PIs: Miguel A Labrador and Rafael Perez Institution: University of South Florida

The primary goal of this REU site is the systematic increase of the graduation rate of undergraduate students as well as the enrollment numbers in graduate school in Computer Science and Engineering. To accomplish this goal, during a 10-week summer session, this REU site offers participating students with state-of-the-art research projects from a wide variety of disciplines in CS&E, including Computer Networks, Data Bases, Data Mining, AI, Digital Image Processing, Pattern Recognition, Location-based Services, Robotics, Software Verification, Security, Distributed Systems, and VLSI design. The program also includes other academic and social activities that provide students with a well-rounded experience and education. Additional and unique components of this REU site are the financial support to bring at least one student from a Latin American country every year, the involvement of graduate students in the organization and mentorship processes of the site, and the financial support to extend the REU experience to a limited number of students through the academic year after their summer REU experience. The program emphasizes the enrollment of minority students belonging to groups with significant national population growth rates coming from 4-year universities as well as community colleges. More information about the site as well as past schedules, activities, publications and projects can be found at www.csee.usf.edu/REU.

Project Report

The main goal of this Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Site project was the systematic increase of the graduation rate of undergraduate students as well as their enrollment in graduate programs in computer science, with an emphasis on students belonging to under-represented groups with significant national population growth rates. This main goal was based upon the very low graduation and enrollment rates in computer science programs and the importance of this field to maintain the competitiveness and leadership of the United States in technology and productivity. The main intervention utilized in this project to achieve the desired goal is the involvement of undergraduate students in intensive, research-based summer programs. It has been shown that research activities engage students in their fields of study, improve retention and graduation rates, and also increase recruitment into graduate programs. In addition to pure technical research activities, during the summer programs the participants received a well-rounded educational experience that also helped them with their inter-personal and communication skills, all good abilities to successfully handle a job, or pursue advanced degrees in computer science. With funding to involve 10 participants per year, this project leveraged other resources and provided research opportunities to 48 students during the 3-year grant period (2008-2010). Among the most important results and facts of the program were the following: The program was very competitive. A total of 188 applications were received, i.e., only the best 25% of the applicants were accepted. Professors mentored a total of 43 different research projects. The program was a very enriching experience. It provided students with projects and research information about many computer science disciplines including robotics, image processing, pattern recognition, artificial intelligence, networks, location-based services, transportation, ubiquitous sensing, energy-efficient algorithms, databases, distributed systems, and bioinformatics. Students made many research contributions. Thirteen technical works were published and presented in journals and technical conferences with the collaborations of the students’ work. Of the 48 students who participated in the program, 20 students already finished their undergraduate degrees and 28 are still working on them. Three students enrolled in doctoral programs and 10 students are pursuing MS degrees. The program was very successful involving students from under-represented minority groups. Of the 48 students who participated in the program, 25% were female, 54% were Hispanics, and 10% African Americans.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Information and Intelligent Systems (IIS)
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Todd Leen
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University of South Florida
United States
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