Submitting‎ > ‎

Graduate Consortium

Recent advances in computing have led to continually deeper integration between computers and human society. People now swim in a sea of socio-technical systems that synthesize large numbers of contributing users with vast amounts of source code. Examples include social media systems, open source repositories, online marketplaces and massively multiplayer online games.

Yet as these socio-technical systems have grown in complexity, they have become increasingly difficult for humans to understand and direct toward productive ends. For example, when people put data into a system, they may be unable to anticipate and control how their data will be used by other people or by software in the system. When they take actions in the system, they often cannot foresee and manage unintended effects on other users, software, or the system as a whole, particularly because the software part of a system often contains defects.

The goal of the 2013 VL/HCC Graduate Consortium is to explore ways to help people visualize, analyze, and tailor large socio-technical systems. This may include development of novel methods, models and tools, such as programming environments. At a deeper level, it may include developing new theory for predicting the complicated, unstable, sometimes emergent behavior that results when large numbers of diverse, unpredictable humans are coupled to unreliable software.

Why should you participate?

  • Present your work to a smaller, more attentive audience before the conference
  • Get detailed, critical, constructive feedback from a diverse panel of experts
  • Meet other students working on similar problems prior to the main conference

NSF funding has been granted to support student travel. All students are eligible to receive this funding, regardless of location or nationality.

Who can participate?

The consortium is open to both master’s and PhD students worldwide. Participation is particularly encouraged from PhD students who are close to proposing a thesis, as well as from members of groups identified by NSF as underrepresented in the sciences and engineering. If multiple applicants from a particular university apply for the consortium this year, then no more than two per university will be selected to participate. To be eligible, each applicant may have participated no more than once in the VL/HCC graduate consortia of past years.

Application process

Email the following items with VLHCC13-GC in the subject line to Scott Fleming <>:

  • A 2-page research abstract, formatted as a PDF in the standard IEEE Conference Proceedings format. NOTE Accepted participants’ abstracts will be included in the conference proceedings. To make it easier for you to write a successful abstract, we provide examples from past years below.
  • Your curriculum vitae (CV), as a second PDF file. This CV should mention whether you have previously participated in any graduate consortia at any conferences.
  • A letter of recommendation sent directly by your thesis advisor. This letter should summarize your accomplishments and describe how far along you are in your master’s or PhD program. In addition, if you are a member of a group designated by NSF as underrepresented, then the letter may mention this fact.

Selection process

For one-third of the slots, students who have participated once before will be given priority. The remaining slots will be given to students who are new to the event. Each student from the returning group will be linked with new students in a mentoring arrangement. See Who Can Participate above for additional selection criteria.


Selected students will be asked to present their work at a poster session during the main conference. Details will be provided to accepted applicants.

Travel support

NSF has granted funding to support participation, including:

  • Full conference registration
  • Travel stipend ($470 for domestic travel, $1050 for international)
  • Shared hotel room for full VL/HCC conference
  • Dinner and lunch during the graduate consortium


The consortium event will be a full day the Sunday before the main conference. All participating students are expected to attend the main conference. Other conference attendees are invited to attend the consortium, to listen to the presentations, to interact with participants, and to give feedback to presenters. More details will be provided, including times and locations.

Examples of successful Graduate Consortium applications

To be successful, a submission to the VL/HCC Graduate Consortium generally has to have the following parts:

  1. The paper starts with a sentence or two that describes a real-world setting.
  2. It then identifies a problem in that setting.
  3. The remainder of the paper's introduction outlines an approach for solving that problem.
  4. In a subsequent section, the paper describes a prototype or preliminary study showing the feasibility of that approach.
  5. The paper explains why more work is still required in addition to this prior work.
  6. The paper concludes by describing future work that will build on this prior work in order to finish completing the approach.
  7. Somewhere along the way, the paper explains how the approach builds on, or differs from, other related work.

We have annotated three excellent submissions that exemplify the pattern described above. We hope that you will find these examples thought-provoking and helpful as you design your own submission this year.

Panel members and organizers

Important dates

Submission of applications by email
Friday 7 June 2013

Notification of final decision
Friday 21 June 2013

Camera-ready copy
Friday 28 June 2013

Consortium date
Sunday 15 September 2013