Tuesday, May 20, 2008

About Me in Relation to WISE

Our Women in Science and Engineering, or WISE, group is working on a website to be released sometime this summer. I wrote up the following little "About Me" that will, more or less, be used on the website. Since I talk about why I chose grad school and similar topics, I thought it would be worth sharing.

Undergraduate Studies

My choice

As far back as I can remember, I have had a computer in my bedroom. True, they weren’t the latest model by any means (heck, I remember my black and yellow monitor that I used to play Reader Rabbit on!). But having any kind of access to the world of computing made me wonder early on: How does it all work? By the time I reached high school, the choice to study computer science was clear!

Graduate Studies

About Me

I spent five years at Carleton doing my undergraduate degree in computer science. The reason it took an extra year is that I also participated in co-op. I worked on CorelDRAW for a couple of work terms, and on embedded systems programming at Ross Video for another few. Now I’m back at it, working toward a Masters of Computer Science.

Why grad school

I wasn’t originally planning to go to grad school. After all, I had some great experiences with my co-op jobs, and both companies I worked for were interested in hiring me. What’s more, I had just bought a house and was planning to get married in the summer after I graduated. I wasn’t so sure grad school was really in the budget. Luckily, Jit Bose, who is now my supervisor, convinced me otherwise. “There are many scholarships available, and since they are tax free, you won’t be making that much less than most entry level jobs,” he said. So I applied for some scholarships just to see what would happen, and now here I am!

Life after my Masters degree

The decision of whether to continue to a PhD depends largely on how much I enjoy the research aspects of my Masters. There are many other factors to consider, as well: for example, when should I start a family? Do I want to make more money to support said family? Do I want the stressed involved with academia? Because I have recently realized how much I love to teach and help students gain a love of computer science, I suspect I will probably be in the school setting for some time to come, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

Long-term goals

I have a passion for instilling the love of computer science in others. No matter what I do, I think I will always have some part of my life that helps me continue with that. My goals may include teaching in university, or having some kind of leadership role in an exciting technology company.

Women in Science and Engineering

My feelings about being a woman in computer science

I hate to admit it, but being one of the few can sometimes be fun. Everyone knows you because you’re different, and there are many opportunities for those in the minority (like scholarships). But even then, there really are still too few. I don’t really expect to ever see half the class be female, but certainly more than one in ten would be nice.

Why I joined WISE

I think that computer science is an incredibly rewarding career for us, so I would feel good knowing that women didn’t avoid giving it a try just because of the barriers related to being one of the only females. Besides, a woman always seems to bring a different perspective to the table than a man does. I see WISE as a way to help break down the barriers, making the academic experience for current students that much better, and making the subjects more appealing to those considering taking them on.

Why I recommend joining WISE

Meeting other women with similar interests from your program, getting advice on surviving as the minority, encouraging younger girls to give science and engineering a shot, learning about new opportunities in the industry and graduate school…how could you NOT want to join WISE?

Other Interests

My coolest non-academic accomplishment to date is getting my black belt in ITF Taekwon Do. I also love yoga, snowboarding, and even ride a motorcycle. I’m married, don’t have kids (yet!), and am looking forward to a bright future here in my little hick town.


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