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Visualization: A Conduit for Collaborative Undergraduate Research Experiences

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Curricular Issues in Computing and Information Technology Programs II

Tagged Division

Computing & Information Technology

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Paper Authors


Vetria L. Byrd Ph.D. Purdue University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Vetria Byrd is an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Graphics Technology in the Polytechnic Institute at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. Dr. Byrd is the founder and organizer of the biennial Broadening Participation in Visualization (BPViz) Workshop co-funded by The Committee on the Status of Women in Computing Research/Coalition to Diversify Computing (CRA-W/CDC) and the National Science Foundation (NSF). Dr. Byrd has given numerous invited talks and workshops on visualization including: XSEDE14 plenary address (featured in HPC Wire online magazine), and an invited presentation at The Banbury Center at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Dr. Byrd works with XSEDE to provide on campus training on scientific visualization. She was the Principal Investigator for the highly competitive NSF VisREU Site: Research Experience for Undergraduates in Collaborative Data Visualization Applications for 2014/2015 at Clemson University. Dr. Byrd continues to mentor VisREU research fellows as well as students at Purdue University. Dr. Byrd received her graduate and undergraduate degrees at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, in Birmingham, Alabama which include: Ph.D. in Computer and Information Sciences, Master’s degrees in Computer Science and Biomedical Engineering and a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. Dr. Byrd’s research interests include: data visualization, high performance visualization, big data, uncertainty visualization, collaborative visualization, broadening participation and inclusion.

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Camilo Vieira Purdue University, West Lafayette (College of Engineering) Orcid 16x16

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PhD Computational Science Education - Purdue University
Master of Engineering in Educational Technologies - Eafit University
Systems Engineer - Eafit University

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Evidence of the importance of visualization can be seen in the role visualization continues to play in informed decision making [1-4], data analysis [5], explanations of complex data sets [6-8], detection of trends and patterns [9], and storytelling [10-12]. The need to diversify a field with such far-reaching influence is imperative [13]. Visualization is the process of transforming raw, complex data into a visual representation that provides insight. In order to prepare the next generation of researchers and scientists to make transformative and innovative discoveries in a data-driven world, exposure to the process, tools and techniques of data visualization must begin early. Many students and some faculty are not aware of the data visualization process, the value of visualization, the purpose of visualization or the benefits of visualization in academia, research, and industry. The 2014/2015 NSF REU Site (Award 1359223) summer research experience for undergraduates in collaborative data visualization applications was designed to address this need. Goals of the program are to: (1) introduce data visualization at the undergraduate level, (2) strengthen student skills and capabilities in data visualization, (3) broaden participation in visualization among women, members of underrepresented groups and students from institutions with limited research infrastructure, and (4) encourage students to pursue graduate degrees in STEM. Visualization training is part of the core summer curriculum. Undergraduates, STEM and non-STEM majors, participate in the program. Results: The 2014/2015 program cumulatively recruited a total of 22 participants: 11 (50%) female, 11 (50%) male; 4 (18%) of participants were from historically black colleges or universities (HBCU), 1 (5%) from Hispanic serving institutions (HSI), 5 (23%) first-generation college students. Students were also recruited from institutions with limited research opportunities: 10 (45%) of the 2014/2015 cohort were from non-PhD granting institutions. The program provided diversity in content, projects and participant ethnicities: 6 (27%) African American, 1 (5%) Asian, 4 (18%) Hispanic/Latino, 1 (5%) Native American/American Indian, and 10 (45%). In 2014 the program received 26 applications. In 2015 the program received 205 applications for 10 slots. The program included multidisciplinary research projects in computer science, engineering, genetics and biochemistry, sociology, molecular modeling and simulation, inorganic chemistry, and athletics. Students participating in the summer program reported majoring in engineering, computational biology, computer science, engineering, mathematics, and information systems. The combined 2014/2015 cohorts reported: 21 accepted student conference poster presentations, 15 accepted student conference talks, and 55 student REU site presentations (including midterm, final presentations and presentations to incoming freshmen from underrepresented groups) about the summer program and their research. Conclusion: The demand for persons with data visualization skills will continue to grow as data continues to grow in volume, size and variety [14]. The increase in applicants for the summer program suggests there is growing interest in data visualization at the undergraduate level, across disciplines and among STEM and non-STEM majors. This paper provides an overview of the program, recruitment effort, outcomes and assessment.

Byrd, V. L., & Vieira, C. (2017, June), Visualization: A Conduit for Collaborative Undergraduate Research Experiences Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--29108

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