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Students Attend Women's Tech Conference

Students Womens Tech ConferenceMonmouth software technology and computer science students attended the Women Engineers Code (WECode) Conference at Harvard University from Feb. 22 through Feb.24.

Seven students majoring in a variety of computer and technology studies attended the three-day coding seminar held at Harvard University’s Northwest Labs.  

WECode is the largest student-run conference for women in computer science in the nation, according to their website. The program is designed for women in the technology industry to connect with other women, learn new skills, and share information. 

Although the program is geared towards women in science and technology, all are encouraged to attend the conference. The students who participated in the conference attended keynote speakers, coding workshops, fireside chats, and yoga. Topics covered in the talks and workshops included web application security, data science, product management, and trading. 

Lauren Niesz, a graduate information systems student, was one of the four female computer science majors from the University to attend the conference but also took part in planning the trip. “The WECode Conference honestly taught me so much. I learned about Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) and Machine Learning, which are fields I was scared of initially, but, after the conference, I really understand them now and find them to be enticing fields to go into myself in the future,” she said.

“Organizing this trip for students was an important part of my life the past few months because given the amazing speakers, workshops, and career fair provided by this conference and its proximity to MU, I found it to be insane that we wouldn’t send students,” continued Niesz.  

Keynote speakers included successful female administrators and executives in all aspects of computer science and software engineering. There were five keynote speakers spread over the three-day event. Catarina Macedo, a Portuguese gaming employee with XBox, presented at the conference, encouraging women to find themselves in the gaming world. 

Another keynote speaker was Pooja Sanker, Founder and CEO of Piazza. Piazza is a website that connects technology students with others so that they can ask questions and converse about their studies. Sanker created the program because when she was studying computer science, she was afraid to ask the male students in her class for help. Because of this, she missed out on learning opportunities Today, more than 2,000 schools and 5,000 professors use Piazza in more than 90 countries. 

Other keynote speakers included Jessica McKellar and Margaret Mayer. McKellar is a software developer and engineer manager from San Francisco. Mayer is the Managing Vice President Messaging, Controversial AI & Emerging Technologies for Capital One. 

Ling Zheng, Ph.D., an assistant professor of computer science and faculty advisor on the conference trip, said, “I think WECode is a very great conference in which every student can find their interested talks and get inspired, especially the keynotes. Keynote speakers are female Harvard graduates who are successful in their fields, like the technical leader from Capital One, the CEO and founder of Piazza, and CMO of GE.”

“Their stories will encourage female students majoring in engineering. In addition, there were several sessions talking about the hot technical topics, such as data science, deep learning, and AR/VR. Furthermore, there are events related to resume writing, interviews, and internship,” said Zheng.

While the conference centered on celebrating women in the field, male students also benefited from the experience. Joshua Schlanger, a senior software engineering student, said “As a future software engineer in this field, being a male ally is super important. This conference was a women in engineering conference, but I was happy that MU sent myself and two other males from the department so that we can be more well-rounded and be more heavily exposed to the issues that surround women in this industry.”  

PHOTO COURTESY of Lauren Niesz

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