What's Up Lately at ACM India - Another “New Year” Edition

Hello all India members of ACM:

Today being Ugadi, Gudi Padwa, Cheti Chand, Navreh, and Sajibu Cheiraoba, wishing you all a very happy new year! With festivals such as Eid-ul-Fitr, Baisakhi, Bohag Bihu, Mesh / Pana Sankranti, Pohela Boishakh, Puthandu, Sangken and Vishu around the corner, greetings for the plenty of festive occasions lined up for the rest of the week. Incidentally April also marks the start of new financial year FY24-25 in India.

Looking back at the past quarter, we have had many occasions to celebrate at ACM India level as well. But before giving you a glimpse of them, here is an appeal to all the professional members to make a new year resolution today to vote for the upcoming ACM global and ACM India elections slated for May! Casting your vote is critical in electing a council representative of the community. We have historically suffered from a very small percentage of members voting, at India as well as global level, and it’s time to change it. Note that professional members in India are entitled to vote for both the ACM India and ACM council elections, since all members in India are ACM members first. So keep an eye out for the announcement of election dates and please vote.

In the previous edition of this newsletter, I had already mentioned about the ACM India awards Outstanding Contribution to Computing Education (OCCE), Outstanding Contributions in Computing by a Woman (OCCW), and Doctoral Dissertation Award (DDA) for 2023 which were announced by then. Soon afterwards the ACM India Early Career Researcher (ECR) award for 2023 was announced, which went to Siddharth Barman of Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. And the ACM India Student Chapter awards went to six highly motivated student chapters across India for their participation and contributions in diverse activities. We thank Persistent Foundation for sponsoring the ECR award over the years, and Walmart Global Tech for coming on board as the brand new sponsor for the Student Chapter awards!

Early February saw the launch of ACM India’s prestigious research networking event “Pingala Interactions in Computing” at Mysore campus of Infosys, which was a major success by any standards. Attended by eight eminent laureates in computing and 48 young researchers from academia and industry who represent the future generation of computing leadership, we received a uniformly positive feedback about the content, interactions, and logistics of the event. Encouraged by the response, we expect it to be not only a highly sought-after event organized by ACM India, but also a pathfinder for ACM organizing similar activities around the globe.

Pingala was followed by our annual symposium for students ARCS (including the ACM India-W Summit for Women in Computing), and the flagship ACM India Annual Event at NISER Bhubaneswar. As usual the events featured keynotes and interactions with veteran and early career contributors to computing as well as presentations by students on their [about-to-be] published work.

Another highlight worth mentioning this year is that video recordings of all the sessions of these events have been made available as online courses on NPTEL platform. View them here: Pingala , ARCS, Annual Event.

The Celebration of Women in Computing event by ACM India-W was hosted by the Pune Institute of Computer Technology on 24 th February 2024. The event included keynote sessions, panel discussions, networking opportunities and various other exciting activities. On the previous day, the final round of the Lady Ada Programming Contest was conducted. Ten women students from all over India were the finalists, and Anushka Allawadi emerged as the winner.

It seems like the ACM India winter schools got over just yesterday, but the plans for summer school 2024 are already afoot. The number of applications is approaching 500 for the six summer schools. These schools are open to all students in computing, Bachelors students and beyond, whether ACM members or not. As usual, there is a school (on compiling for AI/ML this time) exclusively for women students, but in general we ensure parity of gender, geography, (aspirational vs elite) institute while accepting students for each school. While the original application deadline is 10 th April, we are finding that many students are yet to finalize their summer break and internship schedules. As a result we are extending the deadline to 17 th April. Nevertheless, spread the word among your student network to apply for the summer schools right away. A separate announcement about this will follow shortly.

Research Opportunities in Computer Science (ROCS, pronunciation ROCKS!) is a recent ACM India initiative to expose undergraduate students in (mainly aspiring) institutions to exciting research happening in the country in various areas of computer science. The hope is to inspire them to choose a career in research in industry or academia. It is a one-day event, typically on a Saturday with 4-5 talks on multiple areas of computer science. Some events also include an “Ask me Anything” session to discuss questions from the participants, talks outlining entry procedures in various institutions, and a panel discussion among the speakers. Recent events at IIT Bombay, IIT Madras and NIT Trichy have been big hits, with another session coming up on 13 th April at IIT Hyderabad.

Last month we announced the Anveshan Setu Fellowships for 2024-25. Here 46 PhD students will pair up with mentors from academia and industry for an opportunity to get up close and personal with best research practices outside their parent institute, for a longer and more intense mentoring experience beyond ACM India PhD Clinic \. Like most of our initiatives where we aim big (and make it happen!), the target is to develop Anveshan Setu into a premium-value program over the next three years —something that every CS/IT PhD student in India would aspire to participate in their PhD career.

Through this glimpse of activities, hope you get a sense of ACM India’s focus on providing mentoring and education, encouraging research, providing recognition and visibility across the board. Underlying all the initiatives is the continuous effort to be inclusive and equitable on aspects such as gender, geography, institution status, and careers.

Let me wrap up with an open invitation to implement ACM India’s mission by participating actively, whether you are a student, research professional or practitioner. Feel free to reach out to me for any clarifications.




Hemant Pande, PhD

Executive Director, ACM India

[email protected]