I attended the womENcourage conference in Uppsala, Sweden in September 2015 which was organized by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). The ACM-W Europe womENcourage Celebration of Women in Computing is a scientific event, and also an event aimed at networking and exploring career opportunities for women in computer science and related disciplines. This conference brings together undergraduate, Masters, and PhD. students, as well as researchers and professionals, to present and share their achievements and experience.
Being an undergraduate student, I was very pleased to receive a travel scholarship to attend the conference. I was very excited and did all sort of preparations, as this was my first time to visit Sweden. The conference was for three days from 24th to 27th September. After having a long journey from Birmingham I finally made it to the conference venue on time. The conference kicked off with a Hackathon competition on the first day from 8:30 on Thursday morning. It was amazing to see that participants came from 17 different countries, I started networking with them and soon assembled a team and started discussing our project ideas.
We were given hardware which includes Intel’s Galileo board and various sensors. As all the projects were needed to be submitted by 5 pm on the same day, without wasting time we soon started discussing our ideas and planned how we are going to implement our project. Our team was very diverse with three different nationalities, we as a team collaborated very nicely and all became fast friends. Our project “Be My Eyes” was about designing a device useful for visually impaired people. The device can be put on their walking stick to provide information about the site they are on, obstacles that they have to avoid, or tourist attractions that are nearby. The device uses GPS which interfaces via Bluetooth to other devices. We all were very pleased, that our project won the third award in the competition. This story was even published in the Swedish newspaper, which can be found here.
The next two days were jam packed with various activities as well. The program included technical presentations, panel discussions, technical paper sessions, hands-on workshops and keynote talks.
I particularly enjoyed the workshop on ‘Introducing Alice’ which was run by the Oracle. Alice is a virtual learning tool which teaches programming concepts through developing 3-D Animations. Among others talks, I find the keynote speech on 3D Modelling and career in Computer Graphic particularly interesting. I learned about why graphical design is essential for human creativity and about the new methodology which is emerging to ease the interactive design of complex shapes, objects, and characters in motion.
As time flies, the three days were gone, it was the time to head back to the UK. I was very exhausted but delighted with this experience and all the contact I made throughout this period. I will always cherish my time in Sweden for this wonderful experience and the friends I made from different parts of the world.
I highly recommend other female students to attend this conference as it is a fantastic opportunity for female technologists to network with so many like-minded people. I am more than happy to help with the application process or even if anyone has any questions please don’t hesitate to contact. (More info about the conference http://womencourage.acm.org/index.cfm#home-ref)