The National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) 2016 Award for Aspirations in Computing (AiC) honored fourteen female high school technologists and one educator from the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex during a daylong celebration at the UT Dallas Campus. The NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing honors celebrates young high school women for their computing-related achievements and interests as part of an ongoing effort to encourage more young women to pursue careers in technology and computing. Since 2007, more than 4,600 young women have received public recognition for their interest in computing and technology through the NCWIT Aspirations in Computing program. This year, the NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing program honored 1,915 female high school technologists.
Award recipients are selected based on their aptitude and aspirations in technology and computing, leadership ability, academic history, and plans for post-secondary education. The award recipients are offered scholarships, internships, research experiences, and other educational and employment opportunities provided by NCWIT Alliance Members.
The NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Educator Award also publicly celebrates high school educators who encourage girls’ interest and participation in technology pursuits. This year, Ms. Theresa Horvath from McKinney High School was awarded the NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Educator Award. DFW Metroplex student winners came from North Texas high schools including Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science (TAMS), Plano West Senior High School, School of Science and Engineering Magnet, Ursuline Academy of Dallas, Irma Lerma Rangel Young Women’s Leadership School, and more.
Last February, fourteen young women and one educator from the Dallas-Fort Worth area attended a day-long celebration to honor their technical achievements. The award winners, as well as their parents, were entertained by myriad events throughout the day. Included in these events was an icebreaker session where the award winners were given the opportunity to interact with each other and with visiting female technologists from companies including Bank of America, State Farm, Raytheon, and Cisco. Parents were able to attend a parent program where they heard about opportunities offered by the University of Texas at Dallas and the University of North Texas.
After the morning welcome sessions, award winners and parents were treated to a luncheon where they heard from NCWIT Aspirations in Computing High School Program Manager, Ammi Ludwick, and Lymari Ames, speaker and project manager/engineering at Cisco. Ms. Ludwick spoke to the young women about NCWIT, the Aspirations Program, the NCWIT community, and the Sit With Me Program, a program dedicated to changing the image in computing. During her speech she highlighted the importance of learning computer science as a woman saying, “ You will give yourself an amazing ticket if you consider majoring or minoring in computer science because the language you will have in your back pocket to pull out after you graduate will take you wherever you want to go.” The award ceremony followed and presentations were made by ViaWest celebrating all the accomplishments of the young women. Each winner received two engraved awards for both their school and themselves, access to a peer network of technical young women in the NCWIT Aspirations Community (sponsored by Bloomberg), and various other prizes from Bank of America and NCWIT.
After the award ceremony, the award winners and their parents were taken on a tour of the ViaWest Data Center, and then treated to a red-chair ceremony sponsored by the Sit With Me program, as well as a panel discussion where attendees were able to do a Q&A session with a panel of female technologists from State Farm, Raytheon, AT&T, a graduate student from UNT, and a UT Dallas Computer Science undergraduate.
The Aspirations program is supported nationally by Apple, AT&T, Bank of America, Bloomberg, Google, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Intel, Microsoft, Motorola Solutions Foundation, Northrop Grumman, and the Symantec Corporation. Bank of America, Celanese, State Farm, Tech Titans, UT Dallas and the UT Dallas Computer Science department, the University of North Texas, and ViaWest sponsored the event at the UT Dallas campus.
The UT Dallas Computer Science Department offers a strong community for female technologists by holding monthly talks presented by the Grace Series, where students are able to hear empowering talks from fellow female members of the tech field, the Women Who Compute (WWC) club. Opportunities to attend events such as the Grace Hopper Conference (see story here) are made available. The UT Dallas Computer Science department also works to inspire high school girls to get them interested in the world of computer science by holding residential camps on the UT Dallas campus. The UT Dallas CS Department ran two residential camps for young women during the month of June 2015; the NCWIT sponsored Connect-Inspire-Guide Camp for Incoming Female Freshmen and The Techy Girls Residential Camp. (See story here)
Dr. Janell Straach, UT Dallas CS professor, works closely with the NCWIT by ensuring that the technology minded women at UT Dallas have a strong community by hosting events, award ceremonies, luncheons, talks, clubs, and trips outside of the UT Dallas Campus. She was instrumental in the creating both of the two residential camps for female technologists.
Theresa Horvath (center) from McKinney High School was awarded the NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Educator Award.
Winners of the 2016 Award for Aspirations in Computing (AiC)
Panel members (from the left): Deana Seigler, Senior Engineering Software Manager at Raytheon, Liz Johnson, Software Developer at State Farm, Monica Mitchell Executive Director of Technology and API Platforms at AT&T, Natalie Parde, Graduate Student at the University of North Texas, and Ashley Handbook, Undergraduate Student studying at UT Dallas CS Department.
Lymari Ames, keynote speaker and project manager/engineering at Cisco.
NCWIT Aspirations in Computing High School Program Manager, Ammi Ludwick.
*Some photos courtesy of Jill Blanchard of Bank of America
Please click here to view additional photos from the Aspirations in Computing Award Celebration & click here to see photos from past UT Dallas CS related events.
About the UT Dallas Computer Science Department
The UT Dallas Computer Science program is one of the largest Computer Science departments in the United States with over 1,600 bachelor’s-degree students, more than 1,100 master’s students, 160 PhD students, and 80 faculty members, as of Fall 2015. With The University of Texas at Dallas’ unique history of starting as a graduate institution first, the CS Department is built on a legacy of valuing innovative research and providing advanced training for software engineers and computer scientists.