A.I. Education Workshop: 

Expanding Capacity and Diversity in Lifelong AI Education 

Funding Agency: NSF

PIs: Dr. Mary Lou Maher, Dr. Razvan Bunescu

Period: 2023-2024

Award Amount: $99,804


Summary:  The goal of this NSF-funded workshop on AI education is to bring thought leaders together to respond to the increasing concerns and opportunities raised by recent AI developments to discuss directions for lifelong AI education. The workshop participants developed strategies for increasing the scope, capacity, and diversity of AI education across the lifespan, including K-12, post-secondary, adult workforce, and public education. 

Black Research Support Network: Studying Change By, With, and for Black Undergraduate Computer Science Faculty & Students at Three Institutions

Funding Agency: NSF

PIs: Dr. Dale-Marie Wilson and Dr. Marlon Mejias, (UNC Charlotte), Felesia Stukes (Johnson C. Smith University).

Period: September 1, 2022-August 31, 2025

Award Amount: $769,149

Summary:  This project will address several aspects of the racial inequities often faced by Black undergraduate students in the field of computer science research, such as access to capital (social and economic), research topics relevant to their experience, hidden curriculum, and threats to belonging. It will tackle systemic barriers through a research support network for Black undergraduates attending two Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs; Howard University and Johnson C. Smith University) and one Predominantly White Institution (PWI; University of North Carolina Charlotte), combining multiple evidence-based approaches to provide mutual support towards institutional change that addresses racial inequity. The research support network will include: 1) mentoring by both Black graduate students and Black faculty, 2) culturally and socially relevant research topics and experiences, 3) Black researcher affinity groups, and 4) a Black researcher speaker series. The project will study the impacts of this holistic approach on participating Black undergraduate students? sense of belonging within the field, computer science research skills, and intention to pursue a graduate career. Through its evaluation, the project will explore the impacts of the collaboration between HBCUs and a PWI on institutional policies, programs, and practices; impacts on faculty; and Black students? graduate school applications, acceptances, and financial awards/support. This proposed work will advance the knowledge base for addressing systemic barriers and racial inequities in computer science undergraduate programs while simultaneously evaluating the potential impact these efforts can have on participating institutions and on Black students? matriculation into graduate school. This project is funded through the Racial Equity in STEM Education program (EHR Racial Equity). The program supports research and practice projects that investigate how considerations of racial equity factor into the improvement of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and workforce.

Assessing Equity in CS Education in Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools

Funding Agency: UNC Charlotte Gambrell Fellowship

Project PI: Dr. Xiaoxia Newton, College of Education

Co-PIs: Dr. Audrey Rorrer, College of Computing & Informatics

Period: 2024

Award Amount: $18,000

Summary:  This project will explore whether and how computer science learning opportunities in Charlotte might vary depending on factors like student population, school characteristics, and community wealth. The pair will utilize integrated data leveraged through the Charlotte Regional Data Trust, which includes longitudinal data on CMS schools, DSS Economic Services, Homeless Management Information Systems, and Crisis Assistance Ministry. The research will apply a pre-established model called the CAPE framework — measuring students’ capacity for, access to, participation in and experience of computing coursework — to assess equity in Charlotte’s computer science education. 

The ultimate goal is identifying common obstacles to a computing career path in the hope of helping more students from underrepresented backgrounds gain a valuable skill set that could unlock economic opportunity later in life.

#YouBelong: Navigating Graduate Education Workshop

A one-day workshop of presentations and activities around computing and engineering research and "US"!

PIs: Dr. Dale-Marie Wilson, Dr. Marlon Mejias, (UNC Charlotte), Dr. Jody Marshall (UNC Charlotte), Gloria Washington (Howard University), Felesia Stukes (Johnson C. Smith University).

