This project supports the travel of US doctoral student researchers to the premier international conference on autonomous agents and multi-agent systems and their participation in the Doctoral Mentoring Consortium held in conjunction with it. The International Joint Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multi-Agent Systems (AAMAS 2011) will be held in Taipei, Taiwan, May 2-6, 2011. All students awarded stipends will participate in a Doctoral Mentoring Consortium in which they will present their research to other student researchers and receive in-depth feedback from a group of senior researchers. Travel stipends will be awarded through an application process that requires that students be full-time students and that they be explicitly listed as an author of an accepted paper. The AAMAS conference provides these students with a platform to present their research results and allows them to participate in valuable discussions that will likely shape the future of this critically important field. The technical program is complemented with an array of workshops, tutorials and other events. The wide variety and significance of the topics typically presented at AAMAS, in both the technical program and the workshop program, provides opportunities for students to share, exchange and learn from each other.

Project Report

The 2011 Doctoral Mentoring Consortium at the Tenth International Joint Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multi-agent Systems (AAMAS-11) took place on May 3, 2011 in Taipei, Taiwan. It was scheduled on the second day of tutorials and workshops, which took place on May 2 and 3, and before the main conference, which took place on May 4–6. The May 3 date was chosen to help maximize attendance (by not requiring students to arrive a day before the workshops and tutorials, as was done in the past), while still providing information to help the students prepare for the main conference. The doctoral mentoring consortium involved 35 students from around the world, with US students particularly well represented thanks to the support from NSF. AAMAS is the main international conference in the area of agent and multi-agent systems. The AAMAS conference series started in 2002 as a merger of three highly respected individual conferences (ICMAS, AGENTS, and ATAL). The aim of the joint conference is to provide a single, high-profile forum for research in the theory and practice of autonomous agents and multiagent systems. Each AAMAS conference has continued the tradition of high- quality submissions and enthusiastic participation of leading researchers and practitioners from around the world. In 2011, there were 575 full paper submissions, out of which 127 (22.1%) were selected as full papers and an additional 131 as extended abstracts. The conference also featured strong tutorial and workshop programs, as well as an industry track and a demonstrations program. Activities at the 2011 Doctoral Mentoring Consortium included the following: • talks on career decisions made by senior PhD students and recent doctoral recipients; • oral research presentations by fourteen students; • a panel organized to provide research vignettes from established researchers; • a poster session; • a group lunch; and • a mentoring program pairing professors with students, based on their research interests. Students provided a number of suggestions about how to improve next year’s doctoral consortium, including the following. • An important outcome of the doctoral mentoring consortium was instilling the students with a sense that there are concrete actionable items that they can take to explore their future career options. • Speakers at this year’s doctoral consortium were primarily from academia. This was due in part to the composition of the conference — many more academics attended the Taiwan conference than those from industry. However, we believe that students would benefit from a broader range of mentors. Several students suggested that some speakers come from industry, and from start-ups in particular. • Based on feedback from previous years, a significant amount of time was allocated for student interaction, in order to help students develop connections with peers in thecommunity. Developing such community is particularly important for students who had not previously attended an AAMAS conference (or, in some cases, any interna- tional conference). Several students suggested that additional time be devoted to such activities. Future consortiums will need to carefully consider the balance between for- mal and informal times in order to maximize both developing a sense of community and providing concrete mentoring activities.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Information and Intelligent Systems (IIS)
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Edwina L. Rissland
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Lafayette College
United States
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