University of Washington Bothell Program Expands Access to Parallel and Distributed Computing for BIPOC Students
With an interest in enhancing diversity and inclusion in computer science and engineering, Munehiro Fukuda, professor and chair of the distributed computing laboratory at University of Washington Bothell, applied to the IEEE Computer Society Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Fund of the IEEE Foundation for support to launch an internship program aimed at assimilating BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) high-school students into the university research environment. Funding was granted, and in early 2022, work commenced to prepare for the summer program.
“This project intended to give a university-level research internship to BIPOC high-school students for summer 2022,” shared Fukuda. “Targeting those who completed AP computer science, this project engaged them in our research project in parallel and distributed computing under BIPOC graduate research assistants’ supervision.”
Recruitment focused on direct channels through Indeed.com, in addition to targeted outreach to a Native tribal organization, graduates of color, and the project leader’s personal and university connections. In the end, these efforts brought in four high school interns and two master’s students/research assistants (RAs) from Indian, Asian, and African descent.
The program targeted two principal areas of research: 1. comparison among C/C++ agent-based parallel simulators; and 2. parallelization of computational geometry programs using MASS and conventional data-streaming tools. Over the course of three weeks, from 11 July – 29 July 2022, the interns and RAs focused on three distinct modules, one per week.
The first module trained the high-school interns to understand parallel programming and to run parallel-computing libraries including FLAME, RepastHPC, MASS, MapReduce, and Spark.
For the second module, the team was divided in half: Two interns worked on a comparison among C/C++ agent-based parallel simulators and the other two focused on a parallelization of computational geometry programs using MASS and data-streaming tools in Java.
In the final week, the third module taught the interns how to use graph-generating tools such as gnuplot to visualize measurements.
“These interns worked very hard, took away as many parallel-programming techniques as possible, and were mentored a lot from our RAs,” indicated Fukuda. “The two RAs not only helped these four high-school interns work on their measurement tasks, but also mentored them for maintaining their high motivation and encouraging their plans on advancing to the university study.”
The summer program provided high school students with a strong view into the research landscape, and they excelled, with one student receiving an AP Scholar Award, another taking early actions for university in October 2022, the third taking running-start courses, and the junior beginning plans for university applications.
With these efforts, BIPOC high school students were exposed to a deep level of scientific research and offered a glimpse into their potential path at the university level. The approach was designed to encourage and inspire students with computer science interests to continue on that journey.
“The project has successfully pursued its goals and objectives. We would like to express our deep appreciation to the IEEE Diversity & Inclusion Committee for giving us this valuable opportunity,” concluded Fukuda.
For more information on IEEE CS D&I programs, visit https://www.computer.org/about/diversity-inclusion.