The BCSWomen Lovelace Colloquium poster contest

This is a guest blog from Hannah Dee, lecturer in computer science at Aberystwyth University and BCSWomen deputy chair.


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Every year BCSWomen hold an event aimed at women students of computing: the Lovelace Colloquium. The aim of this event is to give women students – many of whom are used to being “the only girl in the class” – an opportunity to network with each other, to ask questions about women in tech careers, and also to see a range of talks by women who are further on in the career pipeline.  The 2014 BCSWomen Lovelace Colloquium will be in Reading, on April 16th.

As part of the day we have a poster contest for the students who come along. Each entrant brings their poster with them, and in two shifts (1st and 2nd year students in one shift, and masters/final year students in the other) we put up the posters. Contest entrants have to stand by their posters, whilst the other attendees stroll around and talk to them.


SO, here are 8 reasons for women students to enter the poster contest at the BCSWomen Lovelace Colloquium


1. You might win some money – this year, the “Google Excellence Award for Best First Year” poster prize is £500; for the 2nd year/industrial year prize we’ve got £300 first place and £200 second (sponsored by Airbus Group); for final year prize there’s £300 first place and £200 second place (sponsored by EMC). MSc prize is unconfirmed at the moment, but we expect it will be £200.  We also have a people’s choice prize, which is voted for by the attendees, and is £150 (sponsored by Interface3). 


2. It looks good on your CV – you will have shown that you’re the kind of student who’s willing to spend effort and time in the holidays to attend computing related events; and you’ll get to put “Poster Contest Finalist” on your CV whether you win or not.


3. You get to talk to other people about your own work – You can write your poster on any computing topic you like. Passionate about bitcoins? In-app purchases get your goat? Entranced by the idea of AI? Think responsive web design is over-rated? Built your own robot? Pretty much any computing topic you like is fair game for a poster, and you get to discuss that with people from all over the UK – other students, poster judges, speakers, employers…


4. You’ll probably get your travel costs to the colloquium refunded – Depending upon where our entrants come from we’ll be refunding the top 30-40 poster contest entrants all of their travel costs, so it’s effectively free. We can’t say for sure how many bursaries we can offer at the moment, as we’re still raising sponsorship (companies! talk to me if you’d like to sponsor us). We also can’t be sure until we get the entrants in – as people coming from Aberdeen cost us more than people coming from down the road in Oxford. So what we do is we rank the poster abstracts, and fund the top ones until we run out of money. Most years, we fund about 40 people’s travel, including overnight stay(s) if necessary. Indeed, if you’re based in Northern Ireland, and you do a good abstract, we’ll pay for your flights as well as overnights.


5. To enter, you only need to write 250 words – on a topic that interests you. Any topic. (See 3 above)


6. You get to come to the BCSWomen Lovelace Colloquium – and see the speakers, join in the panel debates, eat the free lunch, socialise with employers… OK this is a bit of a cheat as you could just come along anyway (we’ll open up registration for the remaining places once the poster contest entrants have been chosen). But poster contest people get priority places.


7. You might walk away with a job – not only does the Colloquium look good on the CV, but it might even get you chatting with an employer on the day. We have recruiters from several of our sponsoring companies coming along to the day, and talent spotting – this includes Google.


8. You’ll build your professional network – the people you meet at events like the Lovelace will be the people you might meet at work, or at local BCS meetings, or at conferences. And a network of like minded professionals who will push jobs your way and let you know about openings you might be interested in is a central part of a successful computing career.


SO if you’re a woman, studying computer science or any related subject (information systems, information technology, cognitive science, electronic engineering, AI …) give it a go and write an abstract. The deadline for abstract submisison is 28 Feb, and the BCSWomen Lovelace Colloquium itself is on April 16th. Find out more and submit your abstracts here:

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