|Volume 7, Issue 1 -
CRPC SUMMER RESEARCH PROGRAMS INSPIRE STUDENTS TO ATTEND GRADUATE SCHOOL AND PURSUE CAREERS IN SCIENCE
Summer Research Programs in Parallel Computing for Women and Minority Undergraduates, California Institute of Technology
During her senior year, University of Washington computer science major Allison Klein was seriously thinking about her future career goals and whether or not she should go to graduate school. She hoped that by participating in Caltech's 1996 Summer Research Program in Parallel Computing for Women, she would obtain knowledge and experience that would help her decide. "My advisors' willingness to discuss things like successfully applying to graduate school, opportunities and hurdles for women in the sciences, and how to define what I want out of a career in the sciences have made me feel more confident and prepared to pursue my career goals," she says. "I now know not only that I do want to go to graduate school, but that I have what it takes to be a successful graduate student."
Klein is one of hundreds of students who have gained valuable research experience and career guidance in annual CRPC summer research programs across the country. At Caltech, students participating in summer research programs for women and minorities spend two to three months working on projects with Caltech scientists and are intimately involved in leading-edge computational research using parallel computers. Students typically select an area of interest, learn how to develop programs for parallel computers, and then use the computers to solve a problem in that area. Research areas include applied mathematics, astronomy, biology, chemistry, computer science, economics, and physics.
Spend a Summer with a Scientist, Rice University
The highly acclaimed Spend a Summer with a Scientist (SaS) program at Rice University provides opportunities for minority and female undergraduate and graduate students to participate in university activities and work for the summer under the guidance of center researchers. Directed by Richard Tapia, Noah Harding Professor and CRPC Director of Human Resources and Education, the SaS program exposes students to research and motivates them to attend or continue graduate school in science, mathematics, or engineering. SaS participants work with researchers from five computational science departments at Rice and from the Keck Center for Computational Biology, a collaboration between Rice, the Baylor College of Medicine, and the University of Houston.
"Initially, the SaS program provided my first introduction to graduate school and helped me to decide to pursue an advanced degree," says Cassandra Moore McZeal, who is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Computational and Applied Mathematics at Rice. "SaS also supplied a necessary bridge between my undergraduate days and my new life as a graduate student. My summer work has helped me to narrow and define my research goals and interests. Most importantly, SaS made available to me a support system on both a professional and personal level that I have found vital to my performance as a graduate student."
The students in this year's SaS program were particularly involved in minority issues. They did presentations for K-12 teachers, counselors, and principals attending the Mathematical and Computational Sciences Awareness Workshop at Rice (see "Spotlight on Teachers," page 12), and acted as mentors to high school students in the South Texas Science Academy Intern Program, held for two weeks at the university.
Research Experiences for Undergraduates, Syracuse University
The Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program of the Northeast Parallel Architectures Center (NPAC) at Syracuse University provides undergraduates with education and hands-on experience in high- performance computing and communications technologies and applications. Sponsored by the NSF, the GE Foundation, and NPAC, the program is held during a 10-week period each summer. Every year, 12 or more undergraduate "research apprentices" are selected from applications received from students throughout the country.
Charles Larry was one of 13 research apprentices in this summer's program. "Participating in the REU program has been a wonderful experience," he says. "I will soon complete an undergraduate degree in computer science at the University of Southwestern Louisiana. I had been considering graduate school, but felt that I did not really have a feel for what doing research is all about. REU has given me that opportunity."
The REU program has two main components: intensive training in high- performance computing and communications and an individual research project supervised by an NPAC research scientist. Typical student projects are in areas such as parallel algorithms and languages, computational physics, digital multimedia, World Wide Web applications, education, financial modeling, natural language processing, computer graphics, scientific visualization, and virtual reality.
The program enhances the computing skills and expertise of undergraduate students by introducing them to state-of-the-art hardware and software in high-performance computing. It also encourages students to pursue advanced degrees and research careers, and to further advance the development and application of high-performance computing technologies.
For more information on these and other CRPC education outreach programs, visit http://www.crpc.rice.edu/CRPC/education or the 1995 CRPC education brochure at http://www.crpc.rice.edu/CRPC/edu-broc2/.