Our pipeline leading students to research

The Institute is modeled as a pipeline of educational activities leading to the final phase, a paid internship program in which students work for a month of the summer, mentored by established scholars or technologists in their field of interest.

The pipeline consists of the following steps, which are all free of cost, and the final of which pays the students. Picking and choosing is fine: they do not have to be done in order.

any time from 6th grade up

serious computer programming for youth workshops – a 10-hour workshop that teaches to program in python, on Linux, with emphasis on the command line and using a programming editor.

after the workshops

drop-in fortnightly mini-courses, in which students write small programs in a wide range of research-related areas, from visualization to mathematics to science to digital humanities and more.

research skills academy

a 3-week summer program aimed at immersing students into the variety of non computational techniques that the Institute considers important for a young researcher.

math and science working groups

working groups of students who want to go beyond what is taught in their schools, including Taylor series, Fourier series, numerical solutions to differential equations, and physics with calculus.

after tenth, 11th, or 12th grade

paid summer internship – a 4-week summer program in which students are paid to work full time on a single research project.

The pipeline materials are taught from free/open-source/open-access web books written by by co-founder Mark Galassi, a research scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, with significant contributions from current and former students in the pipeline.

Please contact us with questions on any of these steps – email: mark@galassi.org – phone: +1-505-629-0759.

Summer Research Internship Program 2024

What we offer

We offer a paid research internship program for students in Santa Fe (NM), Portland (OR), and Austin (TX) who are finishing 10th – 12th grade. We pay students a stipend so they can work full time on their research for 4 weeks: July 8-August 2 2024. Students are paired with a world class researcher who mentors them in this period.

About the Institute

We are a consortium of scientists and students who develop advanced computing methods applied to physical science, life science, social science, arts, and humanities. Our goal is to develop the best ways to train young students to do research.

Students:

We seek applicants from a broad range of backgrounds and interests. Please view our web materials and follow the instructions to apply. Note that the prerequisites listed on our web site must be satisfied well before the internship begins.

Principals and Faculty:

Please refer your very motivated 10th, 11th, and 12th grade students for this summer’s internship program.

Apply by clicking here

Flyer for summer 2024

Please download the flyer linked here and pass it around!

Mentoring a student at the Institute

Our mentors are active scholars, scientists, or technologists who have a research project to propose to one of our interns, and are available to do a small bit of following them as they work on it. There is no restriction on what mentor and student decide to do, as long as it can be developed with free/open-source software tools.

We pay the interns to work full time on this project for 4 weeks in the summer. (Example: 2023 will be from July 10 to August 4.) Their skills are varied, but we have taught them all (a) linux command line, (b) python, (c) a programming editor, (d) a bit of LaTeX.

We have deliberately designed the mentor duty to be light. For example, there is no need to help our interns debug code: they get plenty of help from their cohort and from our Institute-wide chat rooms which involve interns from difference cities and volunteers. Students also benefit from on-site support, so there is no need to monitor their energy.

We have observed a whole spectrum of mentor involvement, from occasional interaction to frequent contact. In the former case the students learn more independence, and in the latter case they can learn more of the mentor’s specific technique – so in both cases it works well.

Topics that students have worked on come from a very broad range. We have seen projects in ecology, genetic sequence alignment, cognitive science, pure mathematics, physiology, linguistics, physics, digital humanities, art, music, electrical engineering, information technology, astrophysics, machine learning, DNA memory, cybersecurity, … And we would like to see even more academic areas! The project might involve modeling, data analysis, simulation, …

And we recommend that the project be close to the mentor’s area. Even if students come in with a strong feeling for what they want to work on, it’s often good for the mentor to have them work in an adjacent field – this way interns develop a unique combination of skills which is very important to position them for research and for college admissions. But… we are not part of the process: student and mentor figure it out together. Another thing to remember in the choice of project is that the student is not hiring a private tutor – they are paid to do research, and do need to work on the project the mentor finally guides them to.

Some time well before the start of the internship we introduce mentor and student with a brief videoconference. The mentor might propose a reading list for the student to get prepared and learn the background, and they could even settle on some project details ahead of time.

