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NMSU's Young Women in Computing to learn from industry leaders at conference

Her name is not as well known as Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, but if not for her work and others like her, we might not have Apple or Microsoft. Admiral Grace Murray Hopper was a computer science pioneer -- one of the country's first software engineers back in the 1940s. This year nine New Mexico State University students will attend the world's largest gathering of women in computing, a conference named for Hopper.

A group from NMSU's Young Women in Computing organization will travel to Baltimore for the opportunity to learn from industry leaders while gaining valuable networking skills. The undergraduates, who are students in the College of Arts and Sciences, will attend the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Conference Oct. 3-6.

"This event is such an incredible opportunity for all women in computing, but especially for young women in computing who are laying the foundations for their futures," said Rebecca Galves, program coordinator for NMSU's Young Women in Computing program. "By participating in this wonderful celebration, NMSU students are exposed to so many outstanding professional women, industry representatives, fellow undergraduates, and others, and make lifelong connections in their field of choice."

Traveling to Maryland are Janie Chen, a junior and computer information systems major; Jen Dana, a criminal justice major, who is minoring in computer science; Stephanie Marquez, a computer information systems junior; Samantha McGuinn, a freshman studying computer science; Noor Muhyi, a freshman studying electrical and computer engineering; Tasha Nesiba, a junior studying computer science; Nicole Ray, a senior majoring in computer science; Alyssa Soliz, a computer science major; and Elizabeth Wright, a senior majoring in computer science.

"We have started sending students (women) to this conference each year as it has been very effective in creating motivation toward studying computing, showing the number of career options and opportunities," said Enrico Pontelli, computer science professor and department head at NMSU. "The conference has also enabled students to link with remote mentors who have provided feedback and advice over an extended period of time."

Their trip is made possible through a grant from the National Science Foundation, scholarships from the Anita Borg Institute, the YWiC program in the Department of Computer Science and the College of Arts and Sciences.

The YWiC program at NMSU began in 2006 as part of the National Science Foundation's Broadening Participation in Computing Initiative. In an effort to provide further opportunities for area students, the university will host the 2012 Regional Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing for New Mexico, Nov. 8-9. For more information visit http://www.nmcwic.org/.

For more information about the Baltimore conference visit the GHC website at http://gracehopper.org/2012/. For more information about NMSU's YWiC program visit http://www.cs.nmsu.edu/ywic/.