The UC Merced Interdisciplinary Computational Graduate Education (ICGE) program is an Innovations in Graduate Education National Research Training program funded by the National Science Foundation. The program aims to enhance student success and reduce graduate student attrition rates in the computational sciences, particularly for underrepresented minorities and first-generation students.
The primary goal of this pilot program is to foster computational and data analytic skills within an interdisciplinary framework. NRT ICGE participants practice team-based research that is further bolstered by student support, career preparation, and mentoring. Students who have completed the program will get an early understanding of the demands of research positions in industry as well as academia, and will be better prepared for the rigors and challenges of graduate study in general. Perhaps even more importantly, students in the program have the opportunity to build a rich support network at a very early point in their graduate careers, something which has been shown to have a significant impact on degree completion.
Participants are all first year doctoral students with interests in furthering their computational and data analytic skills. They attend a two-day introductory workshop, followed by weekly project meetings and instructional modules focused on specific skills required to solve interdisciplinary computational science problems. Module content includes programming languages, tools for data analytics, model building, fundamental algorithms, data interpretation and visualization, project management, teamwork, and communication and presentation skills. An advisory board from industry and the National Laboratories helps to guide the program, advise students on their group projects, and mentor them on career options.