Student group receives grant to fund computer science seminar for women

Grant to encourage women to pursue careers in computer science and engineering

12/17/2013 - By: Kirstin Swagman
Catherine Pollock, Yaakov Varol, Manos Maragakis and Malia Fredrickson NCWIT Aspirations in Computing award winner Catherine Pollock with Malia Frederickson from NCWIT, Dr. Yaakov Varol and Dean Manos Maragakis.

The University of Nevada, Reno's student chapter of WiCSE, or Women into Computer Science and Engineering, is stepping up its efforts to encourage more women to pursue careers in computing and technology.

WiCSE was recently awarded a $1,000 grant from the national organization NCWIT, the National Center for Women & Information Technology. The grant, part of NCWIT's Student Seed Fund, goes to student-led initiatives that promote involvement of women in computer science.

WiCSE will use the funds to host an introduction to computer science seminar for women. WiCSE plans to invite undecided majors from the University as well as area community college and high school students.

"The efforts and enthusiasm with regards to women in computing at the University of Nevada, Reno are building," said Nancy LaTourrette, computer science and engineering lecturer and WiCSE faculty advisor. "The funding of the proposal submitted by WiCSE will be a major contribution to continue our forward momentum."

The event will be modeled after the national Hour of Code event for K-12 students and will include both an introducing to coding as well as speakers from WiCSE and the computer science and engineering faculty.

University of Nevada, Reno freshman and computer science and engineering major Catherine Pollock put together the winning grant proposal.

"I came up with the idea when I was reading about the Hour of Code held by CS Ed Week," Pollock said. "I hope participants leave with a better understanding of what computer science and engineering is as well as opportunities available to them through it as women."

Pollock was one of 35 winners of NCWIT's Award for Aspirations in Computing in 2013, a competitive national award designed to encourage young women to pursue careers in computing and technology. Pollock, along with five other young women from Nevada high schools and a teacher from Hug High in Reno, were honored at the College of Engineering's Spring Celebration in 2013. Malia Fredrickson, the Aspirations in Computing Project Manager for NCWIT, attended the event.

The NCWIT Student Seed Fund is sponsored by Symantec, and it has awarded more than $53,000 to 80 student-run programs across the U.S. For more information on current and past seed grant winners, please visit NCWIT's webpage.

In addition to the seminar, WiCSE holds a number of internal events for women in computer science and engineering at the University, including homework nights and social activities to help foster an atmosphere of academic and community support for women in these fields.


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