Period: Feb 25, 2022

Award Amount: $14,500

Summary:  This workshop aims to increase the number of Black students that pursue MS and PhD degrees in computing at UNCC, HU and nationwide. To facilitate increasing numbers of Black students that pursue and successfully complete graduate school, we have 5 objectives grounded in interventions that address racial inequities and systemic racism: - Research Enculturation - Framework for enculturating black undergraduates into the culture of undergraduate research that includes access to resources - Affinity Group Programming - Experiences that afford the development of Black students’ identities and mindset in computing through the exposure to Black computer faculty, researchers and peers with access to formal, near-peer and peer mentors - Community Building - Access to affinity groups to facilitate increased sense of belonging among Black CS students - Pipeline - Pipeline to PhD granting institutions - Evaluation - Evaluate the effectiveness of the workshop: See website for workshop details (


ACE-IT! (Advancing Computer Education): This is an initiative to ensure that all faculty have the opportunity to learn how to develop their courses using innovative approaches to engaging students and ensuring that all students have the potential to succeed regardless of their preparation before arriving in their major in CCI. This initiative started with the Connected Learner Summer Institute and is now an initiative of the Center for Education Innovation and Research. 

ACE-IT! Director: Dr. Harini Ramaprasad 

ACE-IT! Development: Dr. Mary Lou Maher, Dr. Tonya Frevert, Dr. Nadia Najjar, Dr. Celine Latulipe

Period: Started Summer 2020, ongoing

Summary:  The goal of ACE-IT! Is to provide support for computer science course development that complements the training provided by CTL. The ACE-IT! Modules will represent best practice and innovation in CCI and will include specific course modules and complete Canvas course content from existing CCI courses.

CIC Diagnostic Grant Study

Funding Agency: Center for Inclusive Computing 

Contacts: Dr. Mary Lou Maher, Bojan Cukic, Fatma Mili, 

Colleen Karnas-Haines 

Period: 03/ 09/ 2021 - 03/ 09/ 2023

Award Amount: $60,000

Summary: We conducted an interview study to understand the experience and struggles of women students in CS at UNCC. The goal of the study was to determine the reasons for women students' attachment and detachments to CS. Based on the results from the interviews, specific interventions were planned for broadening participation in CS. 

Page Link:

Duke Energy STARS Scholarship Leadership Program

STARS Leadership Program: Duke Energy Scholarship

Funding Agency: Duke Energy

Contacts: Dr. William Tolone, Lijuan Cao, Audrey Rorrer

Award Amount: $750,000

Summary: Duke Energy STARS Scholars demonstrate a strong commitment to support diversity and to cultivate an environment of inclusion in computing. This commitment is demonstrated through academic or extra-curricular activities, school or community service, volunteer activities, or through independent thought and personal expression.

Student Application Portal

IUSE:EHR: The Effects of Course Structure and Sociality on the Success of Intersectional Groups of Students in Computing Education 

Funding Agency: NSF

PIs: Mary Lou Maher, Tonya Frevert, Audrey Rorrer, Marlon Mejias, Jamie Payton,  Andrew Rosen, Gene Kwatny, John Fiore, Celine Latulipe

Period: 07/01/2021 - 6/30/2024

Award Amount: $356,996

Summary:  This collaborative project between UNC Charlotte and Temple University aims to serve the national interest by improving undergraduate student success in computer science courses. To do so, it will study relationships between student success and the course climate and teaching practices of their computer science courses. It will further analyze these relationships for students with intersecting identities, such as women who are first generation college students. This project will explore the relationship between active learning and cooperative course climate on students with intersecting identities, including race, gender, and social class. The knowledge generated by this research has the potential to improve student success in computer science and thus broaden participation of individuals from groups that are not yet equitably represented in computing.

Latulipe, C., Tadimalla, S. Y., Maher, Mary Lou, Frevert, T., Mejias, M., Payton, J. Rorrer, A., Fiore, J., Bell, L., Kwatney, G.,Rose, A. (2022). Developing CALI: An Inventory to Capture Collaborative Active Learning and Inclusive Practices in Introductory CS Courses, Proceedings of 2022 Frontiers in Education (FIE) Conference.

REU Site: Making Future Communities

REU Site:

Making Future Communities: Infrastructure and Interaction Design for Cyber-Physical Systems

Funding Agency: NSF

PIs: David Wilson, Heather Richter Lipford 

Period: 2/1/2018 - 1/31/2022

Award Amount: $323,997

Summary: This Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Site engages a diverse group of 10 undergraduate students each summer in an intensive 9-week research experience. The goals of the REU Site program experience are to increase interest in attending graduate school, to enhance preparation for careers in research and innovation, and to broaden participation of underrepresented groups in the field of computing. To achieve these goals, the REU participants work together with faculty, graduate students, and peers to gain experience and better understand how computing research can have societal impacts.