A typical week in the interaction might consist of the following: a videoconference once every week or two, and an exchange of email a couple of times/week. Student and mentor will usually converge on a rhythm, and there is quite a bit of variation: some mentors might follow more closely.

And remember: we are all researchers – the Institute is engaged in the lifelong research project of the best way to do transfer of know-how from mentors to interns. This means finding ways for busy mentors to work with students, without it having too much impact on the mentor.

Please contact Mark Galassi at mark@galassi.org – or call +1-505-629-0759 (voice only) if you might be able to propose a project to a student!

Summer Research Internship Program 2023

What we offer

We offer a paid research internship program for students in Santa Fe, NM and Portland, OR (and tentatively Socorro (NM) and New York City) who are finishing 10th – 12th grade. We pay students a stipend so they can work full time on their research for 4 weeks: July 10-August 4 2022. Students are paired with a world class researcher who mentors them in this period.

About the Institute

We are a consortium of scientists and students who develop advanced computing methods applied to physical science, life science, social science, arts, and humanities. Our goal is to develop the best ways to train young students to do research.

Students:

We seek applicants from a broad range of backgrounds and interests. Please view our web materials and follow the instructions to apply. Note that the prerequisites listed on our web site must be satisfied well before the internship begins.

Principals and Faculty:

Please refer your very motivated 10th, 11th, and 12th grade students for this summer’s internship program.

Apply by clicking here

Flyer for summer 2023

Please download the flyer linked here and pass it around!

The Institute for Computing in Research opens in Austin this July 11

As we start our fourth internship season in Santa Fe and our second in Portland, OR, this coming Monday, July 11 2022, the Institute for Computing in Research will open up in Austin, TX.

The Austin pilot will have 6 students from high schools in the Austin area. They will work with world-class mentors on topics in physics, computer science, linguistics, and cognitive science.

Once again we are being helped by well-organized institutions: the Austin cohort is made possible by donations from Optiver, which is sponsoring a significant portion of the program and hosting us in their offices.

Given what we have seen from our students in Santa Fe and Portland, and given the credentials of the students in this cohort, we expect very interesting research to come out of the Austin pilot. This will continue to contribute to the answer to our key question:

how can you craft a well-balanced pipeline of young students that leads to real research?

Mark Emry, from McNeill high school, will be directing the Austin cohort, joining our remarkable team consisting of Rhonda Crespo, who directs the entire Institute and works on site with the Santa Fe interns, and Maria de Hoyos who directs the Portland program.

A good application for the Institute?

Here are some notes on what mentors might want to see in a young researcher, and what might be distractions and side shows in how they present their application.

A background thought to all of this is that you should be thinking of yourself as a college sophomore or junior, not a middle or high school student.

Another background thought is that many of the applications from a given city appear to have indistinguishable resumes. This is often because there is a buzz in that city that channels the students into certain competitions so that they can prove how good they are. What we do at the Institute is very different: we do research, and we strive to fit into the collaborative stream of the research world. You should certainly be happy with what you have achieved in competitions, but it is only relevant here if you have turned that work into something useful that becomes a lasting product for others to use.

So here are some specific ideas that you might want to consider when you allocate space on your resume and cover letter.

Thoughts on resume categories

We are a research program, not a STEM program. STEM fields are only some of the areas in which people do research. We see too many applications that seem too focused on computer science.

Lack of engagement ahead of time. Before you apply tou need to engage with us about your research interests and your intention to train for research. Otherwise we will view your application as a “resume dump” and are unlikely to take it seriously.

Audience. Immerse yourself into a researcher or scholar or artist who wants to work with you. Write things that help them decide quickly if you are a good fit. Remember: they are busy.

Passion for an academic area or research problem. This should stand out clearly: what you want to do for yourself and the world. Beware of canned statements of passion.

Programming knowledge. The bare minimum is the “Serious Computer Programming for Youth” workshop, after which you should learn how to apply programming to your area of interest. This could be political science, physics, psychology, economics, music, art, biology, computer science, pure math, digital humanities, or any other subject. One good way to do this is to join the mini courses after the workshop: we apply programming to many academic areas.

