Recognizing the importance of inclusion in engineering and in computing, the University of Utah’s College of Engineering will be launching the Utah Center for Inclusive Computing (UCIC) in an effort to boost the percentage of students from groups currently underrepresented in computing.
The focus of the center will be to develop and implement programs that create a welcoming atmosphere for computing as a discipline and encourage more students from underrepresented groups to pursue computing-related undergraduate degrees.
School of Computing Director Mary Hall says, “Giving how important computing is to job growth in Utah, it is critical that the computing workforce be representative of the people of the state.”
While the percentage of female undergraduates in computing has tripled in the U’s College of Engineering over the last decade, the ratio of female to male students continues to be a concern. And Utah ranks among one of the lowest states in the U.S. in female participation in the STEM workforce. Also, students identifying as Latinx make up 13% of the students at the U but only 8% of the undergraduate majors in the U’s School of Computing.
To increase the percentage of students from groups that have been historically underrepresented in computing, the center will focus on three pressing needs: boosting recruiting efforts in first-year computing classes; retaining these students in their computing curriculum all through graduation; and better preparing high school students in math and computer science before they enter college. UCIC will partner with community leaders who will help guide the activities of the center and develop new programs to meet the needs of all involved.
The center will initially be funded through a two-year $700,000 grant from the Northeastern University Center for Inclusive Computing, renewable for a third year for a total of $1 million.