Website link and application portal:

RPP Collaborative Research

RPP Collaborative Research: Developing a Systemic, Scalable Model to Broaden Participation in Middle School Computer Science (STEM + C)

Funding Agency: NSF

PIs: Mary Lou Maher, Lijuan Cao, David Pugalee, Audrey Rorrer, Mohsen Dorodchi

Period: Period: 12/01/2018 - 11/30/2022

Award Amount: $502,822

Summary:  This project will build on a long-standing Research-Practice Partnership (RPP) between NC State University's Friday Institute for Educational Innovation and a middle school in Wake County Public School System to deepen the RPP to further develop conceptual, theoretical, and applied frameworks for CS/CT. Additionally, the project will scale this RPP work to another newly-forming CS/CT focused magnet through a developing partnership with UNC Charlotte and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools to replicate the RPP for a new "Computer science and coding" magnet program. Since mathematics and science classes are taken by all middle school students, the project will use this academic context as the focus of the project's work.

NRMS Computational Thinking curriculum Website 

STARS Computing Corps: 

STARS: Building Capacity, Igniting Action, and Fostering Community for Broadening Participation in Computing at a National Scale

Funding Agency: NSF

PIs: Audrey Rorrer, Manuel Perez Quinones

Period: 11/1/2019 - 10/31/2024

Award Amount: $335,957

Summary: The goal of this project is to expand the reach and impact of the STARS Computing Corps to develop university leadership to broaden the participation of women, underrepresented minorities, and people with disabilities in computing, at a national scale. Check out the BPC Research Toolkit and Scholars Program. Applications are open year-round for research scholarships!

STARS website

Collaborative: Carolina Cyber Defender Scholarship

SFS Carolina Cyber Defense Scholarship CyberCorp(R) Scholarship for Service (SFS) Program

Funding Agency: NSF, OPM, and USDHS

PIs: Bei-Tseng (Bill) Chu, Heather Richter Lipford, Mohamed Shehab, Weichao Wang, Ehab Al-Shaer

Period: Period: 8/1/2017 - 7/31/2023

Award Amount: $ 1,180,213.00

Summary:   The Scholarship for Service (SFS) Program is designed to recruit and train the next generation of cybersecurity professionals to meet the needs of Federal, State, local, and tribal government. This program provides scholarships for cybersecurity undergraduate and graduate (MS or PhD) education funded through grants awarded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). 

IUSE: Transforming Grading Practices in the  Computer Science Education Community

Funding Agency: National Science Foundation

PIs: Audrey Rorrer, Manuel Perez Quinones

Period: Period: 7/1/2023 - 6/30/2028

Award Amount: $ 441,432

Summary:   This project will seek to transform grading practices across the community of CS educators and  learners to address inequities in grading practices by creating a unified theory of equitable grading for computing  education (UTEG-CE). In order to successfully transform traditional grading practices, which reduce achievement, discourage students, and suppress effort, we will engage the  community of educators in this space. Computing education faculty will be guided towards these  changes with support of a community and with tools to help facilitate this change. This transformation will  incorporate a variety of equitable grading practices, some for grading by hand, others supported within  various automated grading systems. For example, one grading strategy informing this transformation is  specification grading. Specification grading is a form of mastery grading.

Website Under Construction

E-SHIIELD: Enhancing Security education in Hybrid mobile and IoT firmware through Inclusive, Engaging Learning moDules

Funding Agency: NSF

PIs: Meera Sridhar and Harini Ramaprasad

Period: 12/15/2019-05/31/2023

Award Amount: $512,101

Summary:  Improvements in advanced cybersecurity education are necessary to strengthen the nation’s cybersecurity workforce, including efforts to ensure diversity in the cybersecurity workforce. This project has two overarching goals: (1) to develop curricular materials relating to web-based (hybrid) mobile apps and Internet of Things (IoT) firmware security, and (2) to strengthen the nation's workforce, especially for current and future generation students from underrepresented groups. Toward the above goals, this project will create and broadly deploy two courses in the web-based mobile app and IoT security technology spaces. The courses will incorporate state-of-the-art educational techniques that address challenges that instructors face in teaching these advanced cybersecurity topics. Using multiple methods of instruction and rapidly-changing course materials, the faculty will employ inclusive and engaged educational strategies for promoting diversity in advanced cybersecurity.

