Skip to main content

College of Engineering | July 14, 2023

NSF-CREEDS Empowers Educators to Ignite STEM Enthusiasm through Computer Science Research

Empowering El Paso STEM Educators NSF CREEDS


The National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded Cybersecurity Research Experience for Educators through Data Science (CREEDS) program, led by Drs. Deepak Tosh, Computer Science Assistant Professor, Martine Ceberio, Computer Science Professor and William Robertson, College of Health Sciences Dean, is making significant strides in fostering authentic research environments for middle/high school educators in the El Paso region. Collaborating with talented faculty from The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) Computer Science department, the program aims to equip educators with fundamental skills in computer science, cybersecurity, and data science, enabling them to better educate the next generation of students.

The participating teachers represent diverse independent school districts (ISDs) in the El Paso region, including EPISD, Socorro ISD, Canutillo ISD, Tornillo ISD, as well as public charter schools such as El Paso Leadership Academy and Harmony Public Schools. Each teacher has the potential to serve as an ambassador for the program and the field of Compute Science (CS), sharing their experiences and knowledge with colleagues at their respective institutions.

During the inaugural summer institute, eleven teachers engaged in multiple research projects under the guidance of CS faculty experts. Two teams researched into the development of cyber-hygiene strategies, focusing on facilitating secure and safe use of cyber-enabled technologies in day-to-day lives. With the prevalence of Internet-capable devices among middle/high school students, the cyber security implications are often overlooked. Led by Palvi Aggarwal, Ph.D., computer science assistant professor, teachers gain valuable insights into educating students about cybersecurity effectively.

Another team of teachers, mentored by Saeid Tizpaz-Niari, Ph.D., computer science assistant professor, worked on analyzing bias in the artificial intelligence-enabled software application, Correctional Offender Management Profiling for Alternative Sanctions (COMPAS). This project provided teachers with an understanding of data analysis and machine learning mechanisms to detect implicit bias in software applications, enhancing their ability to teach these concepts to their students.

Additionally, the two teams collaborated with Dan DeBlasio Ph.D., computer science assistant professor, to develop machine learning models that enhance the accuracy of multiple sequence alignment algorithms, a prominent research problem in bioinformatics. Through their research projects, the participating teachers gained hands-on experience and knowledge in cutting-edge areas of CS.

The teachers participating in the program received comprehensive training in CS and pedagogy foundations. The first two weeks of the institute focused on cybersecurity, problem-solving, and curriculum design, delivered by the program's principal investigators. The teachers received training on various CS topics, including advanced Python programming, data analysis, and machine learning. Subsequently, they conducted project-based learning activities in teams to address specific research questions related to cybersecurity and data science.

The NSF-CREEDS program empowers middle/high school educators by providing unique opportunities for engagement in high-priority and emerging research areas through project-based learning. “Through the CREEDS program, we have witnessed the power of bidirectional knowledge exchange between UTEP CS faculty mentors and the cohort of teachers. Moreover, by igniting excitement about computer science, cybersecurity, and data science among middle/high-school students, the program leverages the enthusiasm and passion of our teachers, transforming them into influential ambassadors within their classrooms,” Martine Ceberio, Ph.D., Co-PI of the CREEDS program commented.

The CREEDS program strikes a balance between technical and pedagogical content. The teachers experienced teaching techniques as both students and teachers, reinforcing their learning and preparing them to translate their newfound knowledge to their own classrooms.

“As a participant in the CREEDS 2023 Summer Research Program, I had an incredible learning and teaching experience. Collaborating with other secondary STEM teachers who shared the same passion for enhancing instruction through computer science concepts and tools was invaluable. My research focused on exploring the biased decision-making produced by AI, which was highly intriguing. The knowledge and skills I gained will directly impact my classroom, allowing me to explore mathematical content with a deeper connection to the expanding field of Computer Science. I am grateful for this enriching opportunity." Katrina N. Villalobos, CREEDS participant added.

Recognizing the impact of the CREEDS summer institute, Deepak Tosh, Principal Investigator of the CREEDS program commented, “It is truly remarkable to see how the participating teachers are leveraging their newfound computer science skills, gained from UTEP CS faculty members, to design innovative curricular modules for their classrooms. This transformative approach has the potential to inspire students to pursue STEM-related degrees and make a valuable contribution to addressing the pressing technology workforce needs of our nation."

This collaborative effort is expected to create a robust community of teachers and UTEP faculty, fostering a healthy pipeline of participants for future programs. For more information visit

College of Engineering Communications

[Engineering News Archive]