Georgia Tech Finds Its ‘Roots of Innovation’ at Tapia 2018

September 27, 2018
Communications Officer

More than 1,400 members of the computing community came together last week in Orlando, Florida at the ACM Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing. Georgia Tech had a strong representation with a contingency of more than 45 Yellow Jackets, including 22 undergraduate students, five Ph.D. students and 10 Online Master of Science in Computer Science (OMSCS) students.

The conference brings together students, faculty, researchers, and professionals from all backgrounds and ethnicities in computing to promote and celebrate diversity in computing. Tapia is sponsored by the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) and presented by CMD-IT. The 2018 conference theme was “Diversity: Roots of Innovation.”

Sessions during the three-day event ranged from interactive activities addressing equity in computing to panels discussing impostor syndrome, bias in machine learning, and much more.

Professor Ayanna HowardSchool of Interactive Computing chair, participated in the welcome panel and hosted a world-café style chat during one of the interactive sessions. Howard was also recognized as the recipient of the Richard A. Tapia Achievement Award for Scientific Scholarship, Civic Science and Diversifying Computing during the conference.

Angelik Laboy, a second-year computer science major said, “I really enjoyed my time at Tapia because it was such a great opportunity to network not only for my career, but with people from other schools and organizations. The sessions were extremely interesting and enlightening, and as someone from Puerto Rico, it was amazing to connect with other Hispanics in computing.”

Georgia Tech’s Office of Outreach, Enrollment and Community (OEC) hosted a College of Computing information booth for prospective graduate students. 

“It’s so important to give students the opportunity to build community not only with fellow Georgia Tech students but also with students from around the world. It’s a great feeling to see them forge new friendships with students who have encountered similar struggles and know that they are not alone in their pursuit of a computer science degree,” said Jennifer Whitlow, Director of Computing Enrollment and Alumni Engagement.

Raul Viera-Mercado, a current OMSCS student, was at Tapia representing his company at the event’s career fair. For him, Tapia was also an opportunity to meet many of his classmates in person for the first time.

“It was cool to finally put a face with a name to several people I have been in the same class with online. Meeting them helped me feel closer to the OMS CS community and I’m looking forward to more opportunities to connect with them online and in future meet-ups,” said Viera-Mercado.

Georgia Tech’s College of Computing, offering more than 18 bachelor’s and graduate degrees, is dedicated to celebrating diversity and promoting inclusion of its students. Opportunities like Tapia encourage students to better understand the computing landscape and help them prepare for careers in related technical fields.