A National Commitment to Post-Graduate Education in Information Technology

Authors: Jan Cuny, Andrea Danyluk, and Holly Rushmeier


Information technology (IT) refers to the full range of computing technologies and the people that work with them. IT itself is among the world’s fastest-growing economic sectors, and is an integral part of most other sectors. Rapid growth and demand for IT services have led to critical workforce shortages. Efforts to address these shortages have largely focused on K–12 and college education while ignoring the post-graduate population. This is a critical error. The post-graduate population is a valuable potential source of high-skilled tech talent and diversity. Many individuals with computing-related degrees would benefit from updates to their training, while individuals with expertise in other areas increasingly stand to benefit from adding IT competencies to their existing skills. Expanding post-graduate education and training opportunities would give current employees additional avenues for advancement, while also offering displaced workers ways to reenter the job market with a new set of skills. Such opportunities would also help employers quickly meet workforce needs, enabling the IT sector to become more dynamic, agile, productive, and innovative.

The Biden-Harris Administration should make a substantial investment in post-graduate opportunities that enable college graduates from a range of disciplines to build or upgrade their computational skills. These opportunities could include everything from business-to-business (B2B) short-term classes to update computational skills, to Master of Science (MS) degree programs that don’t require prior computer-science experience, to research and mentoring experiences that prepare students for Ph.D. studies. When implemented at scale, such opportunities will enable our nation to address pressing IT talent shortages while empowering Americans of all backgrounds to participate in—and benefit from—the IT economy. Note: An initial version of this document was posted as a Widening Participation Quadrennial Paper. Citation: Cuny, J.; Danyluk, A.; Rushmeier, H. (2020). Fostering a Post-Graduate Tech Boom. Computing Research Association.

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About the Authors

Jan Cuny is Director of DEI at the University of Washington’s Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering. She held academic CS positions at Purdue, and the Universities of Massachusetts and Oregon. In 2004, she joined the National Science Foundation, leading their efforts on broadening participation and education in CS – work that led to the establishment of national BPC Alliances and the national K-12 CSforAll movement. For efforts with underserved populations, Jan’s received CRA’s A. Nico Habermann Award, AnitaB’s Woman of Vision Award for Social Impact, NSF’s Distinguished Service Award, SIGCSE’s Distinguished Educator Award and ACM’s Distinguished Service Award.

Andrea Danyluk is a Professor of Computer Science at Williams College. Danyluk works in three distinct areas: machine learning research; computing education; diversity, equity, and inclusion. Her machine learning research has been motivated by a variety of applications, from telecommunications to ecology. Her recent curricular work includes co-Chairing the ACM Data Science Task Force. Danyluk is co-Chair of the Computing Research Association’s Committee on Widening Participation in Computing Research. Danyluk was Northeastern University’s inaugural Global Director of Align, a Master’s in Computer Science designed to bring a diversity of thought, background, race, and gender to the field of computing.

Holly Rushmeier is the John C. Malone Professor of Computer Science at Yale University. She received the BS, MS and PhD degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Cornell University in 1977, 1986 and 1988 respectively. Prior to Yale she was an assistant professor at Georgia Tech, a computer scientist at the US National Institute of Science and Technology, and a research staff member at IBM Watson Research. Her principal area of research is computer graphics. She received the ACM SIGGRAPH Computer Graphics Achievement award in 2013, and is an ACM fellow.