Whether you’re digging out of a snowdrift or counting daffodils, you’re probably aware that Spring is in the air. Fittingly, the 2013 crop of newly hatched Award for Aspirations in Computing recipients is bursting with talent and passion. Nearly every week we’ve watched hundreds of young women stand in front of their communities to accept an award for their computing and technology talents — and then smile, jump up-and-down, and hug each other as their acknowledgment sinks in. We love knowing that they are growing up in an age of technology-driven opportunity and innovation, and that they’re on fertile ground with support from educational institutions, companies, and individuals along the way.
NCWIT is happy to announce AspireIT, a new program that pairs Award for Aspirations in Computing recipients with NCWIT Academic and K-12 Alliance members to bring computing programs to middle school girls around the country. The pilot programs will provide more than 25,000 hours of computer science programming to nearly 800 girls in 15 states, through summer camps, winter break camps, school-based clubs, and Saturday workshops. We are excited to see the outcomes these programs will yield! AspireIT is sponsored by startup funding from Intel, Northrop Grumman and Google.
In January 2013, 11 Aspirations Award recipients were invited to attend the White House Tech Inclusion Summit, (hosted by White House CTO Todd Park) “an unprecedented gathering of innovative thinkers from business, government, non-profits, and the tech world seeking to ensure that all Americans have the opportunity to learn tech skills–particularly those from underserved and historically underrepresented communities, including women and girls.” NCWIT was honored to be included in this conversation and it turned out to be a great networking opportunity for all. The students who attended include sisters Cassidy and Camryn Williams from Iowa State University; Lauren Winston and Stephanie Su from Georgia Tech; Jinisha Patel from the New Jersey Institute of Technology; Dominique Torres from Minnesota State, Julie Hubschman from Goucher College; Allison Collier from Massaponax High School; Ada Taylor from MIT; Tess Rinearson from Carnegie Mellon University; and Roya Edalatpour from the University of Texas at El Paso.
The NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing regional celebrations kicked off in January with the Indiana affiliate event. Facebook Director of Engineering Jocelyn Goldfein keynoted the Bay Area award ceremony; the Missouri/Kansas award recipients were treated to an insider view of the Mars Rover Curiosity landing from NASA’s Alicia Dwyer Cianciolo; and in Massachusetts, Google’s Stacy Wong gave a keynote on big data and the University of Massachusetts schools announced generous scholarships. We’re also thrilled to welcome award recipients from Dallas/Ft. Worth, Kansas/Missouri, Washington State, and many other regional affiliates. Check out the celebration photos at our Flickr site or email firstname.lastname@example.org to get connected to your regional team — award celebrations will be ongoing in the months to come.
“Our students, parents, and I enjoyed every minute of Friday’s celebration and were impressed with the sincerity and professionalism of everyone involved in making the event happen. You and the others who made this all happen made a huge impact on our young women, and we are grateful to you for it. Thank you.
That evening, while we were sitting around the table enjoying the good food and everyone’s company, one of our dads asked, ‘What do you think?’ And his daughter responded, ‘I’m more sure than ever I’m heading the right direction.’“
On March 9 we recognized the national winners of the NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing at a celebration hosted by Bank of America in Charlotte, North Carolina. The weekend started off with an ice-breaker pizza dinner for the winners and their parents, followed by a winners-only pool party. Award-winners attended technical and career workshops and toured top-secret Bank of America technical facilities. At a star-studded evening ceremony featuring an audience of peers, parents, and tech executives — and described by one young woman as “better than any prom” — each winner was recognized with $500, a laptop, and two glittering trophies — one for herself and one for her school’s trophy case.
Following the ceremony the winners re-grouped for a pajama party, where they were surprised with an additional gift bag assembled by AT&T CIO (and NCWIT board member) Thaddeus Arroyo and his staff and vendors. The bag included a Microsoft Surface, Blackberry backpack, and Jabra Bluetooth. Feeling totally spoiled and very much appreciated, the winners danced to an Xbox Kinect, snapped photos, and chatted until late into the night. As one award-winner said, “I had the best time of my life. I am now so inspired and excited to continue pursuing computing. I made many new friends [and] learned a lot of invaluable information about myself, networking, and the industry and field.“
NCWIT formally launched the Aspirations Community initiative in March with a special event sponsored by Bloomberg. In partnership with FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) New York City, NCWIT held a Young Women in Technology Social where about 150 NYC-area young women and their parents, coaches, and mentors networked, socialized, and learned about the NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Program. Bloomberg also hosted a VIP tour and dinner at its offices, where the young women had a chance to meet Bloomberg developers. The attendees were pretty impressed with Bloomberg and left convinced that they were going to work in tech someday!
Aspirations in Computing is a talent development program that identifies and supports young women pursuing computing and technology disciplines. The Award for Aspirations in Computing competition, which drives the program, recognizes young women at the high-school level for their computing-related achievements and interests. By providing young women with prizes from national and local sponsors, recognition in their communities, opportunities for scholarships and internships, and access to a community of other technical women, the Aspirations Program increases the number of young women who pursue technical careers and builds a talent pool for the growing technical workforce. Aspirations in Computing is supported nationally by Microsoft, Bank of America, Motorola Solutions, Google, Intel, Bloomberg, and Northrop Grumman.