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Oct. 29, 2013
By Kari Sierks, media relations assistant
Northwest Missouri State University employees and students organized and participated in the second Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas Women in Computing (MINK WIC) conference Oct. 18-19 in Kansas City, Mo. Additionally, two Northwest students earned monetary awards for their poster presentations.
Northwest faculty and staff members involved in the planning of the conference included Dr. Carol Spradling, associate professor of computer science and information systems, who co-chaired the event. Crystal Ward, manager of web services, coordinated the MINK WIC website, and Melinda Kelsey, graphic designer, collaborated on the graphic designs and posters for the conference. In all, 36 Northwest employees and students attended the event.
“At most colleges and universities, few women major in computing and many students and women have an inaccurate view of the computing profession,” Spradling said. “We want to show female students that computing is an exciting profession that allows them to solve interesting problems, be creative in their solutions and work collaboratively to make a difference in the world. The MINK WIC conference is designed to open the eyes of young women by exposing them to female computing role models and new possibilities in computing.”
About 220 students and faculty from colleges and universities throughout the region, as well as five local high school students and 29 industry professionals, attended MINK WIC. Highlights included a poster session, lightning talks, graduate research papers and panel discussions. The conference featured keynote speakers, industry panels, a Microsoft resume workshop and a career fair featuring computing companies.
Northwest students Grace Horvath (above) and Poornima
Bandari (below) were recognized for posters they presented
at the Women in Computing conference, and each received
Northwest students Grace Horvath and Poornima Bandari were named MINK WIC student poster winners and received monetary awards.
Horvath, a junior computer science major from O’Fallon, presented a poster, titled “Starting From Scratch,” about a beginner’s programming language. Horvath sought to convince others that Scratch is an excellent language choice for students who have no prior programming experience.
Horvath also had the opportunity to speak to the manager of a non-profit organization who was interested in the program and believed it was the best choice for the organization’s future project, which focused on getting 9 to 12-year-old girls interested in computer science.
“Winning this award was an honor,” Horvath said. “But even more humbling was the woman I spoke to during my presentation. Knowing I was able to leave a lasting impression that could positively affect several young girls was enough of a reward for me. I would not have been able to win this award, though, without the advice and support from (Northwest faculty members) Dr. Carol Spradling and Dr. Michael Rogers.”
Bandari is a graduate student from Hyderabad, India, pursuing her master’s degree in applied computer science. Bandari’s topic, “Women in Project Management,” highlighted women’s abilities in project management and the lack of women in project management compared to men. She participated in the poster competition to enhance her professional skills.
“I did not enter the competition to win, but winning makes me overjoyed and improved my confidence,” Bandari said. “Winning an award outside my home country is a great accomplishment, and I would like to thank Dr. Spradling for giving me the opportunity to participate in the competition and for her encouragement.”
This regional meeting, modeled after the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, brought together students, faculty and technology leaders from across the four states to discuss the role of women in today's computing and technology fields, share experiences and strategies for success and explore issues common to women working in these fields. Specifically, the goal was to provide an opportunity for young women to explore opportunities in computing, network with other women from academia, industry and government and create friendships among women in the region who share the same interest and passion for computing.
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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