GHC15: Building Engagement


I’m so very excited for this years Grace Hopper Celebration in Houston Texas.

You’d think that after attending, what 6 or 7 times, things would become routine. On the contrary, the GHC conferences are the most evolutional events I’ve ever attended. The year over year growth is a big driving factor of change in the way things are managed and experienced each year, mix that with the fact that all of the attendees are innovators in tech and there is no way two experiences can be the same.

This year I am most excited about the level of engagement we are seeing in the online communities before the conference. We’ve all been working on building a community and it is working. Particularly this year I’m seeing students leveraging crowd sourcing platforms to help fund their travel to GHC! I’m going to post the ones I am aware of here:  

  All of these students have registration codes, have applied for scholarships and will apply to be a hopper, they have reached $1695 of their $3000 funding goal.


This one needs to reach its goal by Aug 7th, thus far $2890 of $4000 has been raised, check out their video

  To support some local students at RICE, check out this fund


  These students have until August 1st to reach their funding goal of $8000, and also have registration codes check out their profiles on the great website. If you are a company they offer promoting job descriptions on their boards as well as advertisement on t-shirts they will wear at GHC in exchange.


Why is this exciting?

For years as a grad student a group of women and I fought with our ever changing department structure varying budgets and attempts to become a recognized official club so that we could have access to student government resources. (These resources are more than just funds, but office space, student email access, recruiting event tables etc.) So in a given year we’d organize a bunch of events, we’d tutor k-12 students, we’d provide study groups for members, social events, organize professional talks etc, and yet all of our resources came directly from our members because there was no official avenue for funds to be earmarked for our group. Countless times money that had been set aside for travel to GHC got swept into other accounts and other events because it wasn’t ours.

Why wouldn’t our club get approved?

Because the student government claimed there were too many other womens groups that they thought we should just become a part of instead of creating more division within the members. Now, yes there were other womens groups, SWE, a sub group of IEEE: WIE, a sub group of NSBE: women specific. However in our university these were primarily allocating their funds and efforts to industrial, civil, mechanical and electrical engineering conferences and students and had their own rules and regulations and if the womens groups were a sub group then they were treated as the same organization under the eyes of student governemnt funding. Which means if IEEE went to a robotics event (not women specific) then the funds were used up and special requests had to be made. We were different, we were WEECS (women in electrical engineering and computer science). Although EE was in our name, generally speaking (as I was an EE) we were the EE that were close to CS, machine learning, signal processing, etc mostly software that is closer to the hardware than traditional CS. But our interests were intertwined with CpE and CS more.

A new path

The experience I had each year changed because I as a woman in tech had changed. The things I needed support on had changed, maybe it was the PhD Forum one year that I needed, or the career fair the next, maybe it was leadership development, or mentoring, every year it has been different for me and I’ve been able to give back via volunteering with the communities committee each year connecting folks.

But this year there is another way I can help, I can pay it forward for all the times someone funded part of my trip, and I have personally funded in some small way the above mentioned groups. I’ve never met them to my knowledge, but thats sort of the point. As the path gets paved for groups to get funding they don’t need my help any more, those that have an opportunity to attend but lack the resources do.

So this year I’m most excited to help crowd source these efforts and get these groups integrated into our community so they too will be able to help the next generation trying everything they can to better themselves and their community.

Until next time.

-Signing off, your co-chair for the #GHC15 communities committee.