The BCSWomen Lovelace Colloquium 2015

This year the BCSWomen Lovelace Colloquium was in Edinburgh, on April 9th. This little conference, which I started in Leeds in 2008, has grown quite big now; we had about 150 attendees, and about 75 poster contest entrants. This year the local organiser was the amazing Amy Guy, who came to the conference as an undergraduate back in 2009, and has come back every year to help out. Which is nice:)

Edinburgh is a handsome city and it certainly put on a good show for us; the sky was blue, the University was a superb venue, and all the people we met were friendly. I put up about 55 people in the Edinburgh Central Travelodge, which was perfect for the job: clean, friendly, comfortable, and brilliantly located, about 15 minutes walk from Edinburgh Informatics, our host venue. Also, just around the corner from the castle…

As usual the day had a mixture of talks, student posters, and panel sessions. Our keynote, Kate Ho, kicked us off with an inspirational talk on working on things you love. Here she is with one of the big questions.

Other speakers talked about sentiment analysis, insect robots, and how to stick around for 30 years. The panel session involves people answering any question that the audience wants to ask; for me the highlight was Karen Petrie from Dundee uni who described her confidence boosting playlist. It might be the first time that Meghan Trainor and Lady Gaga have featured in careers advice ever.

The colloquium is an expensive thing to put on because we pay for all student travel: if students get in, we’ll get them to the event. We also pay for some of the speakers and organisers – so travel is by far our largest cost. We wouldn’t be able to do it at all without the support of our sponsors. Our headline sponsor was Google, for the 8th year running. They also sent a speaker, which is great – Google have some awesome women engineers and they send us a different one every year. Marvellous.

Our lunch sponsor was Twitter, Bloomberg sponsored Coffee & Cake, and the Social at the end of the day was covered by Scott Logic. We had additional travel support came from the BCS, Edinburgh University, and SICSA (speaker travel).

The winners

In the best first year contest (sponsored by Google) we had:

  • 1st place: Summer Jones of Imperial College with “Computational neuroscience – could it eradicate memory loss?”
  • 2nd place: Yiota Laperta of Aberystwyth University with “Programming with an Arduino”

In the best second year contest (sponsored by Slack https://slack.com/) we had:

  • 1st place: Emily Fay Horner, of Sheffield Hallam University, with “Nanobots: from fiction to reality”
  • 2nd place: Lucy Parker of Edinburgh University with “Assistive technology for children with autism spectrum disorders in the classroom”
  • An honorable mention also went to Natasha Lee of Bedfordshire University, with a poster on Mainframes and enterprise computing

In the final year student contest (sponsored by EMC http://www.emc.com/careers/index.htm) we had:

  • 1st place: Amanda Curry of Heriot-Watt University with “Generating natural route instructions for virtual personal assistants”
  • 2nd place was a 3-way tie:
    Jade Evans of Aberystwyth University with “Teaching and evaluation of breast radiologists, using computer games theory”
    Yazhou Liu of the University of Bath with “Neologisms and idioms: Translators ‘nightmare'”
    Jade Woodward of Dundee University with “Let’s help around the kitchen – iPad game for children with autism”

In the MSc student contest (sponsored by JP Morgan http://techcareers.jpmorgan.com/techcareers/emea/home)

  • Dhiya Al Saqri of Buckingham University, with a poster entitled “Digitalised Human Body”

The people’s choice prize (sponsored by Interface3 http://www.interface3.com/ ) is voted for by the attendees, and this was won by Emily Wang of Edinburgh for “Koi Pond”, and Milka Horozova of Queen Mary University of London with “Can a robot make this poster”.

We also had some employer stalls – this year they were FDM, Kotikan, UTC Aerospace, VMWare and GCHQ.

Next year: Sheffield. Hosted by Sheffield Hallam uni, with some input from the University of Sheffield. Bring it on!

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