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COMPUTER SCIENCE POST DOCTORAL STUDENTS & THEIR NEED FOR BROADER CAREER DEVELOPMENT EXPERIENCES

Posted By Linda Coyle, Friday, July 21, 2017

Guest Blog:  Dr. Len Fine, SFAz Fellow, formerly Professor & Director, Undergraduate Studies, Columbia University

 What’s this about?   It’s about a computing conference and convening in Flagstaff, Arizona, The Nation’s First STEM CITY.   The events was part of a “Foundational Model for Postdoctoral Programs in Computer Science and Engineering at Large Universities: PostDoc BP-Arizona”

The paradigm is shifting! In recent years, the combined needs of academic departments, industrial research laboratories and government agencies have led to dramatically increasing numbers of postdoctoral positions in computer science and engineering. Data from research show that the numbers of recent Ph.D.s pursuing postdocs following graduate school increased by more than 300%, soaring from 60 in 1998 to 249 in 2011. And the beat goes on.

The continued success of the discipline notwithstanding, as research organizations continue to channel many more young researchers into these positions, it is incumbent upon the computing and computer science community to have a clear understanding of the best practices associated with pursuing, hosting, and nurturing postdocs. They must be more than just workhorses for a research agenda.

The intent of this program is to articulate best practices for the several constituencies involved with special emphasis on the Computer Science and Engineering (CS&E) and to better serve the wider science and engineering communities that are linked together by computer science. It builds on recommendations aimed at realistically satisfying the career expectations for a postdoc, expanding the professional duties of the advisor who directly supervises the postdoc, and extending the responsibilities of the host organization beyond local professional needs. It also defines the supporting role that the Ph.D. advisor must assume if the pipeline is to be adequately primed and maintained. Importantly, there are roles and responsibilities for each of these constituencies before, during and after a postdoctoral experience.

In partnership with Science Foundation Arizona (SFAz) and led by the Computing Research Association (CRA) and the Computing Community Consortium (CCC), and funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the program addresses national and societal needs in Computer Science, providing the platform for a new postdoctoral experience in Computer Science and Engineering (CS&E). The program addresses three aspects of the current CS postdoc model:

1.     Postdocs are often not exposed to the bigger picture: practices beyond the specific laboratory and interests of the advisor/mentor. At a crossroads in their career, postdocs are often over-focused on research at the expense of career development and advancement.

2.     The responsibility placed on the advisor/mentor is high and may be overwhelming, as it involves responsibilities to mentor one or more postdocs, manage other students and staff, maintain an active research portfolio, and develop ongoing project ideas. The advisor/mentor is recognized as one of the most important factors for the success or failure of a postdoc’s career.

3.    Organizational infrastructure at all levels--from the department to the office of research— tends to lack mechanisms to train and otherwise support postdocs. This can be ascribed to the postdoc’s interstitial employment status. Postdocs are generally considered momentary contributors within the larger research apparatus and their diminished visibility results in decreased opportunities.

The focus is on Computer Science and Engineering (CS&E) postdoctoral researchers within ASU’s School of Computing, Informatics and Decision Systems Engineering (SCIDSE) and extended state-wide through UA and NAU. The goal is to design innovative postdoctoral programming and the implementation of best practices at large, research intensive, metropolitan universities for wider dissemination and application.

The SFAz Computer science and engineering (CS&E) postdoctoral best practices initiative in partnership with ASU and in collaboration with UA and NAU held a 2-day program in Flagstaff that brought together 40 postdocs, faculty and industry partners for a series of events that brought to focus career workshops on successful grant-writing, intellectual property, and assessment of broader impacts of IT and Informatics. R&D seminars featured environmental sustainability and Big Data issues, policies and practices. Hosting the diverse event was Professor Paul Flikkima and the NAU School of Informatics, Computing and Cyber Systems (SICCS). Lowell Observatory provided an evening astronomy after dinner event for all attending. The program (attached) was exciting and engaging, and begged for follow-up programs… now being planned for late in the fall, in Flagstaff and Tucson, and in Phoenix.

SEE ATTACHMENT FOR DETAILS!

 

 Attached Files:

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Statistics is FUN!

Posted By Linda Coyle, Monday, July 17, 2017

Guest Author: Teresa Tallman, "The MEAN lady"

Statistics for kids? Yes. Elliot Schrage, vice president of communications at Facebook, argues that our kids should study “statistics, because the ability to understand data will be the most powerful skill in the twenty-first century.”

