BRAID helps CS diversity efforts

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Over the last few years, UIC’s Department of Computer Science has increased the percentage of women and underrepresented minority students enrolled in its undergraduate computing courses with the help of the BRAID program.

The BRAID program, which stands for Building, Recruiting, And Inclusion for Diversity, aims to improve diversity of computing talent in schools and at a professional level. The CS Department has been a part of the initiative since its inception in 2014.

Each of the current 15 BRAID schools are required to address specific commitments:

  • Modify introductory CS courses to make them more appealing and less intimidating to underrepresented students.
  • Lead outreach programs for high school teachers and students to build a diverse pipeline of students.
  • Build confidence and community among underrepresented students.
  • Develop and/or promote joint majors in areas like CS and biology that are attractive to underrepresented students.
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The Department of Computer Science has addressed these commitments by:

  • Introducing three sections of CS 111 with interest areas including biology, law, and multimedia.
  • Collaborating with local high school teachers to help raise awareness of CS as a major in college.
  • Investing resources into Women in Computer Science, Girls Who Code, and Hour of Code and targeting underrepresented populations in CS for Fall 2018 recruiting.
  • Developing and promoting joint majors in new areas like bioinformatics.

This large effort has been led by Robert Sloan whose focus has been on promoting diversity within the department, a goal that the CS Department will continue to nurture as it expands into the future.