Wednesday, March 8, 2017

What Does An Engineer Look Like?

Harvard Wecode Conference 2017

Women in Tech

Harvard's WeCode conference is an (unofficial) extension from the Grace Hopper Celebration for Women in Computing. It's a 500-person event for women in computer science and engineering. This was my 3rd year attending the conference and I'm so grateful for the experiences I gain every year. There are cool techy workshops at WeCode, special professional guest, and networking for days!

umass dartmouth, swe, nsbe, tech blogger, fashion blogger, lifestyle blogger
Head of Capital One's Diversity team (Julie Elberfield) alongside me (Semirah - far right) and 3 other women engineers

Harvard dorm Cambridge View
One of my top favorite aspects about WeCode is that every year I stay at a Harvard dorm with a Harvard student. I'm still friends with my host from 2 years ago! Staying on the Harvard University campus allows my friends and I to really immerse ourselves in authentic Harvard academia and social experiences.



A big topic at WeCode (and many other tech conferences) was Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence. If you have ever interacted with an Amazon Echo speaker then you have already dabbled in the world of artificial intelligence. Companies like Microsoft, Google, and various start-ups are working to bring VR and AI to mainstream consumers. Virtual Reality is already available to the masses via Play Station, Oculus Rift, Google, and so many more.


"Anything you design has bias in it" the reason we need women engineers because men unintentionally design with bias

"Work in a place that will allow you to make mistakes and supports you" 

Two Sigma did their infamous "Blinky Lab" workshop where participants work on a quick Arduino activity.  

Two Sigma gives participants an electrical kit with wires, usb cords, LED lights, and alligator clips. They have computers all set up with their software and the necessary libraries(technical term for a virtual location that stores specific data) downloaded. Once a participant attends the workshop, all we need to do is adjust the code and set up the hardware.

Once the hardware is all set up and the code is fixed, the magic happens! Essentially, we get the LED lights to blink different colors and run at various patterns.

BONUS: Two Sigma let's us keep the LED kits to try the experiment at home or share with younger siblings. I can't wait to show my younger brothers this cool (and wicked easy) engineering activity.

"Coding should be our new liberal arts" - Latanya Sweeney
I've attended the WeCode conferences 3 times and each year I work with the Harvard WeCode team as a Campus Ambassador. I try to grow from my WeCode experiences every year so, this year I made my experience centered around intentional personal growth. I usually try to attend every single event and workshop but this year I tried the opposite approach.

I had long and meaningful conversations with a few recruiters, fellow women engineers, and collegiates. This allowed me to build stronger connections, as opposed to quick resume handouts and introductions.


"You should know how to make something using technology"
While at WeCode, I was honored to be invited to a networking dinner with Square. The dinner was a beautiful roundtable of women engineers and professionals having intellectual conversations over sangria and tapas.

Networking dinners are the hidden gem of professional events. This is when the ties are loosened, the blazers come off, and the entertaining industry stories are shared. However, you still must keep a professional demeanor so watch your alcohol intake and have a good time! 

We love the NERD shirt!

Grammarly yours, Semirah D

WeCode 2016 (Dinner with Goldman Sachs as a Sophomore): https://soundofcharm.blogspot.com/2016/03/women-engineer-in-training-wecode.html

WeCode 2015 (Harvard Hackathon as a Freshman): https://soundofcharm.blogspot.com/2015/02/a-women-engineer-in-training-wecode.html


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