Responding to the need for leadership to develop a cross-campus task force to create a vision and program plan for a transformational initiative in interdisciplinary computing, Provost Constancio Nakuma has appointed Computer Science and Electrical Engineering Professor Douglas Sicker to a two-year term as chief computing officer and special advisor to the provost, effective immediately. Sicker will retain his role as senior associate dean for computing within the College of Engineering, Design and Computing on a reduced load basis while serving in this interim capacity.
Studies show significant job growth in computing and tech talent in the Denver metro region. Positioning CU Denver as a provider of workforce talent for the state in key growth areas is why the campus needs to organize for interdisciplinary conversations and leverage faculty expertise in these areas, Nakuma said.
“As an equity-serving, urban research university determined to make education work for all, CU Denver understands that creating opportunities for broader access to cutting-edge programs in interdisciplinary computing, including computational thinking, programming AI, data science, and other aspects of computing is an important first step in a more comprehensive strategic vision,” Nakuma said. “I can’t think of anyone better to lead our efforts in this field than Dr. Sicker, whose expertise in network systems, wireless systems, cybersecurity, and public policy will be a great asset to the task force as they plan our computing future.”
The task force, to be appointed and charged by Nakuma and Chancellor Michelle Marks, will analyze existing assets and assess workforce capacity in the context of the campus Strategic Plan. In addition to the visioning, the task force will identify high-value projects to pursue in the next three years, which will likely include new degree programs in data science and cybersecurity, new modular credentials in computing writ large, recommendations for complementary research programs, and computing infrastructure.
“CU Denver sits at the perfect place and time to broaden access to computing skills and resources for students,” Sicker said. “As we initiate this task force, it is with the recognition that computational approaches will be tailored to our various colleges and departments, but that we have a unique opportunity to rethink the potential of the many roles that computing should play in all of our students’ studies in an integrative manner. Our goal is to enhance all areas of study by weaving computational thinking into them, also creating an environment where the complex problem-solving skills that are so in demand are ubiquitously accessible to our student body. This will be a critical ingredient in fostering equity and play a vital role in conferring a meaningful advantage to our students.”
Sicker, who joined the CU Denver faculty last year, came from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), where he was the Lord Endowed Chair Professor in Computer Science and Engineering. At CMU, he served as a department head in Engineering, as well as interim director of the CyLab Institute for Security and Privacy, the nation’s leading center for cybersecurity. Sicker also has extensive experience and notable accomplishments at high levels in both the private and public sectors.
He served the nation as Chief Technology Officer (CTO) for the Federal Communications Commission and later as CTO for the Department of Commerce (NTIA). In his roles as CTO, Sicker led numerous government initiatives related to our national broadband infrastructure and spectrum management. Prior to his service in government, he was the director of global architecture at Level 3 Communications, now Lumen.