After attending the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing , I wanted to choose a central message to share: one aspect of the whole experience that would sum everything up. First I thought about how awesome it was to be at a tech conference, learning about the latest research and cool new technologies from the researchers themselves. But then it struck me how exciting it was to be in the beautiful George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston with 12,000 other technical women, and what the success of the Grace Hopper conference says about the ways in which society and culture are changing. And finally, I thought of how fulfilling it was to give back to the community by doing résumé workshops, and to introduce people to the new community board featuring the Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor, the DragonBoard 410c. So when it comes right down to it, I'm not sure I can pick just one thing to share!
Any tech conference showcases cool new stuff. But my favorite presentations were the ones that focused on the Internet of Things. I also enjoyed hearing industry leaders speculating about which tech trends will last (synthetic meat is going to be big, apparently) and what will fade away. There was also a call to action to focus on real problems (such as the serious lack of water in California) rather than building frivolous apps—say, ordering a pizza with an emoji.
We also had the opportunity to introduce some young women to one of Qualcomm Technologies’ contributions to the Internet of Things: the Dragonboard 410c by Arrow Electronics. We came up with the idea for this event back in March after deciding that we could do something MUCH more interesting than another sponsored lunch. We wanted it to be a fun learning experience that gave people skills and tools to explore aspects of engineering they might not learn about otherwise, all while introducing them to a development board that puts the Snapdragon processor in their hands. The “HardWEAR Shindig” as we called it was all about interacting with hardware, and with each other. Each participant got a “QBadge”, a device I invented and pre-programmed with information they provided when they RSVPed (you can see two of them at the top of this page). As they were interacting with each other the Qbadge would light up colored LEDs that would indicate the number of answers they had in common, after that, they used their programming skills to create their own sequences for the LEDs. Not only was it a learning experience for the participants but also for me! In fact, in order to create the Qbadge, I had to learn about and experiment with various technologies and programing sequences to make it work the way we wanted. I also grew as a leader: I learned how to lead several teams of people, bringing together diverse skill-sets to create everything we needed for a successful event, and drove requirements for the overall project. It was a really rewarding and wonderful experience.
Beyond just attending talks, my colleagues and I gave a presentation at the Student Opportunity Lab. We talked about how to format your résumé to help it stand out to recruiters, and how to participate in events like hackathons and conferences (including the Qualcomm Women Collegiate Conference for freshmen and sophomores, and the DECA conference for people of color) to add more interest to a résumé. Our table was so popular that we took over a second table, to allow more people to participate. Giving tangible feedback that has such a direct impact on someone felt so rewarding.
And doing all of this in rooms filled with technical women—well, that part felt totally natural. There's nothing special about female engineers, just like there's nothing special about male engineers. We're all just people doing what we do best: asking questions, identifying problems, and coming up with solutions.
I'm so honored to have been a part of the Grace Hopper Celebration this year, and I'm so excited for all the changes that we're all a part of now.