CMS Fosters One-on-one Relationships Between Faculty and Students

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The Computing and Mathematica Sciences Department at Caltech was featured in a recent Diversity/Careers in Engineering & Information Technology article entitled "Grad Programs help meet projected IT job growth".  

The article quotes CMS Director Mathieu Desbrun and Alumnus Jerome White:

Caltech fosters one-on-one relations with professors

At the California Institute of Technology (Caltech, Pasadena, CA), CS is part of the computing and mathematical sciences department in the division of engineering and applied science. Its PhD program in CS is small, with about thirty-five students, but Dr Mathieu Desbrun notes that the program and campus size mean that faculty is very accessible. "The students know all their professors," he says, "which is rare and makes for a very different style of graduate education." Close working relationships and interdisciplinary research are encouraged. Desbrun is a professor of computer science and director of the computing and mathematical sciences department. To attract minority and women applicants, Caltech sends grad school preview announcements to local undergrads and those across the U.S. "We want them to visit us and check us out," says Desbrun. The school is a silver sponsor of the Grace Hopper Conference and actively encourages area high school students to visit its campus. Ninety-nine percent of Caltech's CS grad students are fully funded with assistantships or fellowships. Special financial opportunities are also available to women and minorities.

Jerome White: PhD in CS at Caltech

"When I looked at careers using the CS skills I had, I felt that I had to get a PhD if I wanted to do research," says Jerome White, who got his PhD from Caltech early in 2011. White, who is African American, earned his 2003 BS/CS at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Troy, NY). As an undergrad, he got some research experience, but says he didn't understand the role research plays in grad school until he entered the program. "I wish I'd taken more theory classes as an undergrad," he says. Over the past seven years of study, White met a lot of people at Caltech. "The relationships I've made will last longer than my tenure at Caltech," he says. "I've now completed my grad career and have a lot of opportunities." White passes along advice to undergrads that his advisor gave him: "Choose your undergrad institution based on the name of the school; your masters program based on the strength of the department; and your PhD program based on the advisor." In January 2011, White finished his PhD and went to work as a researcher at IBM in Bangalore, India.

Tags: CMS Mathieu Desbrun alumni Jerome White