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Broadening Participation Plan

Terri Long et al.

AI2EAR’s international Network-of-Networks is providing unique learning experiences ideal for cross-training a diverse and interdisciplinary population of students and postdocs in convergence science. Our objectives for broadening participation are to i) train talented and diverse students and postdocs and ii) create a thriving, inclusive research and mentoring environment for diverse students, faculty and staff. 

During the catalytic phase and specifically at the kick-off meeting and Fall 2021 workshop, we are identifying effective programs that support a sustained culture of inclusivity including recruitment, attrition and retention programs. Across AI2EAR, we anticipate many successful programs and models that can be incorporated into our overall plans for broadening participation. These efforts will be led and advanced by the Broadening Participation Director, Dr. Terri Long. AI2EAR will actively connect to and engage talented URM students, as well as students from rural areas, community colleges, veterans, low-income and first-generation college students from Minority Serving Institution (MSIs) and community colleges by leveraging existing relationships of each member network. For example, AI2EAR will include the ACCESS Network: Autonomous Cooperative Control of Emergent Systems of Systems (ACCESS) Laboratory, NC A&T State University, and MSI and AI2EAR networks. Another example, AI2EAR will actively engage the NC State’s Military and Veterans Services and North Carolina’s Community College System, as well as nearby MSIs to ensure their faculty and students’ awareness of research and recruiting opportunities available through AI2EAR. We will collaborate with similar programs at other AI2EAR institutions such as The Summer School program at Sirius, which is aimed at university students from Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Community of Scholars Program at the University of Minnesota (AMP RCN), which provides Native American graduate students and other URM students with travel grants, workshops, writing initiatives, and community events. 

Effective mentoring is essential for the success of students from URM groups. AI2EAR graduate students and postdocs, especially those from URM groups and veterans, will be paired with at least one faculty mentor from a network outside of their home institution network. This faculty mentor, who will video chat with the student at least once a semester, can act as a career coach and advocate for the overall success of the student outside of their graduate committee. Additionally, during the catalytic phase of our network-of-networks, we will explore starting an AI2EAR Graduate Bridge Program. Network partners will work together to explore establishing a 6-week summer research program that will be organized in collaboration with the NC State’s LSAMP Bridge to the Doctorate Program model in which students are welcomed to campus with summer orientation, which addresses the transition from undergraduate to graduate education and builds a community with other minority graduate student organizations. This program gives students, particularly those coming from MSIs and community colleges an early start on research, thus accelerating the sharing of strategies and AI models. 

Faculty, postdocs and students, particularly those from URM groups, of AI2EAR will present their research at meetings of societies that support URM groups such as ABRCMS, SACNAS, and MANRRS. At these meetings, participants of AI2EAR network to networks will share results from workshops and surveys about the need for a common language or protocols that allow engineers and computer scientists to communicate effectively with the biologist and economist. To continue building relationships and recruitment networks we will also organize MSI Undergraduate Institution Seminar Series in which AI2EAR graduate students and postdocs will give seminars and panels at MSIs that neighbors their home institutions to discuss their research and personal experiences of graduate school. In exchange Faculty and postdocs from these MSIs will also be invited to give AI2EAR research seminars. Students, postdocs, faculty and staff located at NC State will also participate in the annual NCSU Diversity in STEM Symposium, research and mentoring symposium focused on diversity in STEM, and paralogous programs run at AI2EAR networks. In addition, as part of the AI2EAR research seminar series, the NCSU Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity (OIED) will provide a Broadening Participation Workshop each year designed to build relationships through understanding, as well as in-person and online training options for conducting equitable and inclusive hiring processes at all levels. All of these will be available by webinar, recorded and made available afterward.

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