Microsoft Research - NCWIT Academic Alliance

Award Date: January 2012


Nicholas Webb, Visiting Assistant Professor of Computer Science, has been awarded a $10,000 grant through the Microsoft Research -- National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) Academic Alliance Seed Fund Award program.  The purpose of these start-up funds is to develop and implement initiatives for recruiting women and under-represented populations in computing and information technology.  Since 2007, NCWIT and Microsoft Research have awarded $365,450 in funding to 29 universities and colleges. This round of the NCWIT Academic Alliance Seed Fund will provide $10,000 each to five U.S. institutions:  Union College, Claremont Graduate College, Fisk University, the University of Central Arkansas, and the University of Virginia.


Dr. Webb will lead Union’s proposal to pilot a social robotics outreach workshop in which female computing undergraduates serve as mentors and educators for middle and high school girls.  This project builds upon an existing middle- and high-school outreach program at the University at Albany.  The Union project “Peer-Led Mentoring and Instruction through the Social Robotics Workshop” is focused on two main areas: 1) extending the Social Robotics Workshop to Union by leverage its tradition of community outreach (such as the STEP program), including established connections to area high schools; and 2) using the workshop to recruit and train current students to act as instructors and mentors for the workshop going forward, from both the University at Albany and Union College.