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Facebook, Intel Back Effort to Lift Engineer Diversity

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Credit: PRI

Rectifying a lack of diversity among computer science undergraduates is the goal of the Building Recruiting and Inclusion for Diversity (BRAID) program, an effort in which several companies, including Facebook, Intel, Google, and Microsoft, will contribute $1.35 million over the next three years to 15 universities' computer science departments.

Harvey Mudd College president Maria Klawe and Anita Borg Institute CEO Telle Whitney will lead BRAID, and Klawe says she aims to prove that any department can successfully direct women and minorities into computer science. She emphasizes methods used at Harvey Mudd that have boosted the appeal of computer science among female students. For example, computer science professors frequently call newly accepted students, who also are required to take an introductory course that focuses more on fun and teamwork than on previous knowledge.

In addition, BRAID-participating schools will supply data for a study on the best practices for attracting and retaining female, black, and Hispanic computer science students. Among the colleges involved in BRAID are Villanova University, the New Jersey Institute of Technology, the University of Illinois in Chicago, and the University of Nebraska.

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