This year's theme for the 2012 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing (GHC) was "Are We There Yet?" CSE's Aggie Women in Computer Science (AWICS) answered with a resounding, "Yes!" This was the first year that the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Texas A&M University was a Gold Academic Sponsor of the GHC, and AWICS members, 28 students plus three faculty and two staff, hosted a gold sponsor booth resulting in an overwhelming interest in AWICS and CSE. Many of the more than 3,000 GHC attendees swarmed the AWICS booth during the 20 hours it was open to visitors.
Prior to traveling to the GHC, AWICS held a training session for its members, which concentrated on how to interact with booth visitors. PhD students and AWICS members Mukulika Ghosh and Cindy (Hsin-Yi) Yeh planned the to and from travel and the booth coverage schedule. The CSE staff put together the promotional materials and off they went. CSE Senior Administrator Coordinator Kathy Waskom, who accompanied the group, said, "When we walked in wearing our CSE/AWICS maroon T-shirts and carrying our CSE banner, monitor, and twenty some boxes of handouts, sling bags, prizes, and candy, eyes popped and jaws dropped. Other colleges came to see what was going on."
Tons of booth visitors were excited and surprised by the Texas A&M presence and AWICS itself. Attendees were greatly impressed by the raffle prizes: T-shirts, polos, and Apple TVs; but most popular were the autographed "Programming: Principles and Practice Using C++" books and Computer Engineer Barbie dolls. After introducing the visitors to AWICS and asking about their interests, AWICS members gave each a color-coded sling bag. There was a bag for each of four categories: undergraduate students and educators, post docs and faculty, graduate students, and industry representatives. In each bag there was group specific information such as a CSE Industrial Affiliate Program member list for industry reps, the CSE "Like Me" undergraduate brochure for the ugrads and teachers, Bryan/College Station community info for post docs and faculty, and a CSE faculty list with research and labs for grads. The AWICS brochure, CSE curricula, and CSE and Texas A&M general information material were included in all bags.
The goal of the CSE students, faculty and staff attending GHC was to inspire interest in AWICS, the CSE department, and Texas A&M. They received an immense amount of feedback and the follow-up is ongoing with "thank you for attending" notes going out to raffle winners and attendees with questions.
Texas A&M was recognized as one of the top 10 schools with the most students attending.
The 12th annual Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing was held on October 3-6 in Baltimore, Maryland. The GHC is named for Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, a mathematician who played an important role in the early development of computer science. The GHC is a program of the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology and is co-presented with the Association for Computing Machinery. The GHC is the largest technical conference that showcases the work of technical women around the world.
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