CRA-W Sponsors MinneWic 2017

The 4th Regional Celebration of Women in Computing in the Upper MidWest (MinneWIC) was held on February 17-18, 2017 on the University of Minnesota campus in Minneapolis.

The program on Friday afternoon featured many poster presentations from students, both undergraduate and graduate, followed by a buffet dinner. After dinner, the keynote academic speaker, Andrea Danyluk, from Williams College, captured the audience by talking about “Machine Learning in the Natural Sciences, Social Sciences, and Arts”. She introduced what machine learning is, and described work that she has done with her students (all undergraduates) to use machine learning in areas as diverse as ecology and viola performance.

Three discussion groups, all meeting in parallel, followed. The discussions groups were proposed by participants. The largest group, aimed at undergraduates, talked about
“Campus organizations for Women in Computing: what, why, and how”. Graduate students had a chance to discuss in a smaller group “How to create a successful Women In Computing group for graduate students”, sharing their experiences. Faculty and professionals discussed the recently released report from AAUW on “Solving the Equation: The Variables for Women’s Success in Engineering and Computing”, sharing data, concerns, and success stories. The discussion groups were all a big success and a great way for attendees to share their experiences. Everyone stayed until late and was engaged in the conversation.

The activities on Saturday included an industry keynote speaker, Yvonne Ng, from TekSystems and President and Founder of Engineer’s Playground, who talked about “Searching for the perfect (computing) job… one woman’s journey”. She inspired the audience by going over her unconventional career starting as a young immigrant from China, to become an engineer, a faculty, an entrepreneur, and a computer consultant. Her talk was followed by a career panel with representatives from companies in the Twin Cities area, some lightning talks presented by attendees, and a graduate school panel with faculty and student representatives.

Industry representatives interacted informally with the participants, sharing information about their companies and job opportunities at company tables. Lunch concluded the program.

The celebration had 127 attendees, coming from numerous places in Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Illinois. Generous sponsorships from ACM-W, Microsoft, and CRA-W (via the Distinguished Lecture Series program) allowed program organizers to keep the registration fee significantly below cost and to provide scholarships to out of town students.

It was a big success.

“I intend to create a computer science group for women at my school”

“I will believe in myself more as a woman of technology”

“Having so many smart, successful women in computing around me showed me that anything is possible! “