Development of a Computer Engineering Research Environment at UPR-Mayagüez (NSF Grant CDA-9417659)

The school of engineering at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez (UPRM) is a leader in minority education. It awards the highest number of engineering degrees to underrepresented ethnic minorities in the nation. Women make up over 31% of our engineering enrollment, versus the national average of 16%. In addition, the total number of students in engineering at UPRM is among the highest in the nation. It has a long tradition of quality, starting with very selective admission criteria, and continuing with an intensive five-year program with much individual attention, high academic standards, and finally graduating students who compete very successfully for industrial employment and graduate school admission and fellowships. Computer engineering is its newest program, but a firmly established one with the highest admission requirements of any in the University system; thus it provides quality rather than simply quantity.

The ECE Department received a CISE II-MI grant to enhance the academic and research activities for the Computer Engineering Program. This grant, for the years 1989 to 1994, was very successful. With this grant we were able to: establish a successful undergraduate research program; build a departmental network; create three instructional laboratories and three research laboratories; prepare a proposal for a Master Program in Computer Engineering; produce 26 refereed publications, 17 technical reports and over 150 technical presentations and posters; get ABET accreditation of the program (expected during summer 1994); increase yearly enrollment from 40 to 100 students; attract equipment donations in excess of $1,000,000.

The effect of our   undergraduate research program   in encouraging minority participation has been significant. Two-thirds of the students who participated are pursuing graduate studies. Remarkably, 39% of those who went to graduate school have continued studies toward the Ph.D., in doctoral programs at MIT, Columbia, RPI, Michigan, Texas A&M, Maryland, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech. Even more significantly, women are 43% of the students who went to graduate school and 33% of the Ph.D. candidates.

The major goal of this proposal is to develop the research environment needed to start a Ph.D. program in Computer Engineering and to increase minority participation in graduate school and research. To maintain an excellent research environment and to accomplish the CISE II-MI program's goal of increasing minority participation we propose the following: create a proposal, during the first two years, to establish a Ph.D. program in collaboration with the Math Departments of the Río Piedras and Mayagüez Campus; establish a plan to retain and increase minority participation; conduct research and establish a productivity plan for researchers; establish a plan for faculty development; acquire new research equipment; establish a Computer Engineering Center to administer and coordinate the proposed activities .

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