The primary goals of this project are to develop, deploy, evaluate and disseminate course modules in the areas of hybrid mobile apps and IoT firmware security. The courses will be designed as stackable modules for easy integration into existing courses, and broadly disseminated under a Creative Commons license. Additionally, the courses will be designed to align with NSA/DHS Centers for Academic Excellence (CAE) Knowledge Unit requirements to incentivize CAE institutions to adopt them. The scope of the course modules will range from junior and senior level undergraduate courses to graduate level courses. Modules will target students pursuing various degree programs in cybersecurity at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC) and extend more broadly to students pursuing Computer Science degrees at UNCC and other institutions. Specifically, the project will train faculty at five North Carolina universities (including HBCUs and community colleges) on the course modules, to deploy them at their universities. The project will also include a K-12 IoT Roadshow at five Title I Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. The course modules will adopt the Inclusive Curriculum Framework and mploy state-of-the-art educational strategies aimed towards improved student learning and engagement. Modules will support multiple class modalities (face-to-face, hybrid, online). The course modules will also ensure accessibility and inclusivity in the concept, content, delivery, assessment, feedback and review.

This project is supported by the Secure and Trustworthy Cyberspace (SaTC) program, which funds proposals that address cybersecurity and privacy, and in this case specifically cybersecurity education. The SaTC program aligns with the Federal Cybersecurity Research and Development Strategic Plan and the National Privacy Research Strategy to protect and preserve the growing social and economic benefits of cyber systems while ensuring security and privacy.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

Previous Projects


Bridges: Bringing Real-world Data and Visualizations to CS courses, Project Web Site

Funding Agency: NSF

PIs: Dr. Kalpathi Subramanian, Dr. Erik Saule, Dr. Paula Gookasian, Dr. Jamie Payton

Period: 8/15/2017 to 7/31/2021

Award Amount: $551,216

Summary: BRIDGES is an NSF TUES and NSF IUSE supported project which:

3 C's for PACE: for CS that includes participation, access, capacity and experience!

3C's for PACE: This is a CS education capacity building initiative. In this  think tank collaboration,  faculty from the CCI, College of Education, and regional K12 teachers work together to design a micro-credential for middle school teachers in CS. This initiative is funded by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion's Inclusive Excellence Grant.

Project PI: Dr. Xiaoxia Newton 

Co-PIs: Dr. Audrey Rorrer, Dr. David Pugalee

Period: 2022-2023

Summary:  This project, Teacher Professional Development for Cultural Competence in Computer Science (PD for C-3), will develop  middle school teachers’ capacity for delivering high quality and equitable instruction in Computer Science across various STEM content areas by addressing a critical need: teacher training and certification. PD for C-3 advances several goals relevant to UNCC’s 10-year strategic aims, including (1) urban schools and university partnership; (2) Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; and (3) Access and Social Mobility. Our pilot project invites urban middle school teacher leaders as both participants and equal partners in building curriculum materials for a new teacher micro-credential for Cultural Competence in Computer Science (CS). The micro-credential focuses on developing a CS curriculum that is centrally anchored around cultural competence in computer science. Trained teachers are necessary in order to provide a high quality computer science education to middle school students and to prepare them for advanced study of CS in high school. Computer science knowledge and skills enable individuals to pursue economic opportunities that contribute to upward social mobility.

The Connected Learner Project

IUSE/PFE:RED: The Connected Learner: Design Patterns for Transforming Computing and Informatics Education

Funding Agency: NSF

PIs: Mary Lou Maher, Bojan Cukic, Larry Mays, Celine Latulipe, Steven Rogelberg, Audrey Rorrer, Tonya Frevert

Period: 6/1/2015 - 9/30/2021

Award Amount: $2,250,648 

Summary:  The Connected Learner Project is a re-orientation of undergraduate computing education to focus on student learning that connects to peers, the profession, and the community. We envision to transform: 


CISE REU Evaluation Toolkit Extension

CISE REU Evaluation Toolkit Extension

Funding Agency: NSF

PIs: Audrey Rorrer, Heather Richter Lipford 

Period: Period: 10/16/2016 to 09/30/2019

Award Amount: $ 192,555.00


Exclusion Response Workshops

Based on Augusto Boal’s “Theatre of the Oppressed” model for rehearsing social change. 

