This article is published in the June 2017 issue.

Expanding the Pipeline – Simply Smarter: 2017 Tapia Conference Celebrates Diversity

The 2017 ACM Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing is being held September 20-23 in Atlanta, Georgia. This year’s theme, Diversity: Simply Smarter, evokes the basic yet irrefutable concept that diversity is a winning choice. Research by social scientists has repeatedly shown that teams made up of diverse members have a greater potential for innovation than homogeneous teams. Whether we seek innovation, intelligence, creativity, strength, or beauty of ideas, the best outcomes come from a diverse set of perspectives, a diverse set of experiences, and a diverse set of people.

The overarching goal of the Tapia Conference is to bring together undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, researchers, and professionals in computing from all backgrounds and ethnicities. The attendees and presenters will celebrate the diversity that exists in computing; connect with others with common backgrounds, ethnicities, disabilities, and genders to create communities that extend beyond the conference; obtain advice from and connect with computing leaders in academia and industry; and be inspired by the presentations by and the conversations with leaders with backgrounds shared by the audience.

Keynote speakers at the Tapia conference are a highly diverse group and will provide both learning and inspirational opportunities to the attendees. The 2017 Tapia conference features five different keynote speakers:

E. Castillo• Edward Castillo, research scientist, Radiation Oncology Department, Beaumont Health Research Institute, will present Making a Mathematical Diagnosis: How Combining Medical Imaging with Computational Science can Improve Patient Outcomes;



Adrienne_Porter• Adrienne P. Felt, Google, Chrome Metrics and Usable Security Team, will present Building a Browser for Everyone;




James_Mickens• James Mickens, associate professor of computer science, Harvard University, will present Leveraging Fine-grained Data Flows in Web Applications;



Kunle• Oyekunle Olukotun, professor, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Stanford University, will present Making Parallelism Easy: A 25 Year Odyssey;



A_Wildani• Avani Wildani, assistant professor, MathCS and Neuroscience, Emory University, will present New Interfaces in Neural Computing.



The Tapia conference will open on Wednesday, September 20. The first session is the CMD-IT Student Professional Development Workshop, which will provide undergraduate and master’s level computer science students with the unique opportunity to receive coaching and development from industry professionals. Students will learn about best practices for resume writing and preparing for the rigors of the technical and behavioral sides of the interview process. Students can signup for this session when they register for the conference.

The conference will continue with a Fireside Chat on Future Visions of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. The Fireside Chat will be followed by the Tapia conference’s career fair. The career fair will feature more than 80 sponsoring organizations including leading technology companies, universities, national laboratories, and government agencies. Attendees interested in interviewing with these organizations may submit their resumes to the resume database. The Tapia conference provides the resume database for individuals who are looking for internships, industry and government jobs, graduate programs, faculty positions, or post doc positions. (Sponsors will begin accessing the database in June.)

Thursday and Friday of the conference will feature more than 50 breakout sessions with workshops and panels. The breakout sessions encompass a wide range of topics. The various types of technology highlighted will include cybersecurity, data science, virtual and augmented reality, Internet of Things, and artificial intelligence. Other sessions cover issues and best practices around broadening participation in computing such as “Addressing Diversity & Inclusion Issues in Computer Science Through Contributions to Free and Open Source Software.” Birds of a feather sessions include “Disability: Celebrating a Face of Diversity,” “Women of Color in Computing,” “Hispanics in Computing Community,” “Keras,” “Deep Learning Made Easy,” andThings I Wish I Knew About High Performance Computing when I Started.”

The Tapia technical student poster session, which takes place on Thursday evening, provides an opportunity for undergraduate and graduate students to present their latest research and methodologies to the conference audience. Winners of the top posters (1st, 2nd, and 3rd place) will be recognized at the conference banquet. The Tapia industry poster session provides an opportunity for conference participants to learn about career paths and/or diversity initiatives at the organizations of conference sponsors.


Randal Pinkett

The Tapia conference banquet features the presentation of the Richard A. Tapia Achievement Award for Scientific Scholarship, Civic Science and Diversifying Computing. The award is given yearly to an individual who demonstrates significant leadership, commitment, and contributions to diversifying computing. The banquet will also feature guest speaker Randal Pinkett, founder, chairman and CEO, BCT Partners. Pinkett has received numerous awards for business and technology excellence including the Information Technology Senior Management Forum’s Beacon Award, the National Society of Black Engineers’ Entrepreneur of the Year Award, and the National Urban League’s Business Excellence Award. Pinkett was the first, and only, African-American to receive the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship at Rutgers University. He was also the winner of NBC’s hit reality television show, “The Apprentice,” having been selected as one of 18 candidates chosen from among 1 million applicants to compete for this opportunity.

Pinkett is the author of Campus CEO: The Student Entrepreneur’s Guide to Launching a Multimillion-Dollar Business and No-Money Down CEO: How to Start Your Dream Business with Little or No Cash. His latest book, Black Faces in White Places: 10 Game-Changing Strategies to Achieve Success and Find Greatness, presents the strategies African-Americans and other emerging majorities use to successfully navigate today’s rapidly changing professional landscape. Black Faces in White Places was named one of the “10 Best Books of 2010.” Based on the book’s “10 Game-Changing Strategies,” Pinkett has launched the “Campaign to Redefine the Game,” which represents a call to action for Americans to level the playing field in the 21st century workplace.

Activities available on Saturday will include CodeCon, a programming contest developed in-house at Bloomberg. Participants will be encouraged to push their programming and problem-solving skills to the limit in a race against the clock. Also on Saturday is the Doctoral Consortium, a one-day workshop that provides an opportunity for doctoral students to discuss and explore their research interests with a panel of experienced computing researchers.

The Tapia conference is sponsored by the Association for Computing Machinery and presented by the Center for Minorities and People with Disabilities in Information Technology (CMD-IT). Learn more about the ACM Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing at

About the Author

Jerri Barrett is the director of social media for the Center for Minorities and People with Disabilities in IT (