The Grace Series kicked off the new fall 2016 semester on September 14th with guest speaker, Romelia H. Flores, an IBM distinguished engineer and IBM Master Inventor. Romelia’s Grace Series talk brought in a full room of eager UT Dallas CS/SE students who wished to learn more about her journey as a leader and female technologist.
The Grace Series talks deliver insight into the role of women in today’s technology fields by having female technologists provide technical presentations. The talks aim to provide inspiration and a sense of community for female graduate and undergraduate students studying computer science and software engineering at UT Dallas.
The Grace Series Talks feature a wide range of speakers including UT Dallas CS alumni, UT Dallas CS/SE professors, and other distinguished female technologists. Drs. Puspha Kumar, Janell Straach, and Linda Morales conceived the idea of the UT Dallas Grace Series while attending the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing (GHC) Conference a few years ago. The conference, fittingly named after the woman who helped pioneer computer programming, Rear Admiral Dr. Grace Murray Hopper, involves a series of presentations designed to bring research and career interests of women in computing to the forefront. Every year, GHC brings together the community of women technologists, highlighting the best minds in computing and spotlighting the contributions of women to computing. The UT Dallas Computer Science Grace Series lectures are fashioned after the GHC Conference format.
Before handing the floor over to Romelia Flores, UT Dallas CS professors Drs. Gopal Gupta, Janell Straach, and Pushpa Kumar, began the evening by delivering their individual opening remarks. At each Grace Series Talks, the evening begins with Dr. Gupta speaking about the importance of this series and a brief introduction to the talk. Following Dr. Gupta, Dr. Pushpa Kumar shared with the students a quote from Oprah Winfrey on self-determination and asked those attending to start an open dialogue with the person sitting next to them about their self-determination and any obstacles they have overcome. Dr. Janell Straach then followed Dr. Pushpa with her segment titled “Eyes of a Digital Diva,” the premise of her segment was to show the eyes of a strong female figure and have the students guess to whom the eyes belong by listening to clues about the person. During this talk, Dr. Straach presented the students with the Digital Diva, Katherine Johnson, American physicist, space scientist, mathematician, and a pioneer in American space history.
At the inaugural fall 2016 Grace Series, Romelia H. Flores, who was accompanied by her daughter, Christina Flores, delivered her talk titled, “Career Roadmap with a Cognitive Flair!” During her talk, Romelia talked about her journey as a young Latina technologist from the small town of Eagle Pass in East Texas all the way to the present day where she is an accomplished Distinguished Engineer and Master Inventor at IBM. Romelia marked each section of her career with key words that described her journey. These words included competence, commitment, communication, collaboration, creativity, and community. Romelia’s resume is vast and impressive as she is one of IBM’s top 500 technical executives. She has collaborated with some of IBM’s largest clients around technology innovation and currently holds 25 patents with an additional 26 patents pending. Romelia became a University of Texas alumna 32 years ago and a Baylor Honorary Alumna in 2014. In 2008, she earned the title of IBM Distinguished Engineer and in 2009, she earned the title of IBM Master Inventor. It is important to note that only 10% of the IBM Distinguished Engineers are female. With that number being so small, Romelia has been on a mission to go out into surrounding communities to inspire young women to take part in technology.
Currently, Romelia works with millennials in the IBM Summit Architect program involving 15 to 20 young millennials to groom them to become architects. She also finds joy by working with her community. She is currently working with the city of Dallas and the HackDFW event, she assisted in putting in the new IBM THINK exhibit in the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, and she is currently working with the city of Dallas to revive the West End section of downtown Dallas by injecting new technology into the area.
Towards the end of her talk Romelia shared advice with those in the room, saying “Surround yourself with people who want you to succeed, this is a key part to your success.” In 2016, Romelia received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Great Minds in Stem Conference. In October, She will be receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award for her service and commitment to STEM.
You can view Romelia’s presentation here.
To view additional photos from the event, Click Here.