Rebecca Nichols, American Statistical Association’s Director of Education, said: “Sound statistical thinking and reasoning takes time to develop. As mathematical thinking is developed over years of study starting in the early grades, so should statistical thinking.” 

This means that children should be introduced to statistics concepts along with other math concepts…at ages 3, 4, 5… Impossible? Not at all. 

First, let’s understand why teachers and parents don’t talk statistics to kids.

·      Parents may be unfamiliar with statistical concepts themselves.

·      Teachers are familiar with statistics and do not like it.

·      Children are too young to hear complicated terms.

·      Children do not have the math skills necessary for statistics.

Many people are afraid of statistics. I get that. My first introduction to statistics was in tenth grade math (I hate to think how long ago that was!). We were doing probability by flipping coins. I did not plan on gambling so I didn’t understand the point of probability. I couldn’t relate at all. I became traumatized by the term statistics.

When I began my career as a manufacturing engineer, my company put me through a six week, eight hour a day applied statistics class. I figured out pretty quickly that using statistical techniques in data analysis was important to this company and if I wanted to succeed, I’d better figure it out.

My factory made pressure sensitive adhesive tape for diapers, microwaves, cars, labels and highways. Let me tell you, there is a lot of designing that goes into that little tab of sticky stuff. It has to be engineered regarding what it sticks to, how long it adheres, how you get it off and what temperatures and humidity and stress it has to endure. From the manufacturing line, data is collected on temperatures, speeds, humidity, pressures, and that is paired with quality test data of raw material inputs and outputs. The data may be collected every few seconds. That’s a lot of numbers to wrestle with.

A big part of a manufacturing engineer’s job is to track the data generated and confirm that the process is steady state. It’s consistent. Don’t you hate it when you buy something at the store and you really liked it and you buy again, and it’s not what you bought before? It’s the same thing in manufacturing. A customer wants a product they can depend on. No one likes surprises.

One tool that an engineer uses is something called a control chart. It’s a picture of the data over time. On a control chart, points go up and down but you can pretty easily see if there is a trend. Limits based on normal variability help you decide when to make an adjustment to the process so a consistent product is produced. (We’ll talk about the fundamental role of variation in a future blog.)  The tool of statistical process control turns all of that data into information so people can make decisions.

Today, most factories use statistical process control to manage their operations. Factory by factory…what if statistical process control proliferated through a country? That’s just what happened to Japan after WWII thanks to the efforts of W. Edwards Deming.

Deming's teachings and philosophy are clearly illustrated by examining the results they produced after they were adopted by Japanese industry, as the following example shows. Ford Motor Co.  was simultaneously manufacturing a car model with transmissions made in Japan and the United States. Soon after the car model was on the market, Ford customers were requesting the model with Japanese transmission over the US-made transmission, and they were willing to wait for the Japanese model. As both transmissions were made to the same specifications, Ford engineers could not understand the customer preference for the model with a Japanese transmission. Finally, Ford engineers decided to take apart the two different transmissions. The American-made car parts were all within specified tolerance levels. On the other hand, the Japanese car parts were virtually identical to each other, and much closer to the nominal values for the parts—e.g., if a part was supposed to be one foot long, plus or minus 1/8 of an inch—then the Japanese parts were all within 1/16 of an inch, less variation. This made the Japanese cars run more smoothly and customers experienced fewer problems.

 

Many in Japan credit Deming as one of the inspirations for what has become known as the Japanese post war miracle of 1950 to 1960, when Japan rose from the ashes of war on the road to becoming the second largest economy in the world. (Wikipedia)

 That’s the power of statistics.

Statistical thinking needs to be integrated with math and science concepts throughout the learning years. I want kids to avoid my initial experience.  It should be presented in a fun environment around projects that kids are interested in. And believe it or not, we can introduce the concepts of mean, variability and other terms to preschoolers without using numbers. In the future, I’ll be sharing how to go about doing that!

Remember, STATISTICS is FUN.  

