Clemson Computing, Inclusion, and Identity program (CCII)

What student groups historically marginalized in computing do you plan to  engage? What opportunities and constraints do these students face in  computing research?

Our research will engage Black-identifying undergraduate students. There is a considerable gap  in the participation of Black students in research vs. their White counterparts, especially in  doctoral programs. According to the Pew Center, Black students accounted for only 7% of  research doctorates in Computer Science during the 2017-2018 year vs. 60% for White  students and 13% for Asian students [1]. According to the 2020 Taulbee Survey, Black students  represent only 1.7% of new Ph.D. students in Computer and Information Science and  Engineering (CISE) fields, vs. 64.9% of Non-resident Alien students and 21.2% White students  [2]. From the same survey, only 1.4% of CISE PhDs were awarded to Black students vs. 64.6%  for Non-resident Alien students and 22% for White students. Hence, it is critical to focus efforts  to improve Black students’ participation in computing research. 

We believe that Black-identifying students may benefit from mentorship, articulation of additional  pathways to computing careers, skills development, and networking opportunities. Research  has shown how mentoring produces positive outcomes in academic performance, retention in  computing programs, and an increased likelihood to pursue graduate studies [3], [4]. As  research suggests, the lack of exposure to opportunities in computing may impact the  representation of Black students in computing [5], [6], thus, exposure to research opportunities,  especially during their undergraduate career, can increase the likelihood that they may consider  pursuing an advanced degree in computing.

How do you plan to recruit students?

We propose a multi-organization strategy to recruit students to participate in the proposed  workshop. This approach leverages the principal investigator’s (PI) role as the Interim National  Director of the International Society of Blacks in Computing (ISBIC), his role as the Clemson  University faculty advisor for the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), and his  relationship with Clemson University’s PEER/WISE organization. The ISBIC is a new  organization established in 2020 to foster diversity in the field of computing through the support  and mentoring of people who identify as Black. The ISBIC has agreed to advertise the proposed program to its student members through its website and on-campus events. The Programs for  Educational Enrichment and Retention (PEER) and Women in Science and Engineering (WISE)  are Clemson University initiatives to educate, recruit, and retain underrepresented populations  in STEM fields. PEER/WISE will advertise the proposed initiative to incoming and returning  Black undergraduates. The third aspect of our recruiting strategy involves the National Society  of Black Engineers (NSBE). NSBE is one of the world’s largest student-governed organizations  and is committed to increasing the number of culturally responsible Black Engineers in industry  and academia. A annual NSBE-associated recruiting event will be held on Clemson University’s  main campus and advertised on the Clemson NSBE website. All three organizations (NSBE,  ISBIC, PEER/WISE) will be provided with promotional material for the CCII program.

Anticipated number of students reached


Who are the individuals, institutions, and organizations that will support the  workshop? How will these partners support the workshop?

The CCII program will be supported by the PI, Dr. Julian Brinkley, Clemson University’s School  of Computing, the International Society of Blacks in Computing (ISBIC), the Clemson chapter of  the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), the Programs for Educational Enrichment and  Retention (PEER), and Women in Science and Engineering (WISE). Dr. Brinkley will lead and  coordinate all workshop activities and will be responsible for guiding the experience of  participants. As a Black male Human-Centered Computing faculty member with close ties to  thought leaders in the Black computer science community like Dr. Juan Gilbert, Dr. Brinkley is  uniquely positioned to lead this effort. Clemson University will leverage its speaker series to  bring in Black computing professionals within and outside of academia to give talks that will be  open to the public. While the talks will be computer science focused, they will be structured to  engage and inspire marginalized workshop participants to pursue computing careers and  graduate studies. Clemson’s School of Computing, ISBIC, NSBE, and PEER/WISE will assist  with student recruitment. Each entity will leverage their community reach to distribute digital and  physical promotional materials to advertise the workshop.

Strong applications will demonstrate how the proposed initiative and  sustainment plan build student self-efficacy, sense of belonging, practical  skills and motivation to pursue computing research. 

In addition, strong applications will outline activities to foster a research  culture (e.g., research training, experiential projects, mentorship), grow  students’ professional capital and networks, build science identity and peer  community, and provide holistic advising (e.g., graduate admission process,  transition to graduate school life, academic and financial resources).

List 3-5 objectives and how you’ll measure their achievement.

The proposed activity has four primary objectives: 1) To increase the interest of Black students  in pursuing computing-related graduate studies, 2) To grow the Black-identifying computing  research community at Clemson University and in rural South Carolina, 3) To cultivate the  computer science identity of Black-identifying students at Clemson University, and to 4)  Increase student awareness of career opportunities in computing and related fields. Objectives  1 and 2 will be measured by year over year Black-identifying enrollment changes within  Clemson’s School of Computing (SOC). Objectives 3 and 4 will be measured using surveys  distributed to Black-identifying students in the SOC. The surveys will attempt to provide insight  to the following research questions, RQ1: “To what degree do the Clemson Computing,  Inclusion, and Identity program activities help students to cultivate their computer science  identity?”, and RQ2: “What impact do the Clemson Computing, Inclusion, and Identity program  activities have on student awareness of career opportunities in computing and related fields?”.

