CECS Delegates Heading to Grace Hopper Celebration

gracehopperThere will be hundreds of women in computing at the annual Grace Hopper Celebration this month in Houston. And two will be from the CSULB College of Engineering’s Computer Engineering and Computer Science Department.

Assistant Professor Birgit Penzenstadler is delivering a lightning talk on “Designing Future Software for Sustainability: The Karlskrona Manifesto.” Her Thelma Estrin Award from the Anita Borg Institute is funding her conference participation. Penzenstadler, the only faculty to receive a full scholarship for interdisciplinary research, will be accompanied by computer science senior Elena Caceres, whose participation is being sponsored by Palantir Technologies.

“The Grace Hopper Conference provides me with the great opportunity to broadcast my sustainability research to a wide, inspiring audience of women in computing,” Penzenstadler said.

“I’m very excited for the upcoming event and very grateful to Dr. Penzenstadler, from whom I learned about the conference and who wrote a recommendation for me,” said Caceres. “This will be a great opportunity to learn more about other women in engineering and how their careers developed. I also hope to meet my sponsor, Palantir Technologies, and learn more about what they do.”

The Thelma Estrin Award commemorates the late Dr. Thelma Estrin, a pioneer in the field of biomedical engineering and a UCLA computer science professor. It was established by her daughter Judy Estrin, a serial entrepreneur and author who worked with Vint Cerf on the TCP-project at Stanford University.

Penzenstadler and Caceres are among more than 455 students and 25 faculty members worldwide to receive scholarships to attend this year’s Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, scheduled from Oct. 14-16 in Houston.

“More women are entering and excelling in the field of computing, and there is no better place to see the depth of talent and scale of impact that they can have on technology innovation than the Grace Hopper Celebration,” said Telle Whitney, President and CEO of the Anita Borg Institute. “The Grace Hopper Celebration has a legacy of leaving an indelible impression on attendees that continues to encourage, motivate and help advance women through their education and careers.”

GHC, the largest gathering of women in computing in the world, expects 12,000 attendees this year, a 50 percent increase from the previous year. This year, ABI received 1,880 scholarship submissions, a 25 percent increase from the year prior. Twenty six percent of applications were accepted.

Honorees were chosen based on need, isolation factor, impact she would have on the conference, impact she would have on her university, and whether she has attended GHC in the past. As a part of the Scholars community, honorees join an invite-only Facebook group along with pre- and post-event Google Hangouts, arranged by ABI to foster community and networking.

Many universities, organizations, and officials are pushing for more women in the computing field, including President Obama. According to statistics he cited, fewer than one in five bachelor’s degrees in engineering or computer science are earned by women. Fewer than three in 10 workers in science and engineering are women.