Carnegie Mellon University
April 21, 2023

CMU and Amazon to Expand STEM Summer Research Programs for Underrepresented Students

By Josh Quicksall

A group photo of the 2022 cohort outside of TCS Hall

Carnegie Mellon University's School of Computer Science and Amazon are working together to expand the university's summer research programming for undergraduate students. This collaboration aims to address the lack of diversity in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields by providing students from historically underrepresented communities with a unique summer research experience at a top-tier university.

CMU will join Columbia University, Georgia Tech and the University of Southern California as a host institution for Amazon's Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) program. Amazon's gift supports three summer research programs on campus: Research Experiences for Undergraduates in Software Engineering (REUSE), hosted by the Software and Societal Systems Department; Robotics Institute Summer Scholars (RISS), hosted by the Robotics Institute; and the HCII Summer Undergraduate Research Program, hosted by the Human-Computer Interaction Institute (HCII).

The CMU-Amazon SURE Program will provide 25 undergraduate students with the opportunity to spend the summer in Pittsburgh working alongside SCS's world-class faculty and Ph.D. students on cutting-edge research projects across the computational technology spectrum.

"We are thrilled to work with Amazon, and we acknowledge their generous and sustained commitment with great gratitude. Their endorsement is a resounding affirmation of our critical mission to create an inclusive and equitable ecosystem for students from underrepresented backgrounds," said Joshua Sunshine, director of the REUSE program. "Their support will allow us to expand our reach and continue to cultivate an environment where these students can experience the thrill, value and wonder of participating in transformative research that promises to revolutionize the very fabric of our society, including how we live, work and play."

According to the National Science Board's State of U.S. Science and Engineering 2022 report, women represented 48% of the employed U.S. population but only about one-third of the STEM workforce. Moreover, Black people, Hispanic people, and American Indians or Alaska Natives collectively represented 30% of the employed U.S. population but just 23% of the total STEM workforce. These numbers highlight the need for increased diversity in STEM fields to enhance innovation and drive progress.

"Amazon is excited to expand the SURE program to CMU, which also has a strong commitment to increasing diversity in the national STEM talent pool," said Korin Torrence, principal program manager at Amazon and SURE program lead. "Amazon SURE, which takes a multifaceted approach to fostering diversity and inclusivity, will support research and education as well as providing mentorship from SCS faculty as well as Amazon scientists. We hope that the CMU collaboration and access to faculty will only heighten the interest of historically underrepresented students to participate in research and stay in STEM throughout their studies."

CMU's summer research programs have a proven track record of success. Past summer research students have gone on to join top Ph.D. programs in computer science, publish papers in major conferences, win NSF graduate research fellowships, and place in outstanding undergraduate and student research competitions. By working with Amazon to expand these programs, CMU hopes to inspire and empower the next generation of STEM leaders — from all walks of life.

To learn more, visit the SURE at CMU and Amazon SURE websites.