Submitting‎ > ‎

Graduate Consortium (Call for Participation)

Important Dates:
Submission by e-mailFriday 3 June 2016 
Notification of final decisionFriday 24 June 2016 
Camera-ready deadlineFriday 15 July 2016
Consortium dateSunday 4 September 2016

Recent advances in computing have led to continually deeper integration between computers and human society. People now live surrounded in socio-technical systems that synthesize large numbers of contributing users with vast amounts of source code. Examples include social media systems, open source repositories, online marketplaces and massively multiplayer online games.

Yet as these socio-technical systems have grown in complexity, they have become increasingly difficult for humans to understand and direct toward productive ends. For example, when people put data into a system, they may be unable to anticipate and control how their data will be used by other people or by software in the system. When they take actions in the system, they often cannot foresee and manage unintended effects on other users, software, or the system as a whole, particularly because the software part of a system often contains defects.

The goal of the 2016 VL/HCC Graduate Consortium is to explore ways to help find easier ways to learn, express, and understand computational ideas, which can include ways to visualize, analyze, or tailor large socio-technical systems or information generated by them. This may include development of novel methods and techniques, models and tools, such as programming environments. At a deeper level, it may include developing new theory for predicting the complicated, unstable, sometimes emergent behavior that results when large numbers of diverse, unpredictable humans are coupled to unreliable software.

Why You Should Participate

  • Present your work to a smaller, more attentive audience before the conference
  • Get detailed, critical, constructive feedback from a diverse panel of experts
  • Meet other students working on similar problems prior to the main conference
  • Compete for travel funding (pending approval), to help cover your cost of attending VL/HCC
NSF funding has been granted to support student travel. All students are eligible to receive some funding (please see below), regardless of location or nationality.

Who Can Participate?

The consortium is open to both master’s and PhD students worldwide. Participation is particularly encouraged from PhD students who are close to proposing a thesis, as well as from members of groups identified by NSF as underrepresented in the sciences and engineering. If multiple applicants from a particular university apply for the consortium this year, then no more than two per university will be selected to participate. To be eligible, each applicant may have participated no more than once in the VL/HCC graduate consortia of past years.

Application Process

Email the following items with VLHCC16-GC in the subject line to Anita Sarma <>:
  • A 2-page research abstract, formatted as a PDF in the standard IEEE Conference Proceedings format. NOTE: Accepted participants’ abstracts will be included in the conference proceedings. To make it easier for you to write a successful abstract, we provide examples from past years below.
  • Your curriculum vitae (CV), as a second PDF file. This CV should mention whether you have previously participated in any graduate consortia at any conferences.
  • A letter of recommendation sent directly by your thesis advisor. This letter should summarize your accomplishments and describe how far along you are in your master’s or PhD program, why attending the GC this year would be important for you, and please ask them to mention if you have already attended VL/HCC GC in any past year. In addition, if you are a member of a group designated by NSF as underrepresented, then the letter may mention this fact.

Selection Process

For one-third of the slots, students who have participated once before will be given priority. The remaining slots will be given to students who are new to the event. Each student from the returning group will be linked with new students in a mentoring arrangement. See Who Can Participate above for additional selection criteria.


Selected students will be asked to present a poster on their work at the Showpieces Reception during the main conference. Details will be provided to accepted applicants.

Travel Support

We are happy to announce that we have received a grant from the National Science Foundation to support participation by students from US universities. This funding will cover:
  • Airfare
  • Lodging
  • Meals
For non-US participants, we expect to be able to cover conference registration.
All GC participants will have their conference registration covered.


The consortium event will be a full day the Sunday before the main conference. All participating students are expected to attend the main conference. Other conference attendees are invited to attend the consortium, to listen to the presentations, to interact with participants, and to give feedback to presenters. More details will be provided, including times and locations.

Examples of Successful Applications

To be successful, a submission to the VL/HCC Graduate Consortium generally has to have the following parts:
  1. The paper starts with a sentence or two that describes a real-world setting.
  2. It then identifies a problem in that setting.
  3. The remainder of the paper's introduction outlines an approach for solving that problem.
  4. In a subsequent section, the paper describes a prototype or preliminary study showing the feasibility of that approach.
  5. The paper explains why more work is still required in addition to this prior work.
  6. The paper concludes by describing future work that will build on this prior work in order to finish completing the approach.
  7. Somewhere along the way, the paper explains how the approach builds on, or differs from, other related work.
We have annotated three excellent submissions that exemplify the pattern described above. We hope that you will find these examples thought-provoking and helpful as you design your own submission this year.

Panel Members and Organizers