BLACKSBURG, Va., April 23, 2012 – The Virginia/Washington, D.C., affiliate of the National Center for Women and Information Technology held its first Award for Aspirations in Computing ceremony March 31 in Fairfax, Va. The regional organization, formed by George Mason University, Virginia Tech, and the University of Virginia, honored two high school teachers and 10 high school students with awards, for their efforts to, respectively, teach and learn computer science.
Winning teachers were Rebecca Dovi, of Patrick Henry High School in Ashland, and Lynn Norris of Deep Run High School in Glen Allen.
Student winners were Allison Collier of Massaponax High School in Fredericksburg; Allison Grasmeder of Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington; Rhey Igou of Patrick Henry High School in Ashland; Elynn Lee, Buckingham County High School, Buckingham; Thai-Co Nguyen, Thomas Jefferson High School, Alexandria; Taylor O’Brien of Goodwin High School in Richmond; Kristina Pham of Deep Run High School in Glen Allen; Syeda Quadry, Forest Park High School, Woodbridge; Connie Scoggins of Thomas Jefferson High School in Alexandria; and Hannah Swenson, Governor’s School for Science and Technology, Hampton.
Student runners-up were Pooja Chandrashekar of Thomas Jefferson High School in Alexandria; Shelby Evans of Deep Run High School in Glen Allen; Crystalin Harris of Matoaca High School in Chesterfield County; Wei Low of Gar-Field High School in Woodbridge; Jordan Newton of Deep Run High School in Glen Allen; and Michelle Wang of Thomas Jefferson High School in Alexandria.
All of the honorees were from Virginia.
At the Aspirations in Computing ceremony, the honorees heard from two speakers: Letitia Long, director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, and a 1982 graduate of Virginia Tech’s electrical engineering program, and Diane Reineke, vice president of business development and account management for the Intelligence Systems Division of Northrop Grumman. Long is the first female director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, which is directly tied to the Pentagon.
The Fairfax event was funded with $2,000 in seed money from the national organization, with additional financial support and gifts for the winners provided by Amazon.com Inc., Google Inc., and Northrop Grumman. Winners received a Kindle Fire tablet, an Amazon gift card, and a trophy. Runners-up also received prizes.
At the regional and national levels, the Award for Aspirations in Computing honors young women at the high-school level for their computing-related achievements and interests. Awardees are selected for their computing and information technology (IT) aptitude, leadership ability, academic history, and plans for post-secondary education.
Winners of the Virginia/Washington, D.C. regional Award for Aspirations in Computing are offered a $1,000 renewable scholarship if they choose to study within the Department of Computer Science, part of the Virginia Tech College of Engineering, according to Barbara Ryder, head of the department.
The national Award for Aspirations in Computing is part of the National Center for Women and Information Technology talent development program that encourages young women to succeed in a field where they are underrepresented. The program provides young women with visibility, community, leadership opportunities, support, research experiences, scholarships, and internships.
Winners of the national award include Elena Nadolinski, of Fairfax, Va., now a freshman at Virginia Tech studying computer science. Awarded the honor while at W.T. Woodson High School, Nadolinksi was invited to the White House in December 2011 as part of a National Center for Women and Information Technology event.
Since 2007, the Award for Aspirations in Computing has recognized more than 700 young women; 93 percent of the award recipients currently in college report majoring or minoring in a science or technology field, according to the group’s website.
The College of Engineering at Virginia Tech is internationally recognized for its excellence in 14 engineering disciplines and computer science. The college's 6,000 undergraduates benefit from an innovative curriculum that provides a "hands-on, minds-on" approach to engineering education, complementing classroom instruction with two unique design-and-build facilities and a strong Cooperative Education Program. With more than 50 research centers and numerous laboratories, the college offers its 2,000 graduate students opportunities in advanced fields of study such as biomedical engineering, state-of-the-art microelectronics, and nanotechnology. Virginia Tech, the most comprehensive university in Virginia, is dedicated to quality, innovation, and results to the commonwealth, the nation, and the world.