University News

Women in CS awarded for outreach

By
Contributing Writer
Thursday, October 20, 2011

It’s been another successful year for the Brown Women in Computer Science group, or WiCS, which recently learned it was a recipient of a Student Seed Fund Award from the National Center for Women and Information Technology.

The $500 award, given to student-run initiatives promoting women in computer science, rewards WiCS for its lead role in a program called the Artemis Project, said Jenny Slade, the center’s communications director.

The Artemis Project, a five-week summer day camp providing technical computer science training to rising 9th grade girls in the Providence area, is run by female undergraduates studying computer science. It received a $15,000 Microsoft Rresearch and National Center for Women and Information Technology award last year. Specific allocation of this year’s grant will be determined by WiCS leaders.

“By participating in mentoring relationships and sharing an enthusiasm for computing, the high school students develop skills, interests and confidence in computing which they can apply by studying computing at the college level,” Slade said. “The Brown students develop teaching and outreach skills that will enhance their professional computing careers.”

The grant will allow WiCS to attend academic and professional conferences, said Marquita Ellis ’12, president of WiCS. The group is also considering funding a scholarship and creating technical preparation programs. “We are developing plans for technical resume writing workshops and mock-interview events.  Additionally, we are testing out an idea to create a study group program for reviewing fundamental material taught in introductory courses, such as algorithms and data structures,” Ellis said. “Our list of potential programs extends far beyond this.”

Within the Computer Science Department, reaction to the grant was positive. “We are thrilled that the (National Center for Women and Information Technology) has chosen to support the WiCS,” said Amy Tarbox, manager for the department’s Industrial Partners Program. The WiCS group will use the grant for “new academic support, outreach and scholarship programs that have been in the works for some time,” she said.

WiCS will hold a meeting within the next few weeks to work out details of how the money should be allocated, Ellis said. The group will also seek advice from staff and professors in the department.

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