CISE & SE Support Students Attending Grace Hopper Celebration

in NEWS, SE Spotlight Alumni, SE Spotlight Faculty, SE Spotlight-Research

by Christina Polyzos

left to right: Sepideh Pourazarm, Xinmiao Sun, Tingting Xu, and Yue Joyce Zhang
left to right: Sepideh Pourazarm, Xinmiao Sun, Tingting Xu, and Yue Joyce Zhang

For the 3rd year, CISE and the Division of Systems Engineering (SE), supported four systems engineering female students, Yue Joyce Zhang, Xinmiao Sun, Tingting Xu, and Sepideh Pourazarm who attended the Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC) of Women in Computing conference held on October 19-21, in Houston Texas.

Pourazarm (advisor: Christos Cassandras), has attended the conference two years in a row. She claims that she is inspired by the prominent women in technology who share their experiences, with stories about how they reached their high-powered position, and achieved their goals. Pourazarm stated, “For me, the most endearing moment was during the keynote speech when, Anna Patterson, Vice President of Engineering, Artificial Intelligence for Google, spoke of her great-grandmother who was among the first women to vote in the United States. It has been a long journey women had to follow to reach the point we are at now; although effort is still needed to fill the gap between men and women in technology.”

There were 4,500 attendees in 2013 and approximately 16,000 in 2016, with a 25% growth from the previous year, 2015. One thousand participants were men. Sun (advisor: Christos Cassandras) said she “was astonished when I first entered the Toyota Center and saw nearly 15,000 women. I was thoroughly inspired by the achievements of keynote speakers and eagerly absorbed all advice from these professional women through networking. As a result, I feel more confident.”

Zhang (advisor: Christos Cassandras) said, “It was definitely a magnificent adventure. There was a plethora of information from all types of women who were extremely intelligent resources.”

This conference brings together women from various technological fields to share ideas, network, and partake in professional development activities. GHC is notably the world’s largest conference for women in technology. Because diversity has been an issue, this year GHC focused on having at least 30% of speakers be females of color who hold prominent positions in technology.

Xu (advisor: Ioannis Paschalidis), whose focus is on Machine Learning, became acquainted with women in her field of study and learned about others in related fields. “From my discussion with various company representatives, I was enthusiastic to find out about how many companies are interconnected with big data analysis, which is exactly my research area. I am now more energetic and focused to continue in this challenging research.”

The Grace Hopper Celebration incorporates career sessions with technical sessions, including proposal presentations, mentoring workshops, papers, a PhD forum, panel discussions, and a Poster Session. Conference keynote speakers and presenters are leaders in their respective discipline from academia, government and industry such as Ginni Rometty, President and CEO of IBM, Latanya Sweeney, Harvard University Professor, Marc Benioff, Chairman and CEO of Salesforce, and Megan Smith, U.S. Chief Technology Officer.

“We connect, inspire, and guide women in computing and organizations that view technology innovation as a strategic imperative.”