from the president
ATTRACTING YOUNGER, NEXT- GENERATION members is a challenge faced by profes- sional societies worldwide. ACM recognized early on
that as a volunteer-driven organization,
our future health depends not only on
appealing to a diverse membership,
but also on creating a pipeline of future
leaders. We are in the process of devel-
oping new strategies to motivate recent
graduates to get involved with ACM. In
the meantime, I’d like to tell you about
two programs that have already struck
a chord with early-career professionals.
Both were designed to offer young technologists and researchers the opportunity to network with peers from around the
globe and to hone their leadership skills
through personal interactions with more
The ACM Future of Computing
Academy (FCA) was created in 2016 to
help shape the future of our organization. It brings together talented young
professionals from a broad range of
computing subdisciplines and institutions—academia, research labs, established companies, and startups—who
want to perform valuable services for
the community while expanding their
professional networks and leadership
experience. FCA members identify and
implement pilot projects that address
challenging issues facing our organization and the computing field in general.
They work closely with ACM leadership,
bringing new ideas/perspectives and
helping to integrate successful pilots
into ACM’s institutional practices.
FCA members are selected biennially through a highly competitive process
similar to those used for ACM awards.
This summer’s recruitment attracted
hundreds of applications from around
the globe, resulting in 36 new members.
The expanded membership represents
17 countries on all six inhabited continents. It is an extremely diverse group,
in terms not just of gender and geography but also type of organization and
disciplinary interests. Learn more about
the FCA and its activities at https://www.
The Heidelberg Laureate Forum
(HLF) is an annual event where young
researchers in computing or mathematics share the scientific stage with world
leaders who have been recognized with
the ACM A.M. Turing Award, ACM Prize
in Computing, Abel Prize, Fields Medal,
or Nevanlinna Prize. ACM partnered
with other leading scientific organizations to launch HLF in 2013. The event
provides a unique opportunity for
young researchers to interact with some
of our industry’s greatest innovators.
HLF’s week-long program is a carefully
crafted mix of research updates, panels
on controversial issues in the computing and math fields, group discussions,
and informal social activities.
Approximately 200 young researchers
are accepted each year for HLF, which
takes place in Heidelberg (Germany) at
the end of September. As with FCA, the
application process is extremely compet-
itive. Participants include undergradu-
ates, postgraduate students, and post-
docs in approximately equal proportion.
The 2019 event hosted 202 young researchers from 60 nations, 120 male
and 82 female, many of them with interdisciplinary backgrounds. I strongly encourage young researchers to apply for
next year’s event. As you read this, the
application portal has opened for the 8th
Annual HLF, slated for September 2020
https://application.heidelberg-laureate-forum.org/; the deadline is Feb. 14, 2020).
As a professional society, ACM
leadership recognizes that the key to
our long-term sustainability is to engage
the ideas, energy, and enthusiasm of new
generations. We must create opportunities for young professionals to grow their
careers and give back to their communities through ACM. The ACM Future of
Computing Academy and Heidelberg
Laureate Forum are two examples where
we have already seen success. But the
journey has just begun. I encourage each
of you to join in and help us explore the
future of ACM. Share your own ideas
with us about how to serve our growing community in new and forward-thinking ways.
Cherri M. Pancake is President of ACM, professor emeritus
of electrical engineering and computer science, and director
of a research center at Oregon State University, Corvallis,
Copyright held by author/owner.
DOI: 10.1145/3368441 Cherri M. Pancake
Generations of ACM Leaders
1988 ACM A.M. Turing Award recipient Ivan Sutherland (fourth from right) visits with young
researchers at the Heidelberg Laureate Forum last September.