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Computer Science Department receives U.S. DoE training grant

Chi-Ren Shyu, the Paul K. and Dianne Shumaker endowed associate professor in computer science addresses MU Informatics Institute graduate students at the beginning of the semester. Shyu is the primary investigator for a recently approved Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) grant from the United States Department of Education, which will allow the Computer Science Department to attract and retain additional graduate students.

MU College of Engineering’s Computer Science Department has received a Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) grant from the United States Department of Education, a first in the department’s history.

The GAANN grant provides the department with approximately $400,000, enabling faculty to create a training program to attract domestic students to the college. The university matched a quarter of the award, resulting in a half-million dollar total.

Chi-Ren Shyu, the Paul K. and Dianne Shumaker endowed associate professor in computer science, is the principle investigator for the award. Along with seven other computer science faculty members, he designed a plan for the program, which will train doctoral students with career plans in teaching and research.

“We want to provide secure and long-term funding so students don’t have to worry about financial support for up to five years. The GAANN fellows will be able to concentrate on research without distractions from seeking employment not related to their dissertation work,” Shyu said.

The entirety of the award will go to waiving tuition and course fees, covering graduate insurance and providing up to a $30,000 stipend for each doctoral student. The department, which currently has 11 domestic doctoral students, expects that number to increase by four thanks to the grant.

“We laid out a very exciting and solid plan for the training program,” Shyu said. “This funding for students can help the department attract top doctoral students both from Missouri and out of state.”

“Domestic student enrollment is important for national needs and national security,” Dong Xu, James C. Dowel professor and chair of computer science said.

Students, who will work closely with faculty, will have the opportunity to work with the MU Informatics Institute, of which Shyu is the director, as well as the Center for Computational Biology and Medicine and the Information Security and Assurance Center, a center recently created by Associate Professor William Harrison.

“Students take courses and conduct research no matter what, but through this program they will have additional training,” Xu said. “The fellows will be receiving comprehensive classroom teaching training with regular feedback from the faculty committee. We will have some sort of training seminar for this cohort of students, and other forms of support like conference attendance.”

The faculty team who created the plan for the program received high praise on a technical review of the arrangement.

“I have developed a passion to visit this project,” said the anonymous reviewer. “[In] the picture drawn by the proposal, the fellows are integrated into an outstanding research program in ways that enhance their skills, provide confidence and value to them, and meld them into productive assets to the nation and world.

“The individuals providing the support are like rock stars of the science world,” continued the review. “This is among the strongest proposals by the strongest faculty that I have yet read.”

Shyu acknowledged his gratitude for the help the team received from the Mizzou Engineering Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department, which has a similar training program.



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