Joining the FCA

The ACM Future of Computing Academy (FCA) is in its second recruitment cycle, culminating on August 23rd. Having heard many questions around why one should apply — not to mention request recommenders’ precious time for endorsing these applications, we (Luigi and I) reflect below on what being in the FCA looks like to us and why it may be worthy of your consideration. Read along if you are curious.

The FCA was inaugurated in 2017. These two years have amply demonstrated that there is much to be gained from the individuals met and networks built through the FCA, which consists entirely of highly accomplished individuals driven towards shaping the future of computing. The work that has come out of FCA initiatives thus far is nothing short of inspirational, as it drives knowledge-sharing across fields of computing, and redefines best practices across publishing, conferences, computing education, and more (read more here). Two years is also long enough, however, to realize that it can be challenging for any group of early career professionals to remain well-resourced (in terms of time, attention, and funds) as they pursue their interests. Luigi and I are excited to move forward to address such challenges, and to ensure that FCA membership offers the space for individuals to be productively and effectively passionate, and to be recognized for their efforts in the process.

Our commitment is thus to ensure that the next two years (1) offer a positive and memorable experience to members and teams that are part of the FCA, (2) potentially add value to ACM’s existing initiatives while also introducing new ones, and (3) bring the various sub-fields of the computing discipline closer together. If you are excited about changing, improving, revolutionizing the discipline in ways that require you to go beyond your regular 9–5 job in industry, academia, government, or non-profit, then consider joining the FCA. You could be raising the bar when it comes to shaping best practices around diversity and inclusion, launching educational initiatives for girls in STEM in underresourced contexts, running podcasts to honor and celebrate interdisciplinarity across computing, among other projects. More importantly though, you might find others to support you in these goals, add voice and weight to them, thus making them more impactful and sustainable.

We’re beginning to take concrete steps towards these high-level goals, starting this month. After getting on the same page with current members and their projects, so we can collectively brainstorm around how these might benefit from additional support/members, we will maintain a per-project schedule that culminates with a post to be shared with the world. Additionally, we plan to organize monthly Bring Your Own Beverage (BYOB) video-conference sessions, aiming to sustain an open dialog for FCA members to share what they have learned/are learning from their projects, discuss new developments in their and other fields, or just sip their coffee and partake of what others have to share. Also, we aim to organize monthly information sessions on ACM’s initiatives and activities (e.g., AI for Good, etc.) to learn more about these, and build stronger bridges between FCA members and the ACM. A key emphasis throughout will be on communication — within the FCA, between the FCA and ACM, and between the FCA and the world — so that lessons might be learned, shared, and transferred across contexts. This is our plan for coming months, as we begin to bring new recruits on board. When we meet for our annual meeting in mid-December, we will also assess how well these approaches worked for us — as individuals and as a group — as we determine how best to move forward.

In sum, the FCA is a platform that has been established by the ACM to support motivated and driven individuals with a shared goal of changing the world. As members of the FCA, we aspire to identify the steps we might take day after day to meet this shared goal, being respectful and responsive to each other’s needs and priorities as we do so. If all this sounds like something you might get behind, please apply! If you have questions, or ideas for initiatives that you are passionate about and would like to promote, Luigi and I are here to answer any questions. If you have questions about the application process, instead, please email fca-membership@acm.org. We are greatly looking forward to new members who make up a richly diverse and representative FCA, where we are all in solidarity with each other and our multi-faceted aspirations for the future(s) of computing.

Neha Kumar & Luigi De Russis
(Chair & Vice-Chair, FCA)

Photo: Vek Labs on Unsplash


Joining the FCA was originally published in ACM Future of Computing Academy on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.