Author: Teresa Tallman

"The MEAN lady"

 

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Verizon partners with SFAz and GCU to bring CS Education to AZ Teachers and Students

Posted By Linda Coyle, Wednesday, June 28, 2017
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eeYYb0U7cJ0

Science Foundation Arizona and Grand Canyon University are proud to announce Verizon as a supporting partner our Computer Science Code.org Regional Partnership Program, as we bring CS/Coding to teachers and students all across Arizona! To see more on Verizon's efforts to support STEM and CS, see:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eeYYb0U7cJ0

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"ENGINEERING NEW LEADERSHIP IN STEM TEACHING: ENLIST 2.0”

Posted By Mollie O'Reilly, Monday, June 12, 2017

WHAT DO COMMUNITY STEM CENTERS LOOK LIKE, AND MORE IMPORTANTLY, WHAT DO THEY DO?

 FOR MORE INFORMATION GO TO - http://stem.sfaz.org/page/teammentor

 What’s new and exciting in STEM Mentoring? Glad you asked!

Three (3) STEM community HUB projects, in Flagstaff, Phoenix, and Sierra Vista, are collaborating and are planning to launch the new school year with an event in Sierra Vista. This will be an engaging day for STEM teachers and leaders that is expected to mirror the successful community HUB leadership projects held previously in Flagstaff (2016) and Phoenix (2015 and 2014).  (For more information refer to the blog of October 23rd, Mentors and Mentoring: Giving Voice to STEM )

The goal and focus of the Sierra Vista event is to bring STEM rural communities to the attention of those who need to know what’s happening, especially government and industry, academe and philanthropy – agents and agencies that can make a difference.

The day will include a discussion on a novel interim assessment protocol for ENLIST with a plan to test, the focus of which is the focus of which is the active mentoring of students and faculty within the framework of a STEM Hub. ENLIST partners Arizona State University (ASU) and Rio Salado Community College (RSC) are the proposed pilot test sites.

In addition to which a field demonstration of CISCO Telepresence is planned to test virtually connecting classrooms and institutions globally in real time that can be a blended model of STEM instruction for all of rural Arizona… led by Sierra Vista, reaching out into and beyond its community. Nice!

For more information contact: Dr. Len Fine – lfine@sfaz.org

 Finally, thank you to Arizona Community Foundation (ACF) from all the ENLIST partners for your continuing support of the ENLIST program, a STEM Communities Project.

In attached photo  you will see - The 3rd Annual Flagstaff Community STEM Celebration brought together members from the community, businesses, parents and students all in celebration of STEM. Flagstaff is the first recognized "STEM City” in the nation.

 

 Attached Thumbnails:

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SFAz's Community College Network Provides Grant Support of Hispanic Serving Community Colleges

Posted By Linda Coyle, Friday, June 9, 2017

L.A. Mission College Receives $200K NSF Grant to Boost Biotech Program

Dr. Parvaneh Mohammadian, Principal Investigator

Los Angeles Mission College was recently awarded a $200K ATE grant from National Science Foundation,DUE-1700152.  The success of this grant award is an outcome of working collaboratively with Science Foundation Arizona through the KickStarter Process, under National Science Foundation Grant No. HRD-1450661.  See also the LAMC press release

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Adding CS "unplugged" to your summer fun!

Posted By Linda Coyle, Thursday, June 8, 2017

Introducing Computer Science Unplugged

Have you thought about adding some Computer Science to summer fun, but were unsure how to do it?  Introduce your summer school kids, or your own children to CS Unplugged:

http://csunplugged.org/


CS Unplugged is a collection of free learning activities that teach Computer Science through engaging games and puzzles that use cards, string, crayons and lots of running around. The activities introduce students to underlying concepts such as binary numbers, algorithms and data compression, separated from the distractions and technical details we usually see with computers. CS Unplugged is suitable for people of all ages, from elementary school to seniors, and from many countries and backgrounds. Unplugged has been used around the world for over twenty years, in classrooms, science centers, homes, and even for holiday events in a park!

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Great Science Training for Educators!

Posted By Linda Coyle, Wednesday, May 31, 2017
Have you heard the news?  AZ is reviewing the Science Standards.  What does that mean?  
 
It means that the committee members are reviewing the current research on science education to design new standards. 
 
Are you familiar with the research that the committee is using??  Have you heard about A Framework for K-12 Science Education?  3-Dimensional Instruction? Phenomena?  Big Ideas?  Learning Progressions?
 
Do you want to know how they all connect?  Are you interested in learning how to teach science with the 3-dimensions?  Are you looking for support?  
 
