BLACKSBURG, Va., April 24, 2013 – The Virginia/Washington, D.C., affiliate of the National Center for Women in IT held its second annual Award for Aspirations in Computing ceremony March 23 at the Virginia Tech Research Center -- Arlington, honoring a high school teacher and 14 high school students for their efforts to, respectively, teach and learn computer science.
The affiliate includes founding members George Mason University, Virginia Tech, and the University of Virginia, as well as new members James Madison University, Norfolk State University, University of Richmond, Virginia State University, and the College William & Mary.
Organizing the event were Virginia Tech’s Libby Bradford, director of external relations and undergraduate studies in the Department of Computer Science, and computer science professor and department head Barbara Ryder.
Sharon McPherson of Stafford, Va., a teacher at Colonial Forge High School, received the 2013 Outstanding Educator award from the affiliate.
Student winners were:
Student runners-up were:
The Fairfax event was funded with $2,000 in seed money from the national organization, with additional support and gifts for the winners provided by Genworth Financial, Google Inc., IBM, and Northrop Grumman Corp. Winners received prizes from multiple companies, as well as gift cards from Amazon and Best Buy. Each winner received two trophies: one for the winner and one to be displayed at her high school. At the Aspirations in Computing ceremony, the honorees heard from Jan Cuny, program officer for the National Science Foundation.
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 aptitude, leadership ability, academic history, and plans for post-secondary education.
On the national level, the Award for Aspirations in Computing is part of the center’s talent development program that encourages young women to succeed in a field where they are underrepresented. It provides young women with visibility, community, leadership opportunities, support, research experiences, scholarships, and internships. Two national winners are from Virginia and each plans to attend Virginia Tech in fall 2013, said Bradford. They are Allison Collier of Massaponax High School in Fredericksburg and Kara Vaillancourt of Loudon Valley High School in Hamilton.
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 Virginia Tech’s computer science department, said Ryder. Virginia Tech is the only university in Virginia to offer this type of scholarship.
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.