Dr. Valerie Taylor leads CMD-IT

Image of Valerie TaylorDr. Valerie Taylor, senior associate dean for academic affairs and Royce E. Wisenbaker Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, is the executive director of the Center for Minorities and People with Disabilities in Information Technology (CMD-IT).

CMD-IT is dedicated to helping under-represented groups such as African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanics, Pacific Islanders and people with disabilities exposed to opportunities in the computing and information technology field.

CMD-IT hosts numerous programs and workshops that make a difference for people of all ages and backgrounds. These programs include their Academic Career Workshop, the National Labs Professional Development Workshop and the Student Professional Development Workshop.

The Academic Career Workshop is focused on teaching participants the methods for writing effective proposals and building a strong résumé. The workshop also includes panels of diverse senior faculty who discuss the tenure and promotion process, the process of launching a research program and professionalism.

The National Labs Professional Development Workshop is designed to mentor senior graduate students, post-docs, assistant and associate level faculty, and laboratory professional junior staff about the successful strategies for navigating the professional ladder and exposure to the various professional opportunities in computational science at places such as the National Laboratories.  

During the Student Professional Development Workshop, underrepresented minority students and students with disabilities with a 3.0 GPA or above, will be able to attend engaging sessions on résumé writing, interview skills, professionalism and networking. A major part of this particular workshop is the inclusion of mock interviews that allow the participants to receive immediate feedback from professionals within the industry about their performance.

Along with these workshops, CMD-IT also presents the Tapia Conference, of which Taylor is one of the original founders. This year’s conference theme is “Diversity at Scale” as the conference celebrates efforts to move diversity in all aspects of computing beyond conversation and study into full practice and implementation.

The keynote speakers for the 2015 Tapia Conference are Jack Dongarra, University of Tennessee, Dilma Da Silva, Texas A&M University, Odest Chadwicke Jenkins, Brown University, Shaun Kane, University of Colorado Boulder and Jacky Wright, Microsoft IT Strategic Enterprise Services.

Taylor was presented with the Nico Habermann Award from the Computing Research Association (CRA) in 2002, which is given to an individual who has made outstanding contributions aimed at increasing the numbers and/or successes of underrepresented groups in the computing research community. She has also received numerous other awards including the Richard A. Tapia Achievement Award for Scientific Scholarship, the MOBE Influencers and Innovators of the Internet and Technology Award, the Young Outstanding Leader Award, the Hewlett Packard Harriet B. Rigas Education Award, the Pathbreaker Award from the Women in Leadership at Northwestern University and the National Science Foundation National Young Investigator Award.

Taylor received a bachelor's degree in computer and electrical engineering from Purdue University, a master's degree in electrical engineering at Purdue University and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering and computer science from the University of California, Berkeley. 

The CMD-IT Board of Advisors includes Faye Briggs of Intel, Shirley Malcom of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Daniel Reed of the University of Iowa, Sharron Rush of Knowbility, Inc., Lucy Sanders of the National Center for Women & Information Technology, Toni Smith of Schulmberger, Richard Tapia of Rice University, Miriam Vializ-Briggs of Briggs & Briggs Marketing and Telle Whitney of the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology.

The CMD-IT Board of Directors are Sandra Begay-Campbell and Jeanine Cook of Sandia National Laboratories, Ron Eglash of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Stuart Feldmen of Google, Richard Ladner of the University of Washington, Eric Marin of MFR Consultants, Inc. and Bryant York of Portland State University.