Thursday 14 April saw the fourth BCSWomen Undergraduate Lovelace Colloquium at The University of Birmingham. As you might know, as regular readers of this blog, I started the BCSWomen Lovelace in 2008 and ran it for the first two years. Now it moves around the country and I act as a kind of “programme chair”, organising the event alongside local staff.
The speakers for the day were all, without exception, brilliant. I’m not just saying that – I have read the event feedback forms and it’s true:-)
We started with a keynote from Professor Angela Sasse of UCL, who talked about security and usability. Maggie Berry from womenintechnology.co.uk talked about the importance of networking in building your career. Jennifer Sheridan from BigDog interactive described some very cool work on installations in nightclubs and festivals and global drawing graffiti mashups (no, seriously). Tracy Gardner of IBM talked about consumability, and finally Bianca Milatinovici from Google Zurich spoke about youtube annotations and the Google 20% time, which she’s spent working on Google’s philanthropic projects.
The formal session finished with a careers Q&A panel session in which some of the speakers (Angela, Bianca, Jennifer) and some new faces (Madeleine Field from FDM Group, Chrystie Myketiak from cs4fn/QMUL and Karen Petrie from BCSWomen/Dundee University) took questions from the floor about computing careers. The aim of this session is for student attendees to get advice from a wide range of technical women – those working in industry, recruiters, entrepreneurs, and academics. We had quite a few questions but I think that people were generally a bit tired by this point so it wasn’t as energetic as the rest of the day!
The poster contest
The centrepiece of the day, as usual, was a poster contest for women students to discuss their own work and interests. This is split into two broad categories – project work, for students discussing projects that they’ve done themselves (usually for final year & masters students) and open choice where students create a poster on a computing topic of interest (usually for students in lower years). The quality of the posters this year was truly amazing – they ranged in topic from cloud computing to AI to GIS for archaology to social networks… And the enthusiasm of the poster presenters was also really impressive – it’s great to chat with so many clever and articulate women about technology. The poster prizes went to the following people:
Original Project Work
Main prizes sponsored by IBM, people’s choice sponsored by FDM Group
- First Place went to Charlotte Backus from Cardiff University
- Second Place was impossible to judge (I know, I was one of the judges!) so we split the prize between Amy Guy of Lincoln University and Shazia Akbar of Dundee University
- People’s Choice was won by Shanshan Wang of Swansea University
Main prizes sponsored by CapGemini, people’s choice sponsored by FDM Group
- First Place was won by Gabriella Asprella Libonati, of Kings College London
- Second Place went to Ramona Tapi, of Aberystwyth University
- People’s Choice was a joint poster presented by Amna Bukhari and Ramah Haddi of Swansea University.
This year, for the first time, we had a Google Excellence Award for the best first year poster. This went to Ellie Mitchell, of Bath University.
To the sponsors – Google for sponsoring the travel bursaries, and the Google Excellence Award for best first year poster; IBM for sponsoring the “Original Project Work” poster contest and sending Tracy along to talk; FDM group for sponsoring the People’s Choice prize and contributing to the panel session; Capgemini for sponsoring the “Open Choice” poster contest and bringing a stand; Credit Suisse for sponsoring refreshments; and the BCS for admin help and sponsoring some student travel (and my travel!).
And the really big thanks goes to Mark Lee, Caroline Wilson, Natasha Nelson and an army of students from the University of Birmingham for hosting the event so brilliantly. Sadaf Alvi, also of Birmingham uni, did a whole heap of work setting the event up too before she took on a new job and deserves big thanks.