Friday June 14, 2024

Florida International University's (FIU's) second-phase CREST, the Center for Innovative Information Systems Engineering is housed in its School of Computing and Information Sciences and its Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. The Center's four research thrusts bring together a multidisciplinary group of researchers, large-scale collaborative relationships, and a broad ecosystem of partners to perform research that will lead to information technologies that help to solve critical societal problems of national priority.

The FIU CREST has graduated 45 PhD students. Pictured here (from left to right) is our Spring 2008 graduating class: CREST Co-PI Xudong He, CREST PhD graduates Weixiang Sun and Maria Tito, CREST Co-PI Malek Adjouadi, CREST PI Yi Deng, CREST PhD graduate Jose Morales, and CREST Sr. Investigator Peter Clarke.

The thrusts engage a well-qualified cadre of students to perform CREST-related research. Fewer than 3% of the U.S.'s approximately 1,500 Ph.D.s graduates in computer science and engineering each year are Hispanic or African American; fewer than 20% are women. Through Spring 2010, the FIU CREST has graduated 45 Ph.D. students - 38% were underrepresented minorities and 36% were women; it also graduated 60 M.S. students - 48% were underrepresented minorities and 32% were women. Additionally, the FIU CREST has been acknowledged in over 350 publications, leveraged $19.5M in new research awards and $3M in in-kind equipment, begun the LA Grid collaboration with IBM, won a very competitive NSF PIRE grant, established strong international partnerships, established an NSF I/UCRC site and recruited members to it, and received a $1.4M endowment from the Ware Foundation. Furthermore, the joint Neuro-Engineering program between FIU and Miami Children's Hospital, with support for two faculty lines and a postdoctoral scientist, brought added strength to the CREST subprojects.

The research and programmatic synergy enabled by FIU's CREST has led to increased interaction with industry (including the formation of the Latin American Grid described below) and to FIU's cadre of Hispanic computer science doctoral students growing from 3 before CREST to 23; the latter represents nearly 13% of the nation's population of such students.

The increases in our student pipeline have come from a synergistic combination of activities enabled or enhance by our CREST. High school programming competitions allow us to identify talented students early and to reach and engage their teachers. FIU's annual engineering fair allows us to present our research to school students and to make them aware that research careers are within their grasp. Student clubs, tutoring support, and undergraduate research opportunities allow us to keep the pipeline flowing and to attract our brightest students into graduate programs. FIU President Modesto Maidique has written that he is "particularly pleased with the recruitment of so many underrepresented graduate students, which will only enhance FIU's diverse enrollment and the role we play as the Nation's largest doctoral-granting majority-minority university."

Recognizing the critical need for broadening the participation of minorities in computing, SCIS and IBM jointly founded the Latin American Grid (LA Grid). The initiative fosters diversity in computing by focusing on three key areas: Technical Platform Development, Research, and Hispanic Computing Talent Development. The Technical Platform Development program provides the infrastructure and computing resources necessary for the Research program, wherein IBM Scientists and FIU faculty collaborate on joint research projects involving many Hispanic students. The Hispanic Computing Talent Development program focuses on broadening the participation of Hispanics in computing by providing graduate and undergraduate students with summer internships at IBM, executive mentorships, and executive lectures and round tables that provide deep insight into current technology and business issues facing the computing industry. The LA Grid Initiative is playing a major role in broadening the participation of minorities in computing by involving Hispanic students in its research activities, internships, and mentoring programs.

LA Grid's Executive Mentorship program provides exemplary students with IBM executives as one-to-one mentors.

FIU's NSF Partnerships for International Research and Education (PIRE) award, leveraged from CREST and LA Grid and one of only 20 awards made in response to 500 proposals, creates a "Global Living Laboratory for Cyber-Infrastructure Application Enablement" that facilitates collaborative research at prestigious international academic and industry research sites in Argentina, Brazil, China, France, India, Mexico, and Spain. PIRE and LA Grid directly address the issues raised in the National Science Board's recent report, International Science and Engineering Partnerships: A Priority for U.S. Foreign Policy and Our Nation's Innovation Enterprise. CREST students participating in PIRE are co-supervised by FIU faculty members and their international collaborators; PIRE provides training in the culture and language of their international partners' countries as well as travel support that allows students to perform hands-on research in the partner's laboratories. Nine FIU students (4 BS and 5 PhD) participated in collaborative research projects during the Summer of 2008. In the Summer of 2009, fifteen FIU students (7 BS and 8 PhD) participated and in the Summer of 2010, fourteen FIU students (1 post doc, 9 PhD and 4 BS) participated.

IBM is a partner in both LA Grid and PIRE and provides strong support to the FIU CREST. Nick Bowen, Vice President of Strategy and Worldwide Operations for IBM Research, states that the FIU CREST's "research agenda is bold, forward looking and will leverage our relationship to create a highly competitive research center capable of training students who possess critical research and technology skills in technical areas that are greatly needed if the Unites States is to stay competitive in the global IT marketplace."

"CREST research has resulted in significant growth of our computing-related doctoral programs."
Modesto A. Maidique
FIU President

"The Center's research agenda is bold, forward looking...[and will] create a highly competitive research center capable of training students who possess critical research and technology skills in technical areas that are greatly needed if the United States is to stay competitve in the global IT markeplace."
cholas S. Bowen, Ph.D.
VP of Strategy and Worldwide Operations, IBM Research

"By applying its research to themes critical to the State of Florida, such as disaster management, healthcare for our diverse population, and universal access to information systems, we believe that the Center will enable technology creation that will help keep the United States and Florida competitive in the increasingly-global IT marketplace."
Pete Martinez
Chairman, Florida Research Consortium

"Together we have already established a brain research laboratory and an optical imaging laboratory..."
Raul Herrera, MD.
Chief Research Officer, Miami Children's Hospital

This material is based in part upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Numbers HRD-0317692 and HRD-0833093. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. © 2003-2010 Florida International University