University News

Google.org Awards Women in Computing Students with Grant

Published: August 19, 2016 | Author: Lexi Carter | Category: Academics

Women in ComputingThe National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) has selected Southern Utah University to receive a 2016 NCWIT Student Seed Fund award sponsored by NCWIT and Google.org. SUU, in collaboration with Dixie State University, will receive $3000 to create a chapter of the Association of Computing Machinery – Women (ACM-W) and to send twenty students to the Rocky Mountain Celebration of Women in Computing conference held September 22 – 23 for the first time in Salt Lake City.  

Many students in southern Utah lack exposure to quality computer science and math-related opportunities. Rural locations hinder funding opportunities and regular cooperation, but this grant will help bridge the gap.

The grant money will allow both SUU and DSU to create a chapter of ACM-W to facilitate professional level networking, increase female students’ confidence and enjoyment of their technical studies and to empower students to actively recruit and mentor other women.

The grant proposal was prepared based on feedback by students at SUU in the existing Women in Computing club, led by Jacqueline Varner, and Dr. Cecily Heiner, assistant professor of computer science, provided a letter of support as faculty advisor. Carol Stander is the faculty advisor facilitating the work on the Dixie State portion of the project. 

“There is a lot of concern that women are highly underrepresented in computing,” said Heiner. “Computer science and information systems is actually a great field of work for women because of the versatility of your schedule and the problem-solving nature of the field. This program aims to equalize opportunities for everybody.”

As another part of the grant project, 20 students will participate in 5-10 hours of outreach activities to help K12 and prospective students gain exposure and experience in computer science.

The conference provides social support, networking, and exposure to all in attendance. Students present their research and network with leaders from higher education institutions, government agencies and industry professionals. This unique opportunity encourages the career interests of local women in computing and unites local women and neighboring states.

Southern Utah University is a member of the academic alliance of NCWIT, an organization that brings together hundreds of constituents to assist in institutional change. ABET accredited bachelor programs in both computer science and information systems are offered through the university, as well as a new master degree in cyber security and information alliance.

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