CMD-IT has announced that Georgia Tech has been awarded the first 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. Georgia Tech received the award at Tapia 2017. The award includes a $15,000 cash award.

The following are some of the best practices for retaining students shared by leading universities in their submissions:

  • Engage in National Committees and Task Forces on This Topic: Universities successfully increase their representation of minorities and people with disabilities by actively seeking out and sharing best practices from experts.

  • Corporate and Peer Mentoring Programs: Such programs provide support and guidance to students throughout their academic careers as well as providing them with role models.

  • Curriculum Development: Some universities focus on creating curriculum that supports the academic, social and developmental needs of the students as well as allowing for customization to increase student engagement.

  • Communication: Universities use a variety of tools such as regular meetings, surveys and events to further engage with students.

  • Organizations: Universities are encouraging the establishment of chapters of national student support societies such as the National Society of Black Engineers, Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and the Society of Women Engineers to provide students with additional support from their peers.

  • Outreach to K-12: Universities are investing in creating and implementing outreach programs to local and statewide K-12 computer science programs.

These programs help feed the pipeline of future CS students and the programs also create committed students.