You do not have to be an advanced programmer. You do need to learn the programming we teach you, but you should not shy away from research just because you programming is not your top hobby. Many research projects require rather simple programming skills.

A unique combination of skills. How the various interests you have pursued make you unique.

Past writing. If you have written essays then it would be great to see these available in a blog post. If you have written technical documentation and tutorials then they should be online as well.

Past research projects. This would be a nice thing to report. Make sure you have put written materials in an online blog, and any accompanying software in a public repository, released under the General Public License or another free/open-source license.

Linux experience. The bare minimum is the “Serious Computer Programming for Youth” workshop, but an application would gain from stating a plan to go farther in using programming editors and the command line, which are crucial research tools.

Usefulness of past advanced programming. If your thing is advanced programming then you should demonstrate that what you have done is useful by contributing code to a community software project with a free/open-source license, or even creating and leading such a project yourself. This should be published with a free software license on a public source code repository, like on a gitlab instance or on codeberg or github. Put the code there, specify GPLv3 as your license, and you have something cool. Please do not emphasize STEM competitions or prizes: they are loosely related to research, and they do nothing to differentiate you from others. If a competition led to a useful project for the world then we will be happy to see how you published that project. We will not care about prizes, unless they are internationally recognized achievements, like being a chess master or an author published in a serious journal.

Teaching and outreach. This is wonderful and always welcome.

Something outside of school and typical extracurricular activities. Your resume should show that you have crafted your own path to learn disparate things.

Problematic

(remember: people are busy!)

Please avoid:

  • More than one page for cover letter.
  • More than one page for resume.
  • Statements that are obvious, like “excellent written and verbal communication skills”, or “team player”, or “fast learner”… Just point to the papers you’ve written that are online, so we can see how you communicate. This can be summarized as “list hard skills, not soft skills”. We will expect everyone to have soft skills, or to develop them very quickly before they start, so your resume should list the hard skills.
  • Don’t put goals or objectives in the resume. In the cover letter you can present research interests, and maybe you can also state how the research interests are part of a career plan.
  • Do not say “references available upon request” – it is a strange thing to say. For the Institute application you will have them sent to us directly, so don’t mention references.
  • Photographs of you. It might seem like a nice idea, but scholars would be put off. Maybe save the photos for a resume for acting jobs.
  • Do not put work or school email addresses. Use a personal email address.
  • Do not have a paid competition coach or college prep coach write your recommendation letter.

How technical people look at resumes

For some fun, and some insight, look at:

https://web.archive.org/web/20151026052123/http://stevehanov.ca/blog/index.php?id=56

it has some dated bits, but it is still mostly valid.

Other no-nonsense technically oriented resume discussions are at:

https://web.archive.org/web/20151023065248/http://www.toofishes.net/blog/why-i-do-my-resume-latex/

and

https://web.archive.org/web/20100116015552/http://www.inter-sections.net/2007/11/13/how-to-recognise-a-good-programmer

Summer Research Internship Program 2022

What we offer

We offer a paid research internship program for students in Santa Fe, NM and Portland, OR who are finishing 10th – 12th grade. We pay students a stipend so they can work full time on their research for 4 weeks: July 11-August 5 2022. Students are paired with a world class researcher who mentors them in this period.

About the Institute

We are a consortium of scientists and students who develop advanced computing methods applied to physical science, life science, social science, arts, and humanities. Our goal is to develop the best ways to train young students to do research.

Students:

We seek applicants from a broad range of backgrounds and interests. Please view our web materials and follow the instructions to apply. Note that the prerequisites listed on our web site must be satisfied well before the internship begins.

Principals and Faculty:

Please refer your very motivated 10th , 11th , and 12th grade students for this summer’s internship program.

Apply by clicking here

Flyer for summer 2022

Please download the flyer linked here and pass it around!

The Institute for Computing in Research opens in Portland today

After our third internship season in Santa Fe, New Mexico, we start a pilot for the Institute for Computing in Research today (August 2, 2021) in the Portland, Oregon area. We will pay six students to work full time on research for most of August 2021.

