Careers: Interviews
Dr. Maria Klawe: Distinguished, Celebrated, World-Renowned Computer Scientist, President of HMC--past Dean of Engineering/Professor of Computer Science at Princeton University; former Dean of Science at UBC in Canada

This week, Stephen Ibaraki, has an exclusive podcast interview with Maria Klawe

Dr. Maria KlaweMaria Klawe became the fifth president of Harvey Mudd College (HMC) on July 1, 2006. Prior to joining HMC, she served as dean of engineering and professor of computer science at Princeton University. During her time at Princeton, Maria led the School of Engineering and Applied Science through a strategic planning exercise that created an exciting and widely embraced vision for the school. At Harvey Mudd College, she is leading a similarly ambitious strategic planning initiative known as "HMC 2020: Envisioning the Future."

Maria joined Princeton from the University of British Columbia (UBC) where she served as dean of science from 1998 to 2002, vice president of student and academic services from 1995 to 1998 and head of the Department of Computer Science from 1988 to 1995. Prior to UBC, Maria spent eight years with IBM Research in California, and two years at the University of Toronto. She received her Ph.D. (1977) and B.Sc. (1973) in Mathematics from the University of Alberta

Maria has made significant research contributions in several areas of mathematics and computer science including functional analysis, discrete mathematics, theoretical computer science, human-computer interaction, gender issues in information technology, and interactive-multimedia for mathematics education. Her current research focuses on the development and use of multi-modal applications to assist people with aphasia and other cognitive impairments.

Maria is a past president of the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) in New York, chair of the Board of Trustees of the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology in Palo Alto, and a trustee of the Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics in Los Angeles and the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute in Berkeley.

In the past Maria has held leadership positions with the American Mathematical Society, the Computing Research Association, the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, and the Canadian Mathematical Society. Maria was elected as a fellow of the Association of Computing Machinery in 1995 and as a founding fellow of the Canadian Information Processing Society in 2006.

Other awards include Vancouver YWCA Women of Distinction Award in Science and Technology (1997), Wired Woman Pioneer (2001), Canadian New Media Educator of the Year (2001), BC Science Council Champion of the Year (2001), University of Alberta Distinguished Alumna (2003), Nico Habermann Award (2004), and honorary doctorates from Acadia University (2006), Dalhousie University (2005), Queen's University (2004), the University of Waterloo (2003) and Ryerson University (2001).

To listen to the interview with Dr. Klawe, click on this MP3 file link

The latest blog on the interview can be found in the IT Managers Connection (IMC) forum where you can provide your comments in an interactive dialogue.


Podcast Interview Time Index (MM:SS) and Topic

00:50: The last time we talked, you were Dean at Princeton. What prompted your move to Harvey Mudd College (HMC)?

01:36: Any move comes with its share of challenges, which three were the most urgent issues you dealt with?

:08:11: What are the differentiators for HMC?

11:46: Elaborate on your vision, mission, objectives, and values behind your current roless at HMC. What do you hope to accomplish and how will you bring it about?

".......Our new vision focuses on six themes:
  1. Innovation, leadership and impact, especially in engineering, science and mathematics...
  2. Experiential and interdisciplinary learning...
  3. Unsurpassed excellence and diversity at all levels....
  4. Nurturing and developing the whole person....
  5. Global engagement and informed contributions to society....
  6. Infrastructure and resources to support our commitment to excellence and building community.........."
20:16: Delving deeper into the Clinic program....are you planning to engage in projects that are outside of your region that are international or maybe work on in a virtual sense?

22:22: Is there any interest with your students to get involved with social entrepreneurship? Global business plans?

24:50: Are you planning a further outreach with industry?

25:57: In a 2006 research study, it was noted that the US graduates 60,000 engineers yearly, the same as Korea with 1/6 the population. The number of China engineering graduates is 700,000 yearly. The predicted proportion of the world's scientists and engineers living in Asia by 2010 is 90%. What are long-term implications to this situation?

28:41: The Job Migration Task Force of the ACM conducted a two-year study which clearly indicates that to "stay competitive in a global IT environment and industry, countries must adopt policies that foster innovation and improve their ability to attract, educate, and retain the best IT talent." What solutions do you propose to address the issues raised here and in the last question?

32:24: Part of the study quoted earlier provides added figures:
2.6% US female freshmen intending to major in Engineering in 2006;  0.3% US female freshmen intending to major in Computer Eng.;  0.2%US female freshmen intending to major in Electrical/Electronic Eng.
How would you propose to address this situation?

35:53: There's talk of an skills shortage and skills gap in the ICT space. This comes from a declining supply at the entry funnel, immigration difficulties, and looming retirements. Can you comment on this?

36:54: What does your research indicate about the burgeoning China-based market? What about India?

38:31: Can you comment on any outreach programs that you have in the Asia (China, India, Japan) space?

40:51: You are continually selected as one of the top researchers and senior academics. How do you wish to continue to shape the world and contribute to the fabric of history?

42:15: If you could sum up your life experiences with career tips for our audience and the ICT professional, what would be your tips and the reasons behind them?
  1. Fail openly and often.
    ...constantly aim higher than you think that you can achieve.... be able to acknowledge that one is failing and learn from your mistakes...
  2. Take the time learn something that you are naturally bad at. learn how to learn much better from working on something which is difficult for you...
  3. It doesn't matter how successful you become, there is no excuse for not treating others with respect....
  4. Be crazy 20 percent of the time...(could be less), but don't spend all of your time trying to optimize your career or whatever.
    ....take some time to do something that is totally unrelated.......
  5. Generally it is very important to get feedback from others about what you are doing. will actually do better hearing from people who don't like what you are doing...than just from hearing from people who are your supporters....
  6. Don't polarize or depolarize.
    ....the world is not black and white but many shades of grey and the more people realize that and keep an open mind the better off we will all be......
46:41: If you were conducting this interview, what 3 questions would you ask, and then what would be your answers?


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