Dr. Kinnis Gosha, an Assistant Professor and Director of the Culturally Relevant Computing Lab at Morehouse College, has been awarded a grant by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to conduct a study on virtual mentorship and how it impacts underrepresented minority students in the computer science and engineering fields. This grant award is for $299,882 and will span a two-year period.
The central purpose of this research is to develop and evaluate a virtual mentoring system that uses a group of embodied conversational agents (i.e., think avatars) to mentor underrepresented doctoral students, majoring in engineering and computer science and who are pursuing a career as a college professor. This grant is also designed to provide guidance to minority students on the different paths available in the areas of engineering and computer science.
This grant is of great importance, as minority students are underrepresented in higher education in the United States, particularly in the areas of engineering and computer science. Because of this, opportunities for mentorship in the engineering and computer science disciplines will be less scarce for interested students. Research has shown that conversational agents used for mentoring have been effective in addressing this gap in support. The NSF award positions the Culturally Relevant Computing Lab to conduct research that can potentially transform the landscape of engineering and computer science, by providing the foundation and support needed to foster diversity through virtual mentorship.