Skip to Main Content

SCS DEI Update

Jun. 11, 2021


In this month of Pride, SCS wants you to know that all are welcome and safe here. SCS is an inclusive community for all people, including members of the LGBQT+ community.

We also acknowledge two national events this week: Juneteenth, celebrating the freedom of African Americans from slavery in the United States, and the five year anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando.

We invite you to join us for a virtual event from 4 to 5 p.m. on Thursday, June 17, to kick off a weekend of engagement in Pittsburgh. CMU will host a panel discussion titled "Juneteenth: Its Meaning, Significance and Why We Should Celebrate It." Pitt also has a series of events planned to bring the campus communities together.

SCS’s DEI Office is excited to announce its internal team:

  • Rachel Burcin, Global Programs Manager, RI
  • Jodi Forlizzi, Professor, HCII, and SCS Associate Dean of DEI 
  • Jenn Landefeld, SCS Doctoral Programs Manager
  • Geoff Kaufman, Associate Professor, HCII
  • Ashley Patton, Director, CS Pathway Programs

In the next few months, we will be adding an administrator and an executive director to our team. We are excited to be serving the SCS community!

SCS is excited to announce that the following programs will have GEM fellows joining us in the fall. This is a result of the hard work of many individuals. We would like to thank Shawn Blanton, interim associate provost for DEI, for running a fall GEM session for our students. We also want to acknowledge the hard work of faculty and staff in SCS who work with our master’s and doctoral programs. Several units and groups hosted additional mentoring meetings and social gatherings, which helped us to reach this outcome. There is much to be done, but we are happy to report GEM fellows in the following programs:

  • M.S. in Computational Biology
  • M.S. in Automated Science: Biological Experimentation
  • M.S. in Computer Science
  • M.S. Technology and Applied Learning Science (METALS)
  • M.S. in Human-Computer Interaction
  • M.S. in Information Technology - Privacy Engineering
  • M.S. in Artificial Intelligence and Innovation
  • M.S. in Robotics
  • Ph.D. in Human-Computer Interaction
  • Ph.D. in Societal Computing
  • Ph.D. in Robotics

We welcome all incoming students, and especially our GEM Fellows!

What We're Doing

We have been focused on reinstating events that we could not realize last year, due to the pandemic. These include:

  • OurCS: a three-day workshop for undergraduates in computer science, focused on improving gender balance in computing research. Attendees explored research experiences by working in a hands-on fashion with CMU researchers and in documenting their work in the form of a poster. They also learned about possibilities for graduate study and the application process. Over the next few weeks, we will be seeking volunteers to work with participants at this year’s event.
  • TechNights: a program to expand diversity of interest in computing among middle school students. In 2020, this program was delivered through a series of YouTube videos. This year, we hope to run events in person. If you are interested in assisting or delivering a lesson, let us know.

On the Radar: DEI Efforts in Our Local Communities

In the wake of Black Lives Matter, organizations around the world are putting new emphasis on diversity — increasing diversity in the ranks, implementing bias training and attempting to lift marginalized voices. While these are logical, if not convenient, steps, SCS has undertaken some deeper thinking about how we might increase diversity.

To this end, we realize that we need to make an impact beyond campus boundaries in our DEI efforts. One of SCS’s goals is to create supportive, empowering and strategic relationships with our local Pittsburgh community.

Across SCS, a number of stakeholders have already put forth efforts that have yielded impactful relationships. For example:

Community Forge is an inclusive community center in Wilkinsburg dedicated to building an equitable economy for our region. Students and faculty at CMU have partnered with individuals and businesses within Community Forge to share knowledge, build community programs, and help people achieve their career goals. Learn more about Michael Skirpan, one of the founders of Community Forge and special faculty in CyLab, in this video

Boys and Girls Club of Western PA has been improving the lives of youth in the community for over 130 years. They have also sustained a number of community partnerships in communities including Brookline, Clairton, the Hill District, Homewood, Larimer and the North Side. In SCS, the AI Pathways Institute was created to enrich the work of the Boys and Girls Club and to foster interest in robotics.

We need to be careful to not just simplify our relationships with these communities to ones where we study community stakeholders as research subjects. If you are working on community outreach efforts, or have ideas about how to increase interaction, send us an email.