Howard University Receives Top Award for Diversity and Retention in Computer Science

From the Howard Newsroom:

WASHINGTON – Howard University has been recognized by the Center for Minorities and People with Disabilities in IT (CMD-IT) as a recipient of the 2020 CMD-IT University Award for Retention of Minorities and Students with Disabilities in Computer Science.

The University Award recognizes U.S. institutions that have demonstrated a commitment and shown results for the retention of students from underrepresented groups in undergraduate Computer Science programs over the last five years. The award focuses on African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanics, and people with disabilities as underrepresented groups. Howard University will receive the award on September 17 at the 2020 ACM Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing. The award includes a $15,000 monetary prize.

“We are extremely honored to have been recognized by winning the 2020 CMD-IT University Award for Retention of Minorities and Students with Disabilities in Computer Science and would like to thank Dr. Gloria Washington for assisting us in achieving this national recognition,” says Ahmed Rubaai, chair of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. “We are committed to creating computing curriculum that is socially and culturally aware, while maintaining the quality of our program.”

Rubaai added, “We have not lost sight of our mission: to provide a world-class global educational experience for under-represented minority students. We will continue to pursue pioneering initiatives to improve student retention. ”

The CMD-IT said the award decision was based on the Howard University Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and its impressive quantitative reported results, which reflect high retention and graduation rates, as well as qualitative reporting on various retention programs. Howard University has highlighted the following programs as directly impacting retention:

Google in Residence (GIR) is a program that embeds Google engineers as faculty members at Howard University and ten other Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) across the United States. Through the GIR program, Googlesoftware engineers in Silicon Valley are given the opportunity to expose HBCU students to projects, problems, and new technology that Silicon Valley has worked on, solved or is currently solving in our Introductory to Computing (CS0) course. The GIR program has been going strong for more than six years and has been a springboard to students studying for and preparing for Silicon Valley internships.

The Howard West initiative is a program that immerses computer science undergraduate students in Silicon Valley culture, projects, and problems. The semester-long program was first piloted in the Summer of 2017 at Google’s Silicon Valley headquarters. Students were co-taught by a Howard professor and a Google engineer in classes such as Software Engineering, Mobile Applications Development, and Machine Learning. Howard University computer science (CS) faculty are currently collaborating with other tech companies to expand the initiative for students to be exposed to companies that now have a larger eastcoastpresence.

The Howard University CS Bootcamp is a peer-tutoring initiative that is designed to help computer science undergraduates in the Introduction to Computing, Introduction to Computer Science and the Introductory to Data Structures courses. Twice a week, underclassmen attend Bootcamp sessions run by juniors and seniors to gain extra practice and assistance with concepts covered in each of the three classes.

The BIT (Bison Innovation and Talent) Awards were created to recognize students that contribute to the program outside of the classroom. Award winners receive recognition through posters and newsletter articles.

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