The Computer and Information Sciences and Engineering Department of the University of Florida sponsored several students to attend the Grace Hopper Celebration this past October 4th – 6th in Orlando, FL! Several INIT members were able to attend (Dr. Lisa Anthony, Aishat Aloba, and Annie Luc) and experience the inspiring talks from amazing women leaders in technology. This year, there were 18000 people in attendance! It was incredible to be surrounded by such an amazing group of women and men dedicated to promoting women empowerment in technology.
The conference started off with an inspirational keynote by Melinda Gates, co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, an organization created to aid in solving large world problems in healthcare and education. She spoke of her experiences that shaped her career and presented tips on how to reach even more women in technology. Several pieces of advice she gave were to start early in engagement, combine computing with other passions, and remember that not all careers need to fit a 4-year ‘pipeline’.
During the conference we were able to hear from several other incredible women from both industry and academia, including Dr. Fei-Fei Li from Stanford University, Mary Spio from CEEK VR, Debbie Sterling from GoldieBlox, and Dr. Ayanna Howard from Georgia Institute of Technology, just to name a few. A fellow UF Assistant Professor, Dr. Aysegul Gunduz, also received an ABIE award as an Emerging Leader. Throughout the conference at least three simultaenous tracks of panels, technical talks, and presentations were held in the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando. Each of these talks were empowering and challenged all of us to make a difference every day. From robotics to VR to technology for social good, there is no end to the industries affected by computing.
I am a 4th year Computer Science student at the University of Florida. This was my third Grace Hopper Celebration and I am extremely fortunate to have been able to attend. This conference always serves to empower me and remind me of my passions and drive in studying Computer Science. I am currently working on the TIDESS project in the INIT lab. I am interested in learning how we can design engaging and effective interactive displays for children and adults in a museum setting.