Radev receives provost grant to develop linguistics mentorship program

Dragomir Radev

UMSI Professor of Information Dragomir Radev received a $15,689 grant from the U-M Office of the Provost’s Transforming Learning for a Third Century (TLTC) initiative. The award will support a program Radev has proposed to train U-M students to serve as mentors to high school students interested in linguistics and computational linguistics. 

Computational linguistics is an interdisciplinary field that connects linguistics, computer science, and information science. The technology behind the Google search engine, Google Translate and Apple Siri is based on the work done in these communities and requires a thorough understanding of both human language and computer technology. 

Radev’s program will seek to identify U-M undergraduate students who are interested in computational linguistics, regardless of their area of study. Radev will prepare a curriculum consisting of lectures, readings, and group and individual activities that would familiarize the undergraduate students with the science and technology used in modern computational linguistics. During the process, the students will not only learn new things, but they will also be expected to present what they have learned to interested high school students.

The pilot program would pair undergraduate students with high school students from the greater Detroit area. The undergraduate students will then help prepare the high school students for the North American Computational Linguistics Olympiad (NACLO), an annual competition in which high school students solve linguistic puzzles.

The top students from NACLO qualify for the Canadian and U.S. national teams that compete in the International Linguistics Olympiad. Radev is a founding program chair of NACLO and coach of the U.S. team.

Through his involvement with NACLO and the International Language Olympiad, Radev has aimed to create challenging and stimulating problems that address cutting edge issues in computational linguistics, a rapidly emerging field with applications in such areas as search engine technologies, machine translation, and artificial intelligence. This pilot program will build on his previous efforts and seek to prepare high school students for studies and careers in linguistics and computational linguistics.

The TLTC award program represents the funding mechanism associated with creating new, engaged learning experiences for U-M students. The program is part of the Third Century Initiative, a plan from the U-M president and provost to foster the development of forward-thinking approaches to teaching and scholarship at U-M for the university’s third century.

Posted April 14, 2015