Encouraging URM students to continue on to Grad School

In April, the UW Reality Lab held a 2-day workshop designed to encourage and assist undergraduates – particularly those from Under Represented Minorities (URMs) – to continue on to graduate school in Computer Vision and Machine Learning.

"Graduate Reality Workshop, April 2021. Held by the UW Reality Lab

The “CV/ML Graduate School Prep Workshop” (also known by the shorter name, “Graduate Reality Workshop”) is a new workshop, and it gave attendees a chance to learn about grad school in several ways. Over the course of 2 days, the attendees:

  • Met with current UW CSE grad students and heard about their research
  • Chatted with those grad students in small groups about grad student life and how they got there
  • Worked on machine learning projects, at a level tailored to their existing experience
  • Received a lecture on Deep Learning from John Akers, UWRL Director of Research & Education
  • Heard presentations on the grad school application process by UW CSE Graduate Advisors Elise deGoede Dorough and Leslie Sessoms
  • Saw a panel presentation and discussion with current UW doctoral students from Under Represented Minorities (URMs)

Under-Represented Minorities continue on to graduate school at lower rates than their counterparts. Raising URM participation in graduate school would help diversity efforts for STEM and for society in general. (UW Allen School’s demographic and diversity statistics are here)

Elise deGoede Dorough

The original idea began with The UW Reality Lab’s John Akers and Ira Kemelmacher-Shlizerman, and Graduate Advisors Les and Elise were a huge help in designing and recruiting participants for this, the first time for this workshop.  The idea was to encourage undergrads to continue on at any university, and Les and Elise arranged for UW to waive the grad school application fee for any of the workshop attendees if they apply to UW CSE.

Attendees came from 8 colleges and universities and from 6 states.  Attendees identified as African American, Hispanic/Latino, Female, and as Native American/First Nations. And they noted these affiliations: National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), National Society of Blacks in Computing (NSBC), Echale STEM, McNair Scholars Program, UMBC Meyerhoff, WiSE, LSAMP.

Feedback was positive from attendees and presenters, and we’re looking forward to offering this again next year, either on line or in-person! If you want to hear when we announce future dates, contact us. And if you know of an organization that promotes URMs in STEM that could help us find attendees for future programs, let us know!

One team at the CV/ML Workshop