The College of Computing and Informatics (CCI) at UNC Charlotte is one of the most comprehensive and most innovative colleges of computing in the country. With over 100 faculty and staff and nearly 3,500 students, and graduates more than 1000 Bachelors, Masters, and Ph.D. holders a year. Organized in four academic units, CCI has distinct research strengths in AI & Machine Learning, Cybersecurity & Privacy, Computational Bioinformatics & Genomics, human-centered design, and CS education. Located in Charlotte, the largest and fastest growing city in the Carolinas, CCI engages with the community and neighboring industries around common Social, Research, and Development initiatives. The College is an active partner for innovation with every major industry in the region.
The College’s curricula, pedagogy, and administrative structures are designed to be agile, adaptable, and socially responsible. CCI enrolls and graduates one of the most diverse student populations. CCI graduates the largest number of women, the largest number of Black students, and the largest number of Hispanics. It was featured in a 2020 CACM article and presented as a model of success for other institutions. At the master level, CCI has been broadening its offerings to meet the growing needs of lifelong learning for professional development and personal growth.
The College has a vibrant and innovative research program with a current annual expenditure of more than $10M/year. Seven faculty members are NSF Career awardees and five were ranked among the top two-percent of scientists in the world based on the study conducted and published in 2020. The CCI faculty and programs rank in the top 40 in almost every metric. Expertise in the college is clustered around the scientific foundations of computing and algorithms; the engineering of complex, high performance, reliable, and secure computing systems; the nature and quality of collaborations between humans and computing systems; and the use of computational methods to understand, predict, and affect biological and human systems. By design, the college’s research is driven by a balance between an unbounded curiosity for fundamental questions and an urgent sense of mission to affect the important issues we face as a society. Cross-pollination between the researchers and the disciplines is highly encouraged and supported. This is what led for example to the creation of the School of Data Science, a school grounded in CCI and composed by faculty from every discipline in the university interested in the application and use of data analytics to a wide range of areas from genomics, to political science, to education.
The college has more than 20 faculty members whose primary area is primarily in Artificial Intelligence. Research includes machine learning, natural language processing, computer vision, robotic collaboration, augmented reality, visualisation, and high performance computing. Our research is supported by NSF, NIH, DOE, DARPA, and DoEd. Two CCI teams each received a $1M for AI from the NSF convergence program. Four of our faculty are CAREER awardees and one is an AAAI Feigenbaum Awardee. Research centers in the college include the Ribersky Center for Visual Analytics, which promotes the science of visual analytics and advances in interactive visualization for attacking key real world applications. The college, through SDS, runs an annual conference on data analytics, highly attended by the local fintech and other industries, among other national attendees. CCI also houses an IUCRC site in Visual and Decision Informatics. We have partnerships in AI with the Electric Power Research Institute, Intel, Lowe’s, Wake Forest University Health Sciences, and Duke University Medical Center.
For more than 20 years, cybersecurity and privacy has been a cornerstone of CCI’s education and research. CCI was one of the first colleges to obtain the designation of Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education and Research by the National Security Agency in recognition of the the wide range of cybersecurity educational programs and cutting-edge research conducted by its faculty and students to enable industry and government professionals to protect their organizations from cyberthreats. CCI hosts an annual symposium in Cybersecurity every fall, attended each year by more than 700 faculty, students, and professionals. CCI also houses an IUCRC site in Cyber Security Analytics and Automation.
In line with the national trend towards cross disciplinary research with a focus on impact, CCI has been growing its research imprint and collaboration as measured by the number of collaborative proposals, the number of ongoing collaborations with other disciplines and the focus on mitigating current and future risks. The relevance and impact of the research of our bioinformatics faculty in understanding the genetic signatures of viruses and their mutational trajectories came to full light during Covid-19 epidemics and reinforced the need to redouble these areas of focus. The application of their work to wastewater testing in student living spaces was featured in the New York Times in 2020.