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Nov. 9, 2017
Northwest Missouri State University students, faculty and staff were among the more than 200 students and educators who shared their passion for computer science and technology while gathering Nov. 3-4 for the fourth Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas Women in Computing (MINK WIC) conference at the Hyatt Hotel and Conference Center in Lexana, Kansas.
The 2017 MINK WIC conference featured 22 industry speakers while drawing undergraduate and graduate students and faculty and staff from 31 colleges and universities representing the four MINK states. Thirty-three Northwest faculty, staff and undergraduate and graduate students attended the conference.
Dr. Carol Spradling, the director of Northwest’s School of Computer Science and Information Systems, co-founded the biennial conference in 2011, as an effort to combat the declining numbers of female students in computer science and technology related fields.
The conference enables women to discuss their roles in computing and technology fields and share experiences and strategies for success. Industry donors provided about $22,000 in donations to support this year’s conference.
“Providing opportunities for young women to learn from industry mentors, collaborate with other young women, develop new skills and build their confidence are several reasons that our MINK WIC conference is so inspiring,” Spradling said. “Having organized four MINK WIC conferences, I am fortunate to watch these young technical women mature into exceptional leaders in the computing community. “
In addition to workshops, tech talks and panel discussions led by Industry professionals and faculty, the conference provides opportunities for Northwest students to share their technical experiences through lightening talks, graduate research presentations, and a graduate and undergraduate poster contest.
Sumnima Rana, a junior computer science major from Kathmandu, Nepal, won the Undergraduate Technical Poster Contest with her poster, “Internet of Things (IOT) and its Application.”
“Success is where preparation and opportunity meet, and MINKWIC is where that happens,” Rana said. “It is a platform for women to participate, network, learn and grow their skills in computing.”
Pavithra Devdas, a graduate student studying applied computer science, also presented a poster, titled “JIRA.” Lightening talk participants from Northwest were Renu Kappara, a graduate student studying applied computer science, presenting “Amazing Women,” and Julieann Freeman, a sophomore computer science major from Liberty, Missouri, presenting “Forming Your Own Special Interest Group.”
With “Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity” as the theme, this year’s conference featured two keynote addresses. Dr. Jakita Thomas, an associate professor of computer science and software engineering at Auburn University, delivered the Friday night keynote, titled “Supporting Computational Algorithmic Thinking: Exploring Social Change and Complex Cognitive Capability Development in the Double Bind.” Jeanne Johnson, director of business development in the worldwide strategy and planning team of One Commercial Partner at Microsoft, gave the Saturday keynote, titled “‘Always On: Stories and Advice From a Lifetime as a Minority in Technology.”
Northwest Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Dr. Juanita Simmons presented, “Beyond Diversity: The Keys to Successful Recruitment, Retention and Ascension of Quality Women and Minorities in Computer Science,” and moderated a diversity panel.
Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Information Systems Dr. Denise Case led a workshop, “Coding Collaboration with Git” and moderated a panel, “Is Graduate School Right For Me?” Associate Professor of Computer Science and Information Systems Dr. Michael Rogers discussed “Swift: From Algorithm to App in Record Time.”
A career fair featured nationally and regionally known companies such as American Century, Cerner Corporation, Commerce Bank, DST, Firemon, Hallmark, Microsoft, NetApp, Target, Technology Services Group and Veracity Consulting.
Other Northwest faculty, staff and students who helped organize the conference included Crystal Ward, manager of web services, and Diana Linville, senior instructor of computer science and information systems. Freeman served as a student networking coordinator, and Elicia Reuscher, a junior interactive digital media major from Kansas City, Missouri, was responsible for the conference T-shirt design.
For more information on the MINK WIC conference, visit www.minkwic.org.
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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Northwest Missouri State University
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