Seniors’ Conference Experiences

As previously posted, seniors Nicole Carter and Anne Van Devender were awarded scholarships to attend conferences earlier this month. Here is a brief summary of their conference experiences.

Nicole Carter’s Experience at the Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing

Nicole in Oregon
Nicole in Portland, Oregon

I thought the conference was an amazing experience to see the types of projects that are taking place all over the country. There was definitely a great sense of pride of being a part of this growing conference which helps motivate and inspire students and faculty from different organizations and schools to work in computing or related fields.

Nicole and Chas
Networking at a conference is important! Nicole and Chas

The most interesting thing I learned was the current implementation of tele-immersive technology, which allows two people to dance in two different geographic locations and puts them in a virtual 3D space, which looks as if the people are really interacting. This topic was presented by Ruzena Bajcsy who is collaborating with UC-Berkley and Illinois-UC. This research was so fascinating because it gives new meaning to what it means to be in a space, especially when you are not really there.

The most interesting person I met was Prof. Andrew Williams who teaches at Spelman College. His family was so poor that his bed used to be a cardboard box, yet he still was motivated to go to grad school and get his Phd and was able to coach a winning all women robotics team at Spelman.

Anne Van Devender’s Experience at CHI (Computer-Human Interaction)

The conference was great. It really is amazing to see all of the great minds in HCI come together in one place. The whole thing was really inspiring. Just walking down the halls of the convention center, I saw people who I had read about in my HCI course or in Interactions magazine.

I think the most interesting event or talk has to fall into two separate categories: entertainment and interest. The most entertaining talk was on “The Status of Ethnography in Systems Design.” It was basically a debate on whether or not ethnography should be used for design. It was just these two groups presenting absurd powerpoints to argue their points. The most interesting talks to me were the ones on “Online Relationships” and “Computer-mediated Communication.” There is a lot of potential in each of those areas.

As for the most interesting person I met, I think just the graduate students in general. I would say 85% of the talks I went to were led by graduate students and that really surprised me. It was very exciting to see such impressive research being done by students!

Overall, the conference was a great experience and I think more W&L students should attend them so that they can see what research looks like!