Connecting Computing Research with National Priorities

flattened globe superimposed over schematic of computer network

Guest post by Mark D. Hill from the Computing Community Consortium and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The content originally appeared in The CCC Blog on January 23, 2018. It is reprinted with permission.

symposium panelists sit at a table
Jim Kurose talks to the audience about CS+X.

For weeks [The CCC Blog has] been recapping the Computing Community Consortium (CCC) Symposium from the perspective of the researchers and industry representatives who presented their work on each panel.

This week, we are getting a different perspective. The goal of the final panel, called Connecting Computing Research with National Priorities and moderated by CCC Vice Chair Mark D. Hill, was to get a perspective from people who have or are currently serving in government.

The panelists included:

  • Will Barkis, from Orange Silicon Valley, shared a Silicon Valley perspective and called for increasing investment in basic research and development to benefit society as well as support innovation in industry. He emphasized that collaboration between academia, the public sector, and the private sector is critical for long-term impact.
  • Patti Brennan, from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), talked about a number of healthcare issues in the country that we need to be aware of and start addressing, such as the accelerated mental health crisis. If we develop computational services and fine-grained access control we might be able to address some of these issues sooner rather than later.
  • Jim Kurose, from the National Science Foundation (NSF), discussed smart and connected communities and how it serves people in their communities. He also highlighted the importance of interdisciplinary work and gave the example of biologists and computer scientists coming together in the field of bioinformatics.
  • Bill Regli, from Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), explained the Heilmeier Catechism. George H. Heilmeier, a former DARPA director, crafted a set of questions to help Agency officials think through and evaluate proposed research programs.
symposium panelists sit at a table
Bill Regli explains the DARPA Heilmeier Catechism.

During the Q&A session, one audience member asked if we should have computational specialists in all science fields since many are becoming more interdisciplinary. Dr. Brennan said that if we put computation in all fields then we run the risk of losing its impact. She does think that some of the training programs are a start, but it takes time for it to run smoothly enough. Dr. Kurose praised a number of CS+X programs around the country. These programs are trying to reach out to a different set of students who are interested in computing but are currently in other disciplines. They understand that if they take computational classes in their discipline only more doors will open.

To read all the recaps from each panel, see below:

Intelligent Infrastructure for our Cities and Communities

AI and Amplifying Human Abilities

Security and Privacy for Democracy

Data, Algorithms, and Fairness Panel

See the videos from all panels here.

headshot of Mark HillMark D. Hill is the Computing Community Consortium (CCC) Vice Chair and the John P. Morgridge Professor and Gene M. Amdahl Professor of Computer Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.