
  • To empower students, giving them the tools, motivation and confidence to continue with CS studies
  • To show students daily life at Google and the amazing applications of CS that occur here
The CSSI faculty was comprised of Google engineers and our educational outreach group. We paired students with Google "buddies" - engineers with whom they can develop a long-term advising relationship. Students heard from professionals from across the technology industry and academia about the many things they can do with a CS degree.

Students worked in teams to build a completely interactive Web 2.0 website, keeping in mind both practical programming skills and the theory behind it.

We plan to keep in touch with these students across their college careers, and to encourage future participants to complete their CS work and join the community of computer scientists.

Posted by Rebecca Selvenis, University Programs Specialist

Link - from The Official Google Blog