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The University of Texas at El Paso Receives 2019 CMD-IT University Award for Retention of Minorities and Students With Disabilities in Computer Science

977 Days ago

CHICAGO, Sept. 19, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Center for Minorities and People with Disabilities in IT (CMD-IT) announced The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) as the recipient of the third annual CMD-IT University Award for Retention of Minorities and Students with Disabilities in Computer Science.  The University Award recognizes US 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, sponsored by Microsoft, is focused on the following underrepresented groups: African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanics, and People with Disabilities.  UTEP received the award on September 19th at the 2019 ACM Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing in San Diego, California.  The award included a $15,000 cash award.

The CMD-IT University Award decision was based on UTEP’s impressive quantitative reported results, which reflected high retention and graduation rates, and qualitative reporting on their various retention programs.  In particular, UTEP highlighted the following programs as directly impacting retention:

  • Computing Alliance of Hispanic-Serving Institution (CAHSI), which is led by UTEP and has been funded by the NSF Broadening Participation in Computing since 2006, is a consortium of over 40 institutions with a focus on the recruitment, retention, and advancement of Hispanics in Computing.    CAHSI has adopted a collective impact framework to support collaborative change through five key conditions: Common Agenda; Backbone Support; Continuous Communication; Mutually Reinforcing Activities; and Shared Measurement.
  • Implementation of the Affinity Research Group Model (ARG).  The ARG model, which was developed at UTEP in the late 1990’s, is a set of practices built on a cooperative team framework imbued with cooperative-learning principles, which have been shown to increase student achievement and self-esteem. ARG supports the creation and maintenance of dynamic and inclusive research groups in which students learn and apply the knowledge and skills required for research and cooperative work, emphasizing the conscious and explicit development of skills.  In addition to its application to research groups, ARG practices have been incorporated into classrooms in which structured team-based activities are needed.
  • Peer-Led Team Learning (PLTL) is a model of instruction for introductory STEM courses that introduces a peer-led workshop as an integral part of the course.   In PLTL, a student who was previously successful in the course is recruited to lead students in weekly workshops to problem solve and discuss course content. PLTL is known for its ability to help minority students succeed. PLTL is used in the first three introductory CS courses.
  • The CS Department’s NSF-funded Revolutionizing Engineering and Computer Science Education (RED) efforts in the areas of equity and inclusion, student professional development, and career pathways. 
  • Microsoft named El Paso a TechSpark City.  TechSpark is a national civic program aimed at fostering greater economic opportunity and job creation through partnerships with rural and smaller metropolitan communities, including digital transformation, digital skills and computer science education, career pathways, rural broadband, and support for nonprofits.

“CMD-IT is pleased to award the University of Texas El Paso with the CMD-IT University Award.  Their commitment to the retention of underrepresented minorities and people with disabilities through the implementation of innovative and effective programs is having a measurable impact.  They will share details of these programs at the Faculty Workshop on Friday September 20th at  the ACM Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing Conference,” said Valerie Taylor, CMD-IT CEO and President.

“We want to express our immense gratitude for being named the recipient of the CMD-IT University Award for Retention of Minorities and Students with Disabilities in Computer Science. At UTEP, we have long recognized the importance of inclusion and equity as a means of advancing discovery. The unique perspectives of our 21st century student demographic and faculty are vital contributions to research and innovation. UTEP is currently at the forefront of an initiative to ensure Hispanics comprise 20 percent of graduates in computing disciplines, nationally, by 2030. UTEP’s recent designation as a top tier research institution affirms the ability of a university to conduct outstanding research while providing exemplary learning environments that graduate competitive students from underserved communities.  We greatly appreciate being recognized by an organization that shares our mission of providing opportunities for young people to achieve success. We look forward to collaborating with CMD-IT and other partners to continue to create pathways for diverse approaches in computing,” said Ann Gates, Professor and Chair of the Computer Science Department at The University of Texas at El Paso.

For more information, visit http://www.cmd-it.org/programs/current/university-award/.

About CMD-IT

The vision of CMD-IT is to contribute to the national need for an effective workforce in computing and IT through inclusive programs and initiatives focused on minorities and people with disabilities. CMD-IT’s vision is accomplished through its mission to insure that underrepresented groups are fully engaged in computing and IT and promotes innovation that enriches, enhances and enables underrepresented communities. For more information, please visit www.cmd-it.org.

Media Contact:  Jerri Barrett, jerri@cmd-it.org

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