Funding Agency: NSF

PIs: Celine Latulipe, Tonya Frevert, Sarah Provencal

Period: 8/1/2018 - 9/30/2021

Award Amount: $250,000

Summary:  Augusto Boal created "Theatre of the Oppressed" for non-actors as a way to rehearse social change. His technique uses participatory methods to explore issues facing us as a community and brainstorm responses to difficult and/or oppressive scenarios. Exclusion response workshops, based on Boal's method, are workshops where we use theatre techniques to rehearse how to react to overt or covert instances of exclusion, particularly in STEM. ​The exclusion response workshops are a fun and active way to navigate difficult discussions around race/ethnicity, sex/gender, social class, LGTBQIA+, and religious discrimination. We have facilitated exclusion response workshops at national conferences and at universities for students, faculty, and employees.

GAANN Fellowship

GAANN Fellowship Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need

Funding Agency: NSF

PIs: Min Shin, Zbyszek Ras, Srinivas Akella, Heather Lipford, Mohamed Shehab

Period: 10/1/2018 to 8/31/2021

Award Amount: $248,750

Summary:This program provides fellowships, through academic departments and programs of IHEs, to assist graduate students with excellent records who demonstrate financial need and plan to pursue the highest degree available in their course study at the institution in a field designated as an area of national need. 

Website link and application portal:



Funding Agency: NSF

PIs: Mohsen Dorodchi, Bojan Cukic, Roslyn Mickelson

Period: 10/16/2017 -010/15/2022 

Award Amount: $999,999

Summary:The I-PASS Scholarship Improving the Persistence and Success of Students from Underrepresented Populations in Computer Science, is funded by NSF. The scholarship is part of a broader program designed to support the enrollment and graduation rates among student populations that are historically underrepresented within the computer science discipline.

Interactive Learning Analytics

EAGER: An Interactive Learning Analytics Framework based on a Student Sequence Model for understanding students, retention, and time to graduation

Funding Agency: NSF

PIs: Mary Lou Maher, Mohsen Dorodchi, Wenwen Dou, Xi Niu

Period: 07/01/2018 - 7/31/2021

Award Amount: $ 298,486.00


Goal 1: Knowledge Discovery: What new patterns of student behavior and performance can be identified through the exploration of student sequence data that can predict risk and success for student performance, retention and graduation?


Goal 2: Interactive Framework Design: What are the critical design features of an interactive learning analytics framework that facilitate and sustain a comprehensive and interactive analysis of student sequence data?

Goal 3: Deployment Study: What are the barriers and opportunities for university administrators, advisors and faculty to engage in evidence-based decisions and interventions using the interactive learning analytics framework?


Goal 4: Storytelling: What are the benefits of including student stories as a complement to analytic results? How can a student temporal data model be used to automatically construct a narrative about the student?

Al Doulat, A., and Maher, M.L. (2022). FIRST: Finding Interesting Stories About Students - An Interactive Narrative Approach to Explainable Learning Analytics, Proceedings of EduLearn 2022. 

MAKER: Making Prosthetics for Kids

EAGER: MAKER: Making Prosthetics for Kids - Socially Relevant Making to Catalyze Diversity & Engagement in STEM Learning

Funding Agency: NSF

PIs: David Wilson, Richard Chi

Period: 07/17/2017 to 06/30/2019

Award Amount: $ 298,186.00


This exploratory research project is studying socially-relevant Making in the context of an on campus university Makerspace. Project studies are developing best practice models of how informal STEM learning through Making can be leveraged to improve the effectiveness of both informal and formal learning approaches, as well as to increase retention and broaden participation in STEM education for students and faculty. This is being studied across both secondary and post-secondary levels in partnership with a local engineering-focused high school. Project research is grounded in a specific socially-relevant challenge problem: designing and fabricating prosthetic hands for children who need them. Challenge problem activities are connected directly to real world context and outcomes in partnership with a nonprofit organization that specializes in facilitating and providing 3D printed recreational prosthetic hands free of charge for children with limb differences.