This past weekend I was lucky enough to attend (and speak at) the very first Tennessee Women in Computing Regional Grace Hopper Celebration. I know that a super long name which is why everyone calls is TNWiC. Here are some stats-at-a-glance from TNWiC:
- 180 attendees (TNWiC sold out and there was a waiting list!)
- 19 sessions
- 5 Lightning Talks
- 2 talks with “awesome” in the title (mine was one!)
Day 1 started with the keynote from Dr. Lynne Parker about what robotics can learn from nature. From flight patterns to hunting principles, robotics has a long way to go and a lot to learn from wolves, birds, and bees. One of my favorite things about robotics that Dr. Parker talked about is the diversity that’s needed in the field. Not just women, I mean backgrounds; everything from math to philosophy is relevant to robotics.
Following the keynote were two rounds of sessions, one featuring a talk by Ruthe Farmer (@ruthef) of NCWIT, The Power of Encouragement, and the other featuring the panel I was a part of, Thriving in a Man’s World. Ruthe actually mentioned me in her talk! She made a quick reference about how I became a CS major (my professor wrote on my test, “Do you have a major?”). She also talked about the NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing. If you know any high school girls who have an interest in technology, encourage them to apply! The panel I was on discussed advice for surviving the workplace. We answered questions about being mommy-tracked (well, I didn’t answer that one) and how to dress in the workplace and everything in between.
The second day was packed full of great sessions too! There were two sessions for the Distinguished Speakers, Dr. Valentina Salapura (IBM) and Dr. Vidya Setlur (Nokia). In additions there were lightning talks (I gave one!), technical presentations and an invited speakers session. During my session, Mobile: Be Awesome. And Hot., I got to talk about some of the cool features of Windows Phone 7 and show-off two ways of creating mobile apps that require little to no coding experience. If you’re interested in creating apps and games for the phone check out AppMakr, an RSS aggregator, and ScriptTD, a customizable tower defense game engine.
I always love the regional Grace Hopper conferences and TNWiC was no exception. The opportunity for meaningful local connections is so important and I’ ‘m grateful when I get to be a part of that process. I’m so proud of the organizers of TNWiC, it was a very successful first conference and I know it’s only going to get better.