Call for Participation

As computer science research students, we are quite an antisocial bunch. Each of us works in seclusion; our only feedback comes from sporadic contact with busy supervisors, or from the poor souls who will wade through our gigantic theses. A sense of isolation pervades our profession, and it puts us at risk. According to a recent study, a third of us will become disillusioned and drop out. Some will fail, while others will be forced to drastically rewrite their work. All of us are all navigating a maze of irrelevant tangents-for the most part, alone.

The solution for such workplace isolation is contact with like-minded peers; in our case, other students working on similar things. Those with such networks clearly have the advantage; they can share trials, get immediate feedback and new perspectives for their work and future plans. They are more motivated, efficient, and focused. Beyond their immediate research programs, their networks serve them throughout their careers. It is the age-old injustice at work; it's not what you know, but who.

So what is your network like? I can think of just one or two students with whom I regularly discuss research. Most of us are in the same boat; computer science departments in New Zealand are relatively small, and few have overseas connections. What about national ones? How many students do you know that are doing similar things in other universities around the country? Very few, I'll wager. Why is this? Why do we limit ourselves to own small departments, or travel all over the world to find like minded peers? Why is there so little collaboration going on at home?

The New Zealand Computer Science Research Student Conference (NZ CSRSC) was established in 1991 to foster a lasting community for people like us. Unfortunately it has been 5 years since the last one, and the sense of collaboration it generated has long since dissipated. It's high time we had another! So in April 2007, the 5th NZ CSRSC will be held at Waikato University. The ball is rolling; we have a venue, accommodation, and partial funding. We have great aspirations for a lively conference with interesting papers, prestigious guest speakers, and great social activities - all for a fee that is affordable for every computer science research student in the county.

But there is much more work to be done. The conference will only succeed if it is something we actually want and are willing to work for. So what do you think? Is this worth your time? Would you attend the conference? Would you submit a paper to it? Do you want a say in how it is run? Let us know, by filling out our questionnaire and dropping in to our forum.


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