The Kentucky Celebration of Women in Computing 2010

IMG_2352_small On February 26-27, I was honored to participate in the Kentucky Celebration of  Women in Computing (KYWIC).  It was held at the beautiful Kentucky Dam Village State Park in Gilbertsville, KY. 

Some background on the conference: Every year, there is a big “Women in Technology” conference for female university students called the Grace Hopper Conference.  It is an amazing experience – rockstar technical women from both academia and industry IMG_2367_small(including Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Intel, etc.) participate, to inspire and support the female students and each other.  It is held in a different US city each year (the 2010 conference is scheduled for Atlanta, GA).  However, not everyone can afford to travel to it, so a number of smaller, regional “Celebration of Women in Computing” conferences have been organized by some fabulous women to bring the Grace Hopper experience closer to home. 

The conference began with a poster session, showcasing some of the impressive research done by the university students.  The top graduate and the top undergraduate poster won a scholarship to the Grace Hopper Conference in fall 2010. 

Poster Topic Presenter
POV-Ray – Persistence of Vision Ray-tracer Traci Glass
What is RAPE? Mendy Storie
Environmental & Social Factors Hindering Rural Females from Pursuing a CS Degree Mary Robbins
Digital Wall vs. Great Wall (The Internet in China) Yang Zhang
Security Basics for the Smart Grid Summer Olmstead
Knowledge-Poor Pronominal Resolution System Lauren Schmidt
High School STEM Day for Girls Christina Peach
Artificial Intelligence in Music Theory Kelsie Covington
Cryptology – Historical and Current Perspectives Sarah Howell, Andrea Kaddour, Sarah Wells
Flock-based Clustering and Data Visualization of Web Clickstreams Esin Saka
Human Performance Moderator Functions and Peer-based Human-Robot Interaction Caroline Harriott

IMG_2377_smallThen, Dr. Julie Adams from Vanderbilt University delivered the keynote, an inspiring speech about her personal journey entitled “The Country Mouse & the Computer Mouse”.  Dr. Adams was originally poised to take over her family’s maple syrup business, but found a path into computing.  She is currently the most senior woman on the tenure track at Vanderbilt, and her research is on human-robot interaction, developing capabilities for humans to supervise and task large, distributed robot teams in real-time, mission deployments. 

Deanna Kosaraju followed with an excellent talk on networking.  Deanna is seriously one of the most impressive networkers that I know.  My favorite tip of hers: she keeps a list of the contacts that she makes, and every week, she picks one at random and sends them an email to catch up.  Making a concerted effort to keep in touch like that can bring lots of opportunities your way! 

Then we split into groups for “Birds of a Feather” talks.  I was speaking during this time slot, so I missed hearing some of these other interesting topics.

“Birds of a Feather” talks Presenter
Support of CS Undergraduate - “Average Joey: Use of problem repertoire and active learning” Ziping Liu
Helpful Hints for being a Female in Male-Dominated Major Joyce Crowell
Cool Research from Microsoft Jennifer Marsman
To Reinforce or Reprimand: What Works or Does Not Ambareen Siraj
Dating at Work Maureen Doyle

For those who attended, here are some resources from the “Cool Research from Microsoft” talk that I gave:



DeepZoom: – Do you remember where the Beatle figurines are hidden?  🙂

Windows 7: – I talked about multitouch and sensor support.

Project Natal: – This post contains links to the videos that I showed. 

Finally, we ended Friday evening with a fun activity – making geek jewelry!  We could make earrings and pins, from an assortment of beads and old keyboard keys.  There were some very creative ideas: I saw earrings with the keyboard keys 0 and 1, two Windows keys, and the left and right arrow keys (pointing towards her face).  I made earrings with a “Ctrl” key and a “B” key…a very bold fashion statement!  Hee hee. 


On Saturday, we began the day with special interest talks.  Dr. Anne Bracy from Intel gave a talk on careers in research, I gave a talk on careers in industry, and Dr. Lecia Barker gave a talk on retaining women in CS (for faculty). 

These were followed by two parallel tracks of lightning talks.  There were so many interesting topics. 

Lightning Talk Presenter
Diversity in IT – What Females Bring to the Table Kathy Saleeba
The WIT Kit – Resources for Women in Technology* Jennifer Marsman
Career Evolution: Never Settle Maureen Doyle
Confidence Crisis: Issues and Rewards of Persisting Esin Saka & Ernur Saka
9 Reasons for Going Through the Whole 9 Yards Ambereen Siraj
Balancing Being a Wife/Mother and a Computer Scientist Suhair Amer
Resume Writing: What have you accomplished? Mary K. Wallace
Hackerspaces – A Useful Tool for Collaboration Kristen Herd
Modeling and Simulation Applications Karen Mimms
A P2P Way to Expand Your Professional Social Network Ziping Liu
Danger Theory: Biologically Inspired Computer Protection Suhair Amer
Interdisciplinary Computer Science: A Non-Traditional Perspective Betsy Williams Sanders
Online Study – Tips & Strategies Huanjing Wang

* If you are interested in downloading the WIT Kit, you can access it from  Request access to join the group, and I’ll approve you.  You will need a Windows Live ID, which is free. 

IMG_2371_small We next held a panel discussion with Q&A.  There were some great questions asked and some inspiring stories shared.  I am still impressed every time I hear a story of a woman who worked all through college in addition to taking classes (and sometimes was pregnant on top of that!), or a woman who was strongly discouraged from pursuing a math/science/computing-related field and, despite that lack of support, emerged triumphant. 

Finally, we ended with a career fair.  If you are interested in a job with Microsoft, you can always submit your resume to

Huge thanks to Dr. Brenda Wilson and her amazing team that organized this conference!  I came home feeling invigorated by all of the excitement around me. 

If you ever have a “Celebration of Women in Computing” conference in your area, I strongly recommend that you attend.  I’ve now participated in events in Ohio, Michigan, and Kentucky, and they have all been absolutely inspiring.  You go, girls!  🙂


Comments (6)
  1. Maureen Doyle says:

    Thank you!!! It was wonderful meeting you and I really enjoyed your talks.

  2. Christina Peach says:

    It was great meeting you and listening to your presentations.  The excitement you have for your career is so awesome and has inspired me so much.

  3. Silona says:

    Wow sounds completely awesome.

    And I am completely envious of those keyboard earrings!

    Can I have ctrl U?

  4. Kathy Saleeba says:

    Jennifer – thanks for your Microsoft related talks and your enthusiasm!  It proves enthusiasm and computing are compatible!

    During the panel discussion you made a comment about making a "to do" list of the things you need to accomplish the next day at work…remember W7 has sticky notes!  Love them and Windows 7.  I’m trying to convince my boss I NEED a touch screen…he hasn’t budged yet, but I keep pushing!  Thank you again for being a great addition to the conference.

  5. Amazing! Inspiring! From this conference, I’m now considering a PhD. Now I realize how important it truly is to get those ‘at-a-girl’s’ from women who are braving the IT journey as well!


  6. Karen Mimms says:


    Thank you so much for being a part of the conference.  Your enthusiasm for your job and for life in general was refreshing and inspiring.  You are beautiful!


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