Women@INI Begins Semester With a Bang

September 27, 2010

Several women in engineering and computer science programs across Carnegie Mellon University will take time from their studies this week to attend the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing September 28 to October 2 in Atlanta, Ga. The annual conference invites leaders from industry, academia and government to present their current work, while other talks at the conference focus on the role of women in technology. It has been dubbed the world's largest gathering of women in computing.

The Information Networking Institute (INI) is a sponsor of the conference. Each year, the INI offers an essay contest through which a handful of INI students are awarded a scholarship that covers registration and travel to attend the conference. The INI awarded six scholarship winners this year to students who submitted winning essays on the topic "collaborating across boundaries," the theme of the 2010 conference. The winning students are listed below:

  • Luz Jaramillo
  • Ashley Keith
  • Lirida Kercelli
  • Kanupriya Tavri
  • Divya Vavili
  • Prachi Wadekar

INI student Hong Guo is an esteemed recipient of a scholarship from the conference organizers. She entered the Grace Hopper Celebration contest over the summer and was among the winners selected from 900 entries, evaluated on academic achievement, potential in the field, need and a well-written essay.

"I can't wait to meet with other women who share the same passion for information technology, especially those who've already made great contributions in industrial, academic and government communities," said Guo, who will graduate in December and would like to pursue a career in software engineering

INI student Ramya Mudduluri and others are choosing to attend the conference as volunteers, called Hoppers. Volunteers can assist in numerous ways to promote and document the event. If selected as a Hopper the registration fee is waived for volunteers.

The Grace Hopper Celebration rounds out a busy month for the Women@INI (WINI) student organization. In September, WINI brought students together for a number of successful events. An ice cream social kicked off the semester for the women, resulting in a room packed with first-year and second-year students, as well as video-conferencing with INI women at Carnegie Mellon Silicon Valley.  WINI hosted Professor Lorrie Cranor on September 17 for a round table discussion with pizza that allowed INI women to talk about getting involved in CMU research and balancing priorities between work and family.   

Engaging the broad campus community of women in engineering and computer science, WINI hosted visiting CIT alumna, Dr. Erin Fitzgerald September 24 for an event to kickoff the new 'computer engineer' Barbie that will be new to store shelves this holiday season. Dr. Fitzgerald, who had input into the new doll's design, led an insightful discussion with a room of fifty students, faculty and staff on the topic of women in technology careers.

Since WINI was founded in 2005, the student-run organization has grown and become more active with each year. With the busy month in September, WINI promises to have a spectacular year!