Saturday, June 25, 2011

Hakim Weatherspoon encourages minority computer science students to build more than the Internet

Follow sookietex on Twitter ITHACA, N.Y. – The Sonic Workshop – an undergraduate clinic in Internet computing – brought five students from Howard University and one from the University of Puerto Rico to the Cornell University campus June 12-18 to learn about encoding digital bits for Internet transmission … and to learn a little bit about themselves.

In addition to teaching about fiber-optic networks and how Internet errors might be caused, Hakim Weatherspoon, Cornell assistant professor of computer science, offered an ulterior motive: He wanted to encourage the African-American and Hispanic students – mostly juniors and seniors – to consider pursuing high-level graduate work and a career in research.

“The whole time we were exposing the technical subject we were letting them know they can pursue research careers instead of just going into industry,” Weatherspoon said. He recruited minority students for his workshop because only about 3 percent of Ph.D.s in computer science and engineering are underrepresented minorities. About 1,500 students were awarded Ph.D.’s in the United States in 2008-09. Of those, of those 17 were African-American, 22 were Hispanic and three were Native American, according to most-recent Computing Research Association’s Taulbee Survey.

Hakim Weatherspoon

Hakim Weatherspoon
Throughout the week, the students heard many Cornell faculty presentations. After each presentation, Weatherspoon asked the presenters, “Why did you get a Ph.D.?”

Weatherspoon’s favorite answer came from Michael Spencer, Cornell professor of electrical and computer engineering, who said it was a “spiritual decision.” That spirituality arguably applies to Weatherspoon, who had planned to get a job at Microsoft or Intel after graduating from the University of Washington, but then started thinking about changing the world. He went to the University of California-Berkeley for graduate school and earned a doctorate.

“In an academic position, you can have tremendous influence and impact. You can affect the national agenda,” he said.

The Howard University students who attended the workshop were: Jay Jackson, of Roswell, Ga.; Qi’Anne Knox, of Chicago; Bathiya Senerinatha, of Sri Lanka; Wardell Samotshozo, of Annandale, Va.; and Keesha Joseph, of Severn, Md. (Joseph is pursuing her master’s degree at Howard University currently.) Also attending was Hector Tosado, an undergraduate student from the University of Puerto Rico.


Contact Blaine Friedlander for information about Cornell's TV and radio studios.

CORNELL UNIVERSITY PRESS OFFICE June 22, 2011 Media Contact: Blaine Friedlander (607) 254-8093 Twitter: @BlaineCornell

No comments:

Post a Comment