Culturally Relevant Computing Lab Member Ernest Holmes Awarded GCLA Scholarship

The Culturally Relevant Computing Lab at Morehouse College congratulates Ernest Holmes on receiving the Georgia CIO Leadership Association (GCLA) Scholarship. Every year, the GCLA awards an outstanding student that exhibits an interest in computer information systems or business, excels academically, and is active in community outreach. This year, this honor is awarded to Mr. Holmes.

Ernest is currently a junior Computer Science major at Morehouse College, and maintains a 3.68 GPA. He has been a member of the Culturally Relevant Computing Lab, led by Dr. Kinnis Gosha, since his freshman year, and has worked as an intern at the Google Headquarters in Mountain View, California the past two summers. He spends much of his free time participating in a number of community outreach activities that serve elementary, middle and high school students that have an interest in computer science.

The scholarship award will be presented during the GCLA CIO of the Year ORBIE Awards Ceremony, on November 15, 2017 at the Cobb Galleria Center in Atlanta, Georgia.  Over 1,000 people from various organizations across the state are expected to be in attendance.

Four Members of Morehouse College’s CRC Lab Receive Travel Scholarships to Attend Tapia Conference

Members of Morehouse College’s Culturally Relevant Computing (CRC) Lab have received travel scholarships to attend the ACM Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing Conference, which will place September 20th-September 23rd in Atlanta, GA.  Ernest Holmes, Kevin Womack, Nathan Harris, and Leron Julian were awarded the travel scholarships to attend the conference through support from the Institute for African- American Mentoring in Computing Sciences grant (NSF grant #1303156). Travel scholarships include conference registration, meals during the conference, and hotel accommodations.

The Tapia Conference brings together undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, researchers, and professionals in computing from all backgrounds and ethnicities to celebrate the diversity that exists in computing, connect with others with common backgrounds, ethnicities, disabilities, and gender so as to create communities that extend beyond the conference, and obtain advice from and make contacts with computing leaders in academia and industry.  The Tapia Conference has always been a premier venue to acknowledge, promote, and celebrate diversity in computing.

This is a great achievement for our lab members.  Tapia Conference scholarship applications are extremely competitive and are reviewed by over 90 professional volunteers in computer science industry and academia.  Congratulations to these students!

Morehouse College Offers Android Programming Courses and Exposure to Coding Culture

Culturally Relevant Computing Lab Director, Dr. Kinnis Gosha, and Google software engineers, developed a course for Morehouse students to learn Android Application programming, along with the Applied Computer Science(CS) content, and received hands-on experience in a for-credit class.  The course, titled “Mobile App Development with Advanced Data Structures,”combined lecture, class discussion and in-class assignments targeted at learning Java, advanced data structures, ADS, and other basics for Android programming.  The Applied CS classes ran for 75 minutes and were held twice a week for 16 weeks in the fall semester of 2016. These classes, the first at the university for mobile app development, filled up quickly due to the buzz around the collaboration with Google, and 11 out of 12 students successfully completed the course.

Applied CS content enabled students to understand, apply and implement advanced data types using a mobile application platform that more than two billion devices run on today. The application development skills received provide something tangible that could be used after graduation to create software, products and even companies.  “A lot of these students get into computer science because they’re entrepreneurs and they need to understand the platform to generate revenue,” Dr. Gosha says.  “Learning coding in a platform-specific environment is a great way to prepare them both for CS or software engineering challenges, and exposes them to processes, and workflows they will encounter when using any platform or system for actually making their code run.”

Typical Graduate School Timeline

Year 1

  • Take graduate level courses
  • Identify a research advisor
  • Join a research group

Year 2

  • Take more grad-level courses
  • Take PhD Exams
  • Complete First Mentored Research & Paper
  • Complete Masters degree

Year 3

  • Identity Specific PhD Topic
  • Complete Preliminary PhD Research & Paper
  • Draft PhD Proposal

Year 4

  • Defend Proposal
  • Complete More Research
  • Write Research Papers

Year 5/6

  • Complete More Research
  • Write Research Papers
  • Write and Defend Dissertation

Identifying a Specific PhD Project


  • Potential Impact: Consider hot topics with care, Make sure topic/problem are important
  • Scale: Need more than one problem; results/finding
  • Scope: Not too narrow or too broad, open-ended

Options for finding topics

  • Read papers and attend talks in your area and others
  • Flash of brilliance (unlikely but possible)
  • Term project
  • Redo, re-invent, refine
  • Apprentice
  • Three to five (or n) papers = dissertation

How is Graduate School Different from College

  • Activities: all CS classes vs. variety of classes
  • Deliverables: Research contributions, papers, posters, presentation, proposals, dissertation vs. exams/class projects
  • Daily schedule: Flexible hours & open-ended deadlines vs course schedules
  • Modes of working: Innovating, experimenting, presenting, writing vs. studying, absorbing, solving known problems
  • Evaluation of success: Research contributions, PhD Exams, publications vs. exam scores, project grades

Masters vs. PhD

Master’s Degree

  • 2-3 years
  • Courses + Thesis Project
  • More attractive for industry/lab
  • Minimum for academic instructor
  • Limited opportunities to specialize
  • Often limited graduate study funding

PhD (Doctorate Degree)

  • 3-7 years
  • Courses + Research + Dissertation
  • Minimum for industry/lab research
  • Minimum for Academic position
  • Become expert in a particular research area
  • Easier to obtain RA/TA support


How to Apply to Graduate School

Deciding Where to Apply

  1. What areas of computing interest me?
  2. What type of degree am I considering? MS? PhD? Why?
  3. What type of academic climate do I want to study in?
  4. Do I have any geographic preferences? Any restrictions?
  5. What are my academic credentials? (GPA, research experience, test scores, communication skills)
  6. Who is on the faculty at the school I am applying to? Who would I like to be my advisor?

Preparing Application Materials (Pay attention to deadlines)

EVERY program is different, but most want: Application (basic contact info), Transcripts, Letters of recommendation (2-3), Statement of Purpose (Goals/Research/Intent). Resume, Test scores (GRE, TOEFL/IELTS), Fee.

Engaging Reference Letter Writers

  • Ask “Would you be able to provide a positive recommendation?”
  • Give them materials (transcript, resume, statement of purpose, chart of schools, deadlines, how to submit a letter) at least 2-3 weeks before first deadline.

Taking GREs

  • Take spring junior/fall senior years, retake if needed. If non-native English speaker take TOEFL, TOEIC

Finalizing Applications

Pay attention to deadlines, follow-up with letter writers, report test scores, request official transcripts

Financing Your Graduate Study

After application, apply for financing options like teaching assistantships, research assistantships, fellowships (NSF Graduate fellowship), other grants

Evaluating Offers

Spend time researching programs, visit the schools, meet faculty in your interest area(s), meet current grad students/alumni and ask about their experiences

Making the Final Decision

You will likely do well at any of top choices, make decision and inform schools, write thanks notes to letter writers, CELEBRATE!