Students hop down to Texas for Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing

img_20161020_134643October was a busy month at the Seidenberg School. Not only was it Cybersecurity Month, meaning we had plenty of events relating to all things privacy and security, but we were still recovering from the launch of the fantastic NYC Design Factory.

What better time to get away from it all by attending the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing conference in Houston, Texas?

The conference is a massive, annual event that usually takes place in a different location each year. Since its inception in 1994, the conference has grown from just a few hundred delegates to this year’s incredible collection of attendees – around 16,000! And some of those awesome women in attendance were Seidenberg students and staff.

d688e116-b58d-4dad-bcaf-89b51a87be8cAmongst the students were undergraduates Karishma Saini (BS Computer Science), Melanie Green (BS Information Technology), Gauri Kirve (BS Information Systems), and Ketaki Mulajkar (BS Computer Science), as well as graduate students Raisa Mukadam (MS Information Systems), Alexa Piccoli (MS Computer Science) and Beverly Gladden (MS Information Systems). They were joined by Seidenberg staffers Kim Brazaitis, Svetlana Kotlyarenko, and me!

Trying out Microsoft Hololens
Trying out Microsoft Hololens

To say the conference was absolutely massive is an understatement. The opening keynote took place in the enormous Toyota Center stadium where amazing speakers got the crowd hyped up for the next few days of networking, professional development workshops and sessions, and a serious amount of partying. Keynote topics included privacy and cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and cognitive computing, and were discussed by Latanya Sweeney, Ginni Rometty, Alyssia Jovellanos, and Anna Patterson.

Seidenberg School booth
Seidenberg School booth

After the keynote, the conference was in full swing. Day one consisted largely of everybody checking out the expo, where hundreds of organizations (including the Seidenberg School!) had set up booths to share information, network with others, and give out free swag.

Melanie Greene with one of the awesome Google displays

Computer Science student Melanie Greene said: “It was uplifting to see the number of prestigious companies at the career expo – I really saw their commitment to embracing diversity in the industry, and it was touching. I got the chance to meet many enthusiastic employees from so many companies such as Google, Microsoft, Walt Disney, Facebook and to attend Google’s party that was out of this world. Have you ever created your own emoji and then seen it in the foam of your coffee? I have now. I am blown away by the advancements made in technology and I hope to be a part of them in the future.”

In the evenings, a wealth of social events took place with free food, fantastic networking opportunities, and inspirational speakers – including the aforementioned Google party that was, indeed, out of this world.

Google selfidriving car
Google had a self-driving car on display

Days two and three were packed with professional development and educational workshops and panels that our students were sure to make the most of during networking breaks. Some of our students were so impressive that they were offered interviews for jobs on the spot! We are extremely proud of our students’ talents and their abilities to share their expertise with people they have just met.

resized_20161019_181829The conference came to a close too soon and we were sad to leave the warm, humid temperatures of Houston to return to the tepid airs of New York… but it was an incredible experience.

Graduate student Alexa Piccoli said: “Attending Grace Hopper this year well exceeded my expectations . . . There are so many awesome things happening in the world of technology and it reassured me that being a women in the field is something I should be proud of and thankful for.

Alexa Piccoli designs her personal emoji to be replicated in a latte

“From the keynote speakers to the breakout sessions, to the awesome Google party, I truly learned a lot and had fun. I learned how women have deeply influenced and paved the path in technology, how to get involved in capture the flag competitions, the advancements of blockchain, and how  you can do anything you set your mind to in this field. I would encourage students to go to this event next year and get involved in all that being a women in technology has to offer!”

Interested in attending the conference next year? Let us know!