A group of Seawolves, all members of the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences (CEAS), traveled to Harvard University this semester to attend the annual WeCode Conference, the largest student-run conference dedicated to supporting women in computer science.
Representing CEAS, undergrads Ashi Mohindru (AMS/CS), Lauren Sprung (MEC), Alexa Rockwell (CS), and Robin Shum (CS) made valuable connections, listened to exciting keynote speakers, and explored the vibrant town of Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Upon hearing of the Women Engineers Code (WeCode) event, Mohindru took the initiative to reach out to the Department of Computer Science with a request of support to help students to attend. According to Dr. Ari Kaufman, chair of the department, “Ashi explained the many benefits and opportunities available at the rapidly-growing weekend conference and the department was happy to support the trip. We knew that she and her classmates would put the funds to good use.”
“WeCode is a phenomenal weekend of inspiration and professional development and I am so grateful for having gotten the opportunity to represent Stony Brook along with three other female students,” Ashi said. “It was certainly a fun weekend, all of us made friends with students from other schools, became closer friends with one another, met a lot of interesting people and explored Cambridge. And we got swag. Lots and lots of swag.”
Keynote speakers at the event included major female stars in the tech field, including Julie Elberfield, Senior Vice President in Shared Technology at Capital One Bank, and Natalie Glance, Director of Engineering at Duolingo.
The talk that was most memorable for the Stony Brook attendees was that of Latanya Sweeney, Harvard Professor of Government and Technology, who, according to Mohindru, spoke about how her passion for her work often overshadowed prejudices about her being a woman of color in science and mathematics.
The WeCode Conference was started in 2015 by the Women in Computer Science (WiCS) club at Harvard. It has grown in size each year, and its sponsors now include Facebook, Google, and Microsoft. According to the conference website, http://www.wecodeharvard.com/ , its mission is “to expand the skills, network, and community of technical women worldwide.”
Stony Brook’s attendees met with technical recruiters from Bloomberg, Capital One, and some of the nation’s fast-growing startups who all raised the idea of expanding their relationship with Stony Brook and emphasized diversity in workplace.
Based on the fantastic feedback from the four women who went, who even returned with job interviews scheduled at prestigious companies, the department may look to send new groups to WeCode in the future.
By Michael Curatola