Ph.D. candidate
Adewale (Wale) Obadimu and graduate students Oluwaseun Johnson and Uche Umoga participated in the 2020 CRA URMD Grad Cohort Workshop which took place March 5-7, 2020 in Austin, Texas. The three-day event was hosted by the Computing Research Association (CRA), an organization dedicated to bringing industry, government and academia together to support research and advanced education in computing.

This year, the CRA Grad Cohort for Underrepresented Minorities and Persons with Disabilities (URMD) Workshop took place for the third time, attracting students from schools across the United States and Canada. CRA covered the travel expenses for all selected students that collectively represent a diverse set of computing-related research areas and institutions. Participants attended a wide variety of sessions that were focused on not only improving their work, explaining academic workflow and career options, but also provided them with advice for mental wellbeing. The focus was to learn from one another leaving not only with more knowledge, but also a greater professional network. 

“I learned via different workshops, connecting and networking with grad students from other institutions in the US as well as professionals from IBM, Google, Microsoft, Bloomberg, etc.”,  Oluwaseun Johnson stated. “I did not only discuss my research with other participants, but also listened to speakers as they discussed a variety of topics relevant to graduate students. These topics included advice on networking, building your professional persona, summer internships, balancing both graduate school and personal life, strategies for human-human interaction, entrepreneurship opportunities and skill. While soaking in a wealth of information, I also enjoyed networking and meeting other graduate students.”

The workshop focused on professional and personal development. Wale attended the workshop for the second time. “My biggest takeaway from the workshop was about how to handle failure”, he stated referring to the keynote talk “Fail Your Way to Success” delivered by Armando Fox, professor in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences Department at the University of California, Berkeley. Professor Fox provided anecdotal evidence that corroborates Winston Churchill’s quote: “Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that count”. 

Students presented their own research during the poster session, which provided everyone a chance to not only discuss their own research and receive feedback, but also see what other graduate students in the field are currently working on. Wale presented his poster titled “Identifying Latent Toxic Features on YouTube Using Non-negative Matrix Factorization”. The contribution of this work is to help understand the relationship between the impact of toxicity of a video on the comments, to enable us to predict the likely toxicity of a commenter based on their past history, and to allow us to determine what kind of comments a video will generate based on prior toxicity matrix. 

“I reviewed various research projects and areas different students are focusing on during the poster session. This gave me valuable insight to the do’s and don’t on how to efficiently present a poster and convey information regardless of who is listening or interested in my poster.” Uche explained. 

Wale, Seun, and Uche are the lead developers of the Blogtrackers tool that helps COSMOS conduct discourse analysis and event analysis on blogs including assessment of misinformation and fake news. 

For more information on the CRA URMD Grad Cohort Workshop visit https://cra.org/cra-wp/grad-cohort-for-urmd/.

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