What will students be doing, when, and how? Why will the content, activities, and schedule meet students’ needs?

The Clemson Computing, Inclusion, and Identity program (CCII) is imagined as a three-year initiative designed to increase interest in computing research. The program will be specifically  targeted towards one group of students historically marginalized in the field: Black-identifying  undergraduates. The program is designed around the concepts of inclusive design and  accessibility. Students within the program will be exposed to computing research through the  process of designing and prototyping technologies to support the needs of adults with a  sensory, motor, or cognitive disability. Yearly workshop activities will occur in parallel to the PI’s  undergraduate/graduate course, “Human-Centered Computing 4150/6150: Inclusive Design and  Accessible Technology”; a 3-credit hour introduction to the concept of inclusive design that  explores the use of inclusive design processes in the development of accessible technology. CCII undergraduate participants will be placed in four-person design teams that will include one  to two Human-Centered Computing (HCC) or Computer Science (CS) graduate students and  one co-designer with a visual, auditory, motor, or cognitive disability. Leveraging a version of 

Google’s “Start with One, Invent for Many” process [7],this design team will seek to design and  prototype a technology intended to make a meaningful difference in the lives of persons with  disabilities. While student projects may focus on personal mobility, health, wellness or other  topics, students will be presented with a user-centered design framework intended to guide the  research process. This process, which will be supported by workshops intended to serve as an  introduction to user-centered research skills, will help participants to: 1) Gain empathy for the  end user, 2) Define the problem and articulate a point of view, 3) Ideate and create design  alternatives, 4) Prototype, and 5) evaluate an artifact. Steps 1 through 3 will occur during the  Fall semester in parallel to the course activities of HCC 4150/6150. Steps 4 through 5, which will  focus on the prototyping, implementation, and evaluation of a technology will occur in the  following semester (Spring). The annual activities of the CCII program will be repeated in years  two and three. 

Months 1-6 (Fall) 

  • Kick off Meeting – TBD Invited Speaker (School of Computing Speaker Series) Group Selection and Team Creation 
  • Workshop-Conducting Human-Subjects Research / Working with People 
  • Workshop-Gaining Empathy  
  • Workshop-Understanding Disability 
  • Workshop-Defining the Problem  
  • Workshop-How to Brainstorm and Ideate 

Months 7-12 (Spring) 

  • TBD Invited Speaker (School of Computing Speaker Series) 
  • Workshop – Prototyping and Fabrication I 
  • Workshop – Prototyping and Fabrication II 
  • Workshop – Artifact Evaluation 
  • Project Showcase

Workshop length is to be determined but it is anticipated that they will follow the 75 to 120- minute format of the Stanford D-School’s crash courses in design thinking [8]. The PI has  leveraged this “crash course” approach to inclusive design within HCC 4150/6150 in prior  semesters [9].

Student sustainment plans

Although there are many benefits for Black-identifying students to participate in computing  research, there are potential obstacles that they may encounter. Two of the most notable  obstacles are the underrepresentation of Black faculty in computing-related fields and the general lack of a “critical mass” of Black-identifying students at any one Predominantly White  Institution (PWI). According to the 2020 Taulbee Survey, Black or African Americans make up  only 2.3% of all faculty and staff in CISE departments and 1.6% of all tenured or tenure-track  faculty [2]. Hence, students may have greater difficulty in finding a mentor of the same race. In  turn, Black students may not feel a sense of belonging in computing because they do not see  faculty, staff, or many students who look like them. Research in STEM education suggests that  Black-identifying students may feel their identity becomes lost through the absence of a Black  community at PWIs [10], [11]. We argue that this issue of representation and community may be  ameliorated by the proposed CCII program by creating mentoring networks of Black-identifying  undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty. A cohort approach will be leveraged whereby  members of the initial group will mentor subsequent cohorts. This approach will foster a sense  of community and togetherness which we argue will support a sense of belonging for these  Black-identifying students at PWIs like Clemson.

How would an exploreCSR award build capacity for supporting students from  historically marginalized groups in computing research?

