Parallel Islands: A Diversity Aware Tool For Parallel Computing Education

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Virginia Tech

The rise in multiprocessors has led to the incorporation of parallel processing in virtually all segments of industry. Creation of and maintenance for the software to run these systems, as well as for the applications using these systems, requires extensive knowledge of the concepts and skills of parallel and distributed computing (PDC). This will naturally lead to an increase in the demand for software developers familiar with PDC and an increase in the demand for universities to incorporate PDC concepts into their curricula. Because there is a perceived difficulty in teaching PDC concepts, particularly early in the Computer Science (CS) curriculum there is a need to produce educational materials to assist with this expansion. At the same time CS education is wrestling with the surge in the need for graduates with PDC skills, it is also attempting to overcome a gender imbalance in CS. The necessity to create the materials required for increasing PDC education provides an opportunity to make strides in increasing diversity in CS as well. Therefore, Parallel Islands was created as a tool to aid in introducing PDC concepts in introductory CS courses in a manner that appeals to a wide diversity of students.

Parallel computing, Education, Diversity