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Computer science graduate receives Google-CAHSI Dissertation Award

Emmanuel Utreras, whose doctoral research would allow visually impaired children to learn computer programming, recently graduated with his Ph.D. in May 2021 thanks to the Google-Computing Alliance of Hispanic Serving Institutions Dissertation Award.

Utreras, who grew up in Puerto Rico, is among 11 students in the country to receive the award in fall 2020.

CAHSI together with Google Research and the Center for Minorities and People with Disabilities in Information Technology and Diversifying Future Leadership in the Professoriate joined together to establish the award to help doctoral students from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds complete their dissertations.

After earning his degree in electronics and technology in Puerto Rico, Utreras began his studies in computer science at NMSU in 2014. Three years later, he became a Ph.D. candidate focused on the human-computer interaction field.

“The profession currently faces low representation among the visually impaired population,” Utreras says. “My project will help children with visual disabilities build programming skills and awaken their interest in the computer science field.”

Utreras ultimately wants to return to Puerto Rico as a faculty researcher.

“I want to actively participate in research training programs focused on underrepresented minorities, and encourage students to pursue a doctorate degree in STEM.”