Grant to Recruit Women to Computer Science Field

The University of Central Arkansas has received a $10,000 grant that will help bridge the gender gap in computer science.

NCWIT Academic Alliance Seed Fund grant will help build a more female-friendly environment for computing majors by recruiting a first-year cohort of women and retaining them with opportunities for learning, research, service and leadership. The grant is funded by the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) and Microsoft Research.

UCA was one of five universities that received the grant for 2012. Other schools were the University of Virginia, Fisk University, Claremont Graduate University, and Union College.

“This project will not only directly recruit female students into computer science, but it is designed to provide a support and mentoring network for them once they matriculate at UCA,” said Steven Runge, dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. “This is a critical component in the plan that will help retain these students through to graduation and into graduate programs and careers in the computing fields.”

Chenyi Hu, chairperson and professor of the computer science department; Yu Sun, associate professor of computer science; and Karen Thessing, lecturer of computer science, were the authors of the grant. They will lead this project, but all members of the department will be involved in recruiting, Runge said.

The project also will involve the students in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) Residential College and students involved with the Computer Science Club.

NCWIT and Microsoft Research have awarded $365,450 in funding to 29 universities and colleges since 2007. To learn more about UCA’s Computer Science program, visit uca.edu/computerscience  - Lisa Burnett