 
Eastern Arizona College
1 day face-to-face workshop
4 webinars
 
15 CEUs*
Receive a copy of A Framework for K-12 Science Education 
OR
A Vision and Plan for Science Teaching & Learning
 
Through a one-day workshop and 4 webinars, ASTA in partnership with ADE will help you connect the dots and develop lessons that intertwine the 3-dimensions as proposed in A Framework for K-12 Science Education.  Participants will earn 15 CEUs and have the option to participate in online discussion to earn an additional 5 CEUs.
 
The 1 day workshop will be taking place on Friday, June 9th, 9 am - 4 pm at Eastern Arizona College, Thatcher AZ.  Click here for registration.
Attend and participate in 4 online meetings  (Adobe Connect, 7:30 p.m. 1.5 hours):
Thursday, June 15
ThursdayJune 22
ThursdayJune 29
ThursdayJuly 6
 

* Can earn up to 20 CEUs by participating in online discussions

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2017 STEM "Vital Signs" are out for Arizona

Posted By Linda Coyle, Saturday, May 20, 2017

Change the Equation posts new Vital Signs for Arizona STEM 

Business leaders in Arizona cannot find the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) talent they need to stay competitive. Students' lagging performance in K-12 is a critical reason why. The good news is that the nation's most effective STEM education programs can help turn the tide.

Arizona students have already made real progress in math over the past decade. Yet not enough Arizona students, least of all minorities, have the chance to learn challenging content to prepare them for college and careers, and math and science teachers say they lack the resources they need. In addition, science does not yet seem to be a priority in Arizona. Students spend little time on science in elementary grades. 

For the detailed report go to: http://vitalsigns.changetheequation.org/state/Arizona/overview


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Apply to pilot test Engineering Everywhere

Posted By Linda Coyle, Thursday, April 20, 2017

Apply to pilot test Engineering Everywhere

Do you want to help us develop our newest Engineering Everywhere units? Apply to become a pilot educator this summer!

We are pilot testing two units:

  1. Testing the Waters: Engineering a Water Reuse Process: Youth investigate water quality and filtering technologies to engineer a process to reuse water in an extreme environment. 
  1. Worlds Apart: Engineering Remote Sensing Devices: Youth design remote sensing devices to gather data about a mystery moon for scientist partners.

As a pilot educator, you will:

  • receive an educator guide and materials needed to complete the hands-on activities for up to 24 youth
  • complete approximately eight activities with middle-school-aged youth in summer camp by August 28th, 2017
  • administer assessments to the youth in your summer camp to help us understand how the unit impacts their attitudes about engineering
  • earn a stipend as thanks for your participation
  • MA-only: Attend a focus group at the Museum of Science, Boston on August 28th
  • AZ-only: Attend a focus group at Northern Arizona University, date TBD

To qualify, fill out the application by Friday, May 5th at 5 PM!

http://info.eie.org/ee-pilot-application?hs_preview=ozYtkCCA-4279178264

For additional information, contact:

Joelle Clarkjoelle.clark@nau.edu
 
Joelle Clark's profile photo
 
 

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UA Engineering Design Day: The Next Big Thing, 100 Times Over

Posted By Linda Coyle, Wednesday, April 12, 2017

UA Engineering Design Day: The Next Big Thing, 100 Times Over

Senior projects for 2017 include an exoskeleton to help a student walk, tree-pollinating drones and drone destroyers, and a robotic umpire who can’t be disputed. Catch all the action on May 1.

Engineering affects virtually every aspect of our lives, and at the University of Arizona’s Engineering Design Day on May 1, more than 500 students intend to prove it.

"Engineering Design Day is our biggest event; there’s nothing else like it,” said College of Engineering Dean Jeff Goldberg. "It is the ultimate proving ground for our students and a unique opportunity for employers to see on a grand scale what our students, with industry and faculty partners, can achieve.”

People of all interests, abilities and ages will marvel at the 100-plus tools and technologies to improve health, safety and national security; boost cost- and energy-efficiency and worker productivity; mine big data and manage big mines; strengthen and secure communication networks; and make faster, lighter and smarter planes, trains, self-driving cars and rockets. Some projects are designed to save lives, others to save time and money. 

The public is invited to see the displays in the Student Union Memorial Center Grand Ballroom and on the UA Mall from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m., and to attend the awards ceremony in the ballroom from 4 to 5:30 p.m., when industry sponsors will present more than $25,000 in cash prizes to project teams.

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