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 CMD-IT University Award decision was based on both Georgia Tech’s impressive quantitative reported results, which reflected high retention and graduation rates and qualitative reporting on their various retention program. In particular, Georgia Tech highlighted the following four programs highlighted as directly impacting retention and graduation: Threads Undergraduate Curriculum: Students are given the opportunity to take control over their curriculum by choosing two of eight Threads to create their degree plan which gives them more than 28 different degree plans to follow. This resulted in students feeling they have more control and a better understanding of their degree plan. Georgia Computes and Project Rise Up: The two programs are spearheaded by Georgia Tech to help increase engagement in computing by broadening participation in computer science at all educational levels by underrepresented groups. These programs increase interest in Computer Science. Mandatory Introductions to Computer Science classes: All students enrolled in Bachelor’s degree programs at Georgia Tech must take one of three computer science classes. The three programs enable students to take courses that fit their level of experience in Computer Science. Travel Scholarships to Conference: Georgia Tech provides between 40 and 120 travel scholarships to leading tech conferences with a diversity focus. Students build networks of support and return with a feeling of renewed commitment to their degree program. “CMD-IT is very pleased to award the first University Award for the Retention of Minorities and Students with Disabilities in Computer Science to Georgia Tech. Their strong retention programs and the documented results make Georgia Tech an excellent role model for other universities. They will be sharing more details of these programs at the Faculty Workshop at the upcoming Tapia Conference,” said Valerie Taylor, CMD-IT Executive Director.

“We’re tremendously honored to be the inaugural recipient of the CMD-IT University Award for Retention of Minorities and Students with Disabilities in Computer Science. At Georgia Tech, we’ve long recognized that computing must become more diverse to reach its fullest potential to serve all corners of society, and we’ve eagerly taken leadership roles in multiple organizations and international events that are dedicated to broadening participation in computing. The College of Computing is proud, for example, to be one of the country’s top three research universities in graduating underrepresented minority Ph.D. students in the past decade, but we know there is a long way to go and much work to be done. We look forward to continuing our work with CMD-IT and other partner organizations to help computing better reflect the full spectrum of the country,” said Charles Isbell, Executive Associate Dean in the College of Computing and Professor in the School of Interactive Computing, Georgia Institute of Technology.