Broadening Participation in Computing Alliance Program
The BPC Alliances were established between 2006 and 2009 to increase the number and diversity of college graduates in the computing and computationally-intensive disciplines. The Alliances are national and regional collaborations of academic institutions, educators, professional societies, community organizations, and industrial partners. They create the best practices, educational resources, advocacy networks, and forums needed to transform computing education. In aggregate, the BPC Alliances broadly address issues of engagement and education across the K-20 academic pipeline. They are specifically charged with addressing the long standing underrepresentation of many groups within the computing community but, many, if not most, BPC-A activities increase awareness, access, engagement, and inclusion for all students.
Computing permeates our lives and plays a key role in our economy. It provides the basis for much of the Information Technology (IT) innovation that has driven our economic growth in recent decades; it enables almost every sector of our economy; and it underlies many of the recent advances in science and engineering. It is not surprising then that computing is among the fastest-growing areas of projected job growth. What is surprising is that it is failing to attract many of our students: since 2000, the number of students who arrive at college intending to major in computing is down by 70%, 80% for women. College enrollments and degree production in computing majors has also decreased dramatically over this time period, and although there are some recent improvements in enrollments, we are still significantly under producing students with the 21st Century skills that will be needed in a competitive, global economy. Recent ACT data, for example, shows projected job growth out-pacing student interest in computing majors by a factor of 5.5. The BPC-A Program aims to change that.
The BPC Alliances provide ways to ensure that all students have opportunities to develop the interest and competencies that they will need to pursue computing and computationally-intensive disciplines. The emphasis on all students is important because we cannot afford to leave behind those groups that have traditionally been underrepresented in computing: women, persons with disabilities, African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, and indigenous peoples. Together these groups make up nearly 70% of our population. Without their participation, talents, and creativity, our Nation cannot meet its imperative for a globally competitive, computationally savvy workforce and we cannot hope to achieve the appropriate scientific, technological and economic innovations that will serve our highly diverse society.
The BPC Alliances in aggregate are a national resource for achieving the transformation of computing education. They
- Develop, test, and deploy interventions aimed at improving the teaching and learning of computing by diverse student populations across the academic pipeline.
- Collect, vet, and disseminate best and promising practices for engaging, recruiting, training and retaining a diverse workforce with the computing skills and competencies needed for a 21st Century workforce.
- Inform and educate the broader computing community on the adoption of effective interventions with workshops, conference sessions, professional development opportunities, and the distribution of materials and programs-in-a-box.
- Provide a national distribution point for educational reforms that has particularly strong channels to those groups of students who have traditionally been the hardest for our field to reach.
- Motivate and rally the broader computing community to take an advocacy role in driving the changes needed at the federal, state, local, and institutional levels to transform computing education for all students.
- Provide a locus for the development of a national academic community - with the standard benefits of common conferences, workshops, blogs, and peer-reviewed journals that allow individuals to build on the work of others - focused on issues of underrepresentation in computing.
- Provide a locus for public/private partnerships in computing education across the K-20 spectrum.
Thus, the BPC Alliances lead a comprehensive, national effort to provide all students with opportunities to develop the computational competencies they will need as part of the 21st Century workforce. A recent AAAS report concludes, "At the very least, based on national [enrollment] trends, the BPC Alliances seem to be bucking them. More important, they are championing new approaches to student recruitment and preparation, to faculty classroom practice, to disciplinary mission and measures of success. They are changing institutions - and the future face of computing."
There are currently 8 BPC Alliances.
 HERI College Freshman Survey, 2009
 The Condition of College and Career Readiness 2010, ACT; http://www.act.org/research/policymakers/cccr10/page_17.html (Last access 8/26/2010)
 Daryl Chubin and Roosevelt Johnson, Telling the Stories of the BPC Alliances, AAAS, June 2010; http://php.aaas.org/programs/centers/capacity/documents/BPC%20Stories.pdf (Last access 9/14/2010.)
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