On 31 March 2016, about 180 people descended on Sheffield Hallam University for the BCSWomen Lovelace Colloquium. Unusually for a computer science conference, more than half of these were young women: this is BCSWomen’s main event for women students, and this year was our biggest yet. We were hosted at Hallam, with support from the University of Sheffield. As we aim the event at students it is important to support their travel costs (and accommodation) as well as the day, so we rely heavily on corporate sponsorship for this. Our headline sponsor was SAP, who generously covered lots of student travel and the MSc poster contest. Additional student travel came from our silver sponsor, Google, who were back for the 9th year running.
You can see a full set of photos from the event on flickr.
The day was a superb day of talks, posters, discussion, networking, and as is traditional for “The Lovelace”, slightly too much cake. Unlike many conferences we actually have a dedicated cake sponsor, this year Bloomberg, who also give out doughnuts on their stall for getting programming quiz questions right.
The day kicked off (after a welcome from me, as organiser) with a keynote from Sarah Winmill, Director of IT for professional services, UCL. This keynote was packed full of excellent careers advice, and had the audience on the edge of their seats. Sarah gave such a superb talk that on the feedback forms asking for “marks out of 10” she got infinity, 20, 15, “10 is not enough” and several 11s.
After the first of many cake breaks, Shahrzad Zargari and Sue Beckingham (Sheffield Hallam) spoke about Open Source Intelligence, which featured a scary section where Shahrzad showed how easy it was to stalk someone across different social media sites. I know I reviewed my privacy settings as a result of this!
At lunch we all got vouchers to choose our own food from the canteen, thanks to ARM, who sponsored lunch. Talking to people there, this might have been a bit too much choice. Some had curry, some had salads or sandwiches, and me? I had the fish finger sandwich. Classy. Lunch at the Lovelace also features the poster contest, and the judging, so it lasts for a long time (although not long enough if you’re trying to present your poster!).
After lunch Carolyn Johnson (JP Morgan) about their Technology for Social Good program, showing how JP Morgan employees are supported and encouraged to get out there and change things for the better. The last talk of the day was proper science fiction stuff, from Mahnaz Arvaneh (University of Sheffield). Mahnaz spoke about Brain Computer Interfaces, which enable people to move and control comptuters and robots (including wheelchairs) just using their thoughts.
We finished with a careers panel session, which had representatives from SAP, Google, and ScottLogic talking about careers in industry, and Jessica Zeun of Zeun Consulting representing the small business perspective and Helen Miles of Aberystwyth University representing the academic perspective. The aim of this session is to get the students to drive the agenda – any questions they have about life, work, work-life balance, study, babies, mentors, impostor syndrome… any question at all goes.
At the end of the day we repaired to the Sheffield Hallam students’ Union where ScottLogic, sponsored the bar tab at our end-of-day social, and provided a buffet of tasty snacks.
Here’s the full list of student winners
The first year contest, sponsored by JP Morgan, had the following winners:
- First place (£300) went to Ruth Sartain of Sheffield Hallam with a poster entitled “Could programmers become the next Bach?”
- Second place (£200) went to Mollie Coleman and Hollie Baker, of Bath University with a poster entitled “How the Arduino inspires creativity in Computer Science”
The second year contest (also open to students on a year in industry, or in their third year of a four year degree) was sponsored by GE, and had the following winners:
- First place (£300) went to Margaret Carlin of Queens University Belfast, with a poster entitled “Time critical applications in the healthcare industry”
- Second place (£200) went to Olivia Ruston of Bath University, with a poster about “The future of wearables”
The final year contest (also open to students in the penultimate year of integrated Masters, e.g. an MEng course) was sponsored by EMC, and had the following winners:
- First place (£300) went to Jessica Lettall of Liverpool University with a poster entitled “An app to promote resilience in home carers”
- Second place (£200) went to Imogen Gough of Manchester University, with a poster about “Models for Neurons and Neuronal Networks”
The contest for MSc students (or students in the fourth year of an integrated Masters, e.g. an MEng course) was sponsored by SAP, and the winners were:
- First place (£300) went to Rachmawaty Sudirman of Manchester University, with a poster about “Mobile expert system for Cacao pests and disease diagnosis”
- Second place (£200) went to Preethi Jayaraj of Hertfordshire University, with a poster entitled “Software Testing – a myth or a priority?”
All attendees are asked to vote for the people’s choice award by selecting their two favourite posters. These votes are tallied up and the top two or three get awards, sponsored this year by TigerFace games. This year there was a tie so we have three winners, each getting £50.
- Jane Parker of the University of Bath with “The creativity in computer science”
- Leah Clarke of Durham University with “Detecting hidden data in images: Steganalysis vs Steganography
- Didi Gradinarska of Aberystwyth University with “Can Hololens be the industry’s augmented reality game changer?”