The Minority-Serving Institutions Cyberinfrastructure Empowerment Coalition (MSI-CIEC), is a coalition of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC), Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) and the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO). These associations are, respectively, the national associations of Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs),Hispanic-serving Institutions (HSIs) and the nation’s only national membership association of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Predominantly Black Institutions (PBIs). The goal of MSI-CIEC is to initiate and foster a national cyberinfrastructure (CI)-enabled distributed education and research network providing e-science education and research opportunities to minority-serving institution (MSI) faculty and students. This novel collaboration is taking and developing a national MSI community-wide approach to address the intransigent problem of under-representation of Native Americans, Hispanics and African Americans in computational and data-intensive science and engineering (CDS&E). MSI-CIEC focuses on the adoption of CI at MSIs, because these institutions are the primary community- evolved and community-driven mechanisms for providing higher education to these minority communities. MSI-CIEC provides the “human middleware” – the social and technological mechanisms facilitating the necessary communication and support linkages between MSI faculty and students, and researchers associated with e-science and CI initiatives. The over-arching purpose is to expedite the purposeful adoption of CI by MSIs so that they may be meaningfully engaged in CI and current science and engineering (S&E). This is to help ensure that the approximately one-third minority science and engineering (S&E) graduates MSIs produce are prepared to engage in CI, CDS&E and current S&E as the next generation professoriate or other STEM professionals.
MSI-CIEC’s interest is in the development of the MSI community of institutions as a whole. To do this, it has proposed, evaluated and is refining strategies scalable to the broader TCU, HSI and HBCU communities. A significant strategy we have successfully developed, implemented and are refining is that of campus or regional “CI Days.”
CI Days help to raise the awareness about CI and CDS&E and their significance, assess the campus readiness for CI engagement, and help the campus strategically plan its engagement. The event also helps the MSI-CIEC team assess the existing status and readiness situation of MSIs, providing the team and colleagues at the MSIs with a better understanding of the nature of the challenges and ideas to address them. The latter is accomplished through formal evaluation, principally of the CI Day workshops, and analysis by the team of these evaluations and the findings from the campus assessment. CI Days has resulted in a number of CI related proposals, including in addition to MSI proposals and initiatives, one funded to test out CI Days at Research I institutions and other proposals for developing CI in EPSCoR states.