The proposed program will serve as a proof of concept that will be expanded into a larger  program and series of initiatives potentially supported through funds received from the National  Science Foundation (NSF). The CCII program is an integral component of an NSF proposal  currently under development by the PI and faculty from North Carolina Central University, a  Historically Black College or University (HBCU). The NSF program, “Racial Equity in STEM  Education” seeks to support bold, ground-breaking, and potentially transformative projects  addressing systemic racism in STEM disciplines like computing. The PI believes that the CCII  program is a bold and transformative program that as part of a larger initiative will engage a  broad range of Black-identifying students with computing research opportunities. NSF funding  will expand the CCII program from a single site program into a multi-site program that, in  involving an HBCU, reaches a broad spectrum of Black-identifying students. Beyond broadening  participation through the inclusion of Black-identifying students in computing research the  program also serves a dual purpose by encouraging research into accessibility. A 2018 report found that while 84% of the companies surveyed believed hiring computing professionals with  skillsets rooted in user-centered design and accessibility was important, 60% reported problems  finding job candidates with the requisite accessibility skillset [12].

Proposed budget allocation

  • Co-Designer travel stipends $20 X 30 co-designers X 4 design sessions = $2400 
  • Co-Designer Incentive (persons with sensory, cognitive and motor disabilities) $50 X 30 co-designers X 4 design sessions =  $6000 
  • Gift cards for students to order meals $10 X 90 students x 7 days = $6,300 
  • Welcome packets with CCII promotional materials $15 X 90 students = $1350 
  • School of Computing Speaker Series Speaker Honorarium $500 X 2 speakers = $1000 
  • Prototyping and fabrication materials $200 X 90 students = $18,000 
  • Design and Ideation materials $50 X 90 student = $4,500 Total = 43,000


[1] R. Fry, B. Kennedy, and C. Funk, “STEM Jobs See Uneven Progress in Increasing Gender, Racial and Ethnic Diversity,” Pew Research Center, Apr. 2021. [Online]. Available: increasing-gender-racial-and-ethnic-diversity/ 

[2] S. Zweben and B. Bizot, “Bachelor’s and Doctoral Degree Production Growth Continues but New Student Enrollment Shows Declines,” CRA Taulbee Surv., vol. 33, no. 5, p. 67, 2020. [3] L. Charleston, J. Gilbert, B. Escobar, and J. Jackson, “Creating a Pipeline for African American Computing Science Faculty: An Innovative Faculty/Research Mentoring Program Model,” J. Fac. Dev., vol. 28, no. 1, pp. 85–92, Jan. 2014. 

[4] D. J. Davis, “Access to Academe: The Importance of Mentoring to Black Students,” Negro Educ. Rev., vol. 58, no. 3/4, p. 15, 2007. 

[5] A. Nager and R. D. Atkinson, “The Case for Improving U.S. Computer Science Education,” Social Science Research Network, Rochester, NY, SSRN Scholarly Paper ID 3066335, May 2016. doi: 10.2139/ssrn.3066335. 

[6] J. Wang, H. Hong, J. Ravitz, and S. Hejazi Moghadam, “Landscape of K-12 Computer Science Education in the U.S.: Perceptions, Access, and Barriers,” in Proceedings of the 47th ACM Technical Symposium on Computing Science Education, New York, NY, USA, Feb. 2016, pp. 645–650. doi: 10.1145/2839509.2844628. 

[7] Google, Inc., “Start With One – Experiments with Google.” (accessed Jun. 28, 2021).

[8] Stanford University Design School, “A Virtual Crash Course in Design Thinking,” Stanford, 2019. thinking (accessed Feb. 23, 2020). 

[9] J. Brinkley and E. Huff, “Inclusion by Design: A 75-Minute Crash Course on Accessible Design,” 2020.

[10]T. Blunt and T. Pearson, “Exploring the Digital Identity Divide: A Call for Attention to  Computing Identity at HBCUs,” in Proceedings of the 52nd ACM Technical Symposium on  Computer Science Education, New York, NY, USA: Association for Computing Machinery, 2021, pp. 640–646. Accessed: Jul. 02, 2021. [Online]. Available: 

[11]M. L. Miles, A. J. Brockman, and D. E. Naphan-Kingery, “Invalidated identities: The  disconfirming effects of racial microaggressions on Black doctoral students in STEM,” J.  Res. Sci. Teach., vol. 57, no. 10, pp. 1608–1631, 2020, doi: 10.1002/tea.21646. 

[12]“Accessible Technology Skills Gap Report: 2018.” Accessed: Jun. 18, 2019. [Online]. 

Recent projects


Transportation: Autonomous Vehicles

As Autonomous Vehicle (AV) technology transitions from the realm of science fiction to reality, the benefits of this technology have become ever more broadly discussed.

Read More »

Transportation: Ridesharing

Ridesharing is an increasingly utilized alternative mode of transportation providing a more widely available and often low-cost option compared to buses and taxis. Ridesharing  may

Read More »
older adults

Accessibility: Older Adults

Older adults, people ages 65 and older, may face challenges in being active members of society due to potential physical and mental limitations as they

Read More »