Last fall we were contacted by someone suggesting that Portland might be a good place to implement this type of paid internship for high school students.

The Institute’s approach of focusing entirely on real-life research with a mentor (including research in non-STEM areas, and a research-oriented approach to applied technology), largely inspired by the internship experience of Los Alamos National Laboratory, does not have a counterpart in the Portland area, where the many excellent summer opportunities are focused more narrowly on engineering, and do not offer the cross-pollination of an academically diverse scholarly community. In addition, the emphasis on advanced scientific computing, deeply rooted in software freedom, is unique to the Institute.

We tugged at threads in the Portland area and found excellent people willing to design and run a program there based on our blueprint in Santa Fe. They have been helped by well-organized institutions: the Beaverton Round is offering us office space, and the Oregon Community Foundation is funding the Institute’s pilot program.

In addition, scholars at Portland State University, Reed College, and Oregon State University have been invaluable in helping explore the issue of:

how can you craft a well-balanced pipeline of young students that leads to real research?

We will have mentors and guest lecturers from these universities in this pilot program (as well as some far-flung lecturers, since remote lecturing is now a “thing”).

We have had three very successful years in Santa Fe, and we expect remarkable work from these six founding students in the Portland area. It looks like two will work in computational biology, two in natural language processing, one in pure math, and one in AI and game theory.

I myself am in tears of joy as I see all this happening, and I am very grateful to the volunteers who crafted the Portland program, our program manager who is working on site with the students, and the scholars from Portland area universities who are mentoring our students.

The three professional workshops we will teach in June

The Institute for Computing in Research offers professional training for teachers on how to prepare students for research internships.

To join point your browser to https://meet.jit.si/SantaFePD or download the jitsi mobile app at https://jitsi.org/downloads/ and join the room SantaFePD

In June of 2021 we will offer the following three (virtual) workshops. Click on the links below for detailed information:

These workshops are free (though space might be limited). We hope to see many teachers, and sometimes their students (for the writing and project management workshops)!

Please contact Mark Galassi <mark@galassi.org> for more information, or call +1-505-629-0759 (voice only).

We thank the Computer Science Alliance and the Santa Fe Public Schools for helping us develop and put on these workshops.

Project Management for Students

A Santa Fe Professional Development Workshop June 21+22

The Institute for Computing in Research
The Computer Science Alliance

(Sign up with email to mark@galassi.org) (please distribute our PDF flyer to teachers, or point them to this post) (preparation instructions)

To join point your browser to https://meet.jit.si/SantaFePD or download the jitsi mobile app at https://jitsi.org/downloads/ and join the room SantaFePD

The Institute for Computing in Research and the Computer Science Alliance will host a professional development workshop, aimed at CTE teachers in Santa Fe as well as students involved in long research projects. This online course will be taught by Rhonda Crespo (Director of the Institute for Computing in Research), Mark Galassi (Los Alamos National Laboratory), and Rowan Jansens, Madelyn Kingston, and Mohit Dubey (New Mexico School for the Arts and Los Alamos, winners of the Supercomputing Challenge).

Our goal is to create a culture of students managing projects, and to give guidelines and formats for teachers to help foster these self-organized teams.

This course is recommended for students involved in any long-term effort, such as theater production, art installations, software development, engineering projects, business ventures, . . . and for their teachers.

This workshop is free for teachers and students, but space is limited, so please sign up by email soon!

Individual make-up is possible if you have to miss some of the time slots.

Times below are in US/Mountain time zone

Session 1 – Monday 2021-06-21 – 3pm-5:30pm

15:00 Opportunities for student research in New Mexico.
15:45 discussion
16:00 “Long lead” versus “short lead” aspects of a project: crafting a “bill of materials” for your project.

Session 2 – Tuesday 2021-06-22 – 3pm-5:30pm

15:00 Panel discussion with the dream team from the Supercomputing Challenge.
16:00
Understanding both the good and the buzzwords in Agile project management.
16:45 Software as the highest complexity driver of schedule.