Oct 24, 2008

Funding Success in Computer Science




The continuous success in receiving substantial research funding has moved the Department of Computer Science a big step towards top-tier research status. Faculty in the department have received 15 grants so far in 2008, totaling over $10 million. This is the all time high in external funding for the Department of Computer Science, despite a very competitive environment with extremely low funding rates of 10%-20% for federal research grants. Nearly half of the grants are funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) with a wide range of topics including, high performance computing, computer and information security, and wireless networks. With this record year the Department of Computer Science continues its rapid ascend in securing external grant funding, even surpassing its vast success in 2007 .

The current level of competitive research funding provides a testament to the quality of research conducted, and to the national and international recognition of the department. Carola Wenk, Associate Professor and Communications Director in the Department of Computer Science, states that "The immense success of attracting competitive research funding has multiple additional benefits, including opportunities for conducting new research projects, recruiting new faculty, and supporting more Ph.D. students."

Recently, Qing Yi, Assistant Professor of Computer Science, received a prestigious NSF CAREER award for her work "to develop a multilayer code synthesis framework that will improve the correctness and performance of software." A CAREER award is the NSF's most prestigious award for junior faculty and is awarded to faculty members who embody the role of teacher-scholar by integrating outstanding research with excellence as an educator within the context of their institution. Qing Yi was the third NSF CAREER award winner in the Department of Computer Science in the last three years. The previous recipients were Carola Wenk in 2007 and Daniel Jimenez in 2006. 

In the Department of Computer Science, students of all levels participate in research with faculty on a regular basis. NSF grants often include support for undergraduate student research, which the department values as important. Undergraduate involvement in conducting research gives students experience and motivation to continue the research on a graduate and post-graduate level. In the Department of Computer Science, all Ph.D. students are 100% financially supported, most of them by external grants. Wenk proudly states that "Alumni of our Ph.D. program now work as faculty or as independent researchers in academia or industry. Also our undergraduates have landed high paying jobs at top companies, such as IBM, Microsoft, Google, Cisco, Dell, Hewlett Packard, AT&T, Rackspace, USAA and Southwest Research Institute; some starting at salaries 20%-40% over the national average."

Funding has allowed the department to grow substantially, in terms of faculty, graduate students, research areas and course offerings. The department recently added two new concentrations in Software Engineering and in Computer and Information Security, both on the undergraduate and master's levels. New computer classrooms and laboratories provide a state-of-the-art infrastructure for education and research.

With this year's performance and growth, even more students will realize the innovative research conducted and opportunities available in Computer Science at UTSA. The next few years hold great potential for both faculty and students in the Department of Computer Science to continue to shine in national and international arenas.

The article on UTSA Today: UTSA Research: Growing computer science funding reaps rewards for students, faculty, university!