November 2017

CMD-IT: Diversity in Computing

Valerie Taylor

Jerri Barrett

Valerie Taylor, Executive Director, Center for Minorities and People with Disabilities in IT, Division Director, Mathematical and Computer Science, Argonne National Laboratories, & 
Jerri Barrett, Director of Social Media, CMD-IT

CMD-IT is the national Center for Minorities and People with Disabilities in Information Technology.  This 501c3 nonprofit is focused on the following under-represented groups: African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanics, Pacific Islanders, and People with Disabilities. CMD-IT’s mission is to ensure that under-represented groups are fully engaged in computing and information technologies, and to promote innovation that enriches, enhances, and enables these communities, such that more equitable and sustainable contributions are possible by all communities. CMD-IT is comprised of corporations, academic institutions, government agencies, and non-profits.  The organization provides programs that directly support the recruitment, retention  and advancement of underrepresented minorities and people with disabilities in computing.

CMD-IT is the presenter of the ACM Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing, its flagship program.  The annual Tapia Conference brings together undergraduate and graduate students, academics, researchers and industry professionals from all backgrounds and ethnicities.  The conference provides panels, workshops, birds of a feather sessions, a poster session, inspirational plenary speakers and a career fair with the goals of celebrating the diversity that exists in computing, creating connections and building networks, providing mentoring and inspiration.  The 2017 Career Fair featured over 92 sponsor companies and academic institutions. CMD-IT also presents the Student Professional Development Workshop at Tapia. This workshop focuses on providing students with information and coaching from industry professional on such topics as resume writing, interviewing skills, professionalism and networking.    The 2017 Tapia Conference was held in Atlanta, Georgia in September 2017.  The Tapia Conference had 1192 attendees including students and faculty members from over 250 academic institutions.  The 2018 Tapia Conference will be held in Orlando Florida, September 19-22, 2018. 

At the Tapia Celebration an individual who demonstrates significant leadership, commitment and contributions to diversifying computing is honored each year with the Richard A. Tapia Achievement Award for Scientific Scholarship, Civic Science and Diversifying Computing Award.  This award was presented to Dr. Manuel Pérez Quiñones, Associate Dean, College of Computing and Informatics Professor, Department of Software and Information Systems, University of North Carolina, Charlotte at the 2017 Tapia Conference.

CMD-IT has implemented a Virtual Teams program to bring together undergraduate students in computing from diverse programs to leverage each other’s experiences, and that of a mentor, to encourage completion of the undergraduate degree. Significant evidence indicates the need and importance of having peer-groups to provide the needed support for academic program completion. The Virtual Teams program draws from undergraduate students who attend the Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing Conference.

New in 2017, CMD-IT awarded the first 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 strong commitment to increasing the computer science baccalaureate degree production of minorities and students with disabilities, through effective retention programs. The 2017 University Award was sponsored by Microsoft, Inc.  The first University Award recipient was Georgia Tech, which was recognized for impressive retention and graduation rates as well as the measurable impact of their retention programs.

Each year, CMD-IT presents the Academic Career Workshop for Underrepresented Junior Faculty and Senior Graduate Students (ACW).  The goal of the ACW is to mentor under-represented assistant- and associate-level faculty and senior doctoral students about the academic career ladder. The workshop includes panels of diverse senior faculty talking about the tenure and promotion process, launching a research program, professionalism, and a detailed session on proposal writing. In addition, the workshop also includes a discussion about alternative career paths. Calls for submissions for the 2018 ACW will be opening in early 2018.


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