MSU Women Recognized at 2012 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing

October 18, 2012

MSU group at Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in ComputingThe largest and most diverse convening of technical women in the world—the 2012 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing (GHC 2012)—took place October 3-6 at the Baltimore Convention Center. The more than 3,600 attendees at this year's conference hailed from 42 countries and included students, faculty, researchers, and industry professionals from early career through senior leaders.

Laura Dillon, MSU professor of computer science and engineering, was recognized at the welcome ceremony for her roles as a conference co-chair and a member of the conference's academic advisory board.

MSU junior and current president of MSU Women in Computing (WIC), Mairin Chesney, took first place in the GHC 2012 Undergraduate Student Research Competition (SRC) for her poster and presentation, "Does Coevolution between Digital Parasites and Hosts Promote Sexual Recombination in Evolutionary Computation?" Chesney now advances to the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Undergraduate SRC Grand Finals competition. Three winners of the Grand Finals will be recognized at the annual ACM Awards Banquet in June.

Past MSU WIC president and recent alumnus, Devan Sayles, participated on the GHC 2012 panel on Student WIC Organizations, which was proposed and moderated by Dillon. Sayles highlighted successful strategies MSU WIC pursued to build an active student organization that benefits not just its members, but all students in computing at MSU. Sayles is currently a programmer/analyst at General Mills.

MSU WIC executive board members Taylor Jones, Chelsea Carr, and Chesney received scholarships to attend GHC 2012, sponsored by the National Science Foundation, Xerox, and Google, respectively. In addition, MSU graduate student Kayra Hopkins received a scholarship sponsored by ThoughtWorks.

In addition to the above-named individuals, other representatives of MSU attending the conference included undergraduate students Sana Siddique, Danielle Guir, Caitlin McDonald, Madalyn Parker, and Erin Hoffman; graduate students Michelle Vogel, Anya Johnson, Rosemary Dutka, Neem Serra, and Caitlyn Pickens; recent alumnus Marie Buckner; and academic specialist Teresa VanderSloot.

"According to predictions by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, by 2020 the United States will be able to fill only 30 percent of its nearly 1.4 million job openings for computer specialists with computing graduates. Yet these jobs will be crucial to the country's long-term economic competitiveness and national security," says Dillon. "What do such predictions have to do with women in computing? In the United States in 2011, women made up 57 percent of employees working in professional occupations, but only 25 percent of those working in computing professions.

"GHC provides a welcoming environment for diverse technical women and men in which to learn, network, and socialize."

"Grace Hopper is absolutely amazing!" said one undergraduate attendee. "Even beyond the sessions and career fair, the networking opportunities are enormous. Big, important people go and care about women in computer science."

Having some fun, the attendees also got to share the dance floor with the senior vice president of knowledge at Google (Alan Eustace) and the president and CEO of the Anita Borg Institute (Telle Whitney).

The MSU College of Engineering was a Bronze Sponsor of GHC 2012. Additional funding for MSU students attending GHC 2012 came from a multitude of sources, including: Atomic Object, Crowe Horwath, IBM, TechSmith, USAA, Union Pacific, and Vertafore. The MSU Women in Engineering program and the Julie Benaglio Fund also provided funding.