Oct 28, 2009
School of Engineering, Coimbatore
Ask an average Indian student of computer science, “Who was Grace Hopper?” and chances are that you will be met with a blank stare. This early pioneer of the computing world invented the program that is used by all programmers world-wide today — the compiler. COBOL, one of the earliest languages used in computer science, was developed largely based on her work.
The Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC) of Women in Computing Conference is an annual event attended by over a thousand women from nearly one hundred countries world-wide.
This year, Meenakshi Amritharaj, student of Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham’s School of Engineering at Coimbatore was also invited to participate. Meenakshi was one of three students from India chosen to attend the conference.
“It was a great opportunity,” she shared, later. “I applied and received a scholarship from Google to participate; Google sponsored all registration, travel and other expenses. I presented a paper at the conference on FOSS in Business. But most of all, the conference provided me a chance to learn about the amazing work being done by women world-wide in the fields of computer science and engineering.”
Such as Megan J. Smith, VP (New Business Development) at Google.org, who has led the development of technologies for Google Earth, Google Maps and Picasa. Or Josephine Cheng, IBM Fellow and VP, who delivered an invited talk titled, Building a Smarter Planet. Josephine spoke about research initiatives at the IBM Research Center that she oversees, such as smart energy and water and smart healthcare.
The conference also honored women from several places on the planet with 2009 Change Agent Awards.
Halima Ibrahim from Nigeria, Director of a Women’s Skill Acquisition Center that provides ICT and handcrafts skills training for underprivileged women and Anne Ikiara from Nairobi, GM of Nairobits Trust, that has empowered hundreds of women and youth through ICT skills training, were among the women honored.
“Every year the conference has a theme,” further shared Meenakshi. “This year it was Creating Technology for Social Good.” “We use technology to connect our communities,” the blurb on the conference website stated. “We lead with compassion and a belief in inclusion. We develop competitive products and find solutions to problems that impact our lives, our nation, our world.”
The conference was organized at Tuscon, Arizona in USA, September 30 – October 3, 2009.
Amrita’s Meenakshi Amritharaj, was joined by two other students from India, both from IIT Delhi, and nearly 1600 other women that included business leaders, heads of non-profit organizations, PhD, graduate and undergraduate students at this landmark event. We congratulate Meenakshi for taking Amrita to this prestigious forum.