NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing

As part of an effort to encourage more young women to choose careers in technology, the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) and the Virginia Affiliate Award for Aspirations in Computing program recognized 65 high-school women for their accomplishments and aspirations in computing and technology.  The award event was held at the Bank of America facility in Richmond, Virginia, and featured a welcome by Mr. Victor Branch, Senior Vice President – Bank of America, and a keynote speech by Mr. Michael Karafotis, Global Wholesale Banking, Production Support Executive at Bank of America.  The event was chaired by Ms. Libby G. Bradford, Director of Undergraduate Studies and Student Engagement in Computer Science at Virginia Tech.

The NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing is a program of the National Center for Women & Information Technology, a coalition of over 900 universities, corporations and organizations dedicated to increasing the meaningful participation of women in computing. The NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing was created to acknowledge the computing aspirations of young women, introduce them to leadership opportunities in the field, and generate visibility for women’s participation in computing-related pursuits. Award-winners have been selected for their outstanding aptitude and interest in computing and desire to pursue computing-related studies. The NCWIT Aspirations in Computing program is sponsored nationally by AT&T, Bank of America, Bloomberg and Microsoft with additional support from Google, Intel, Motorola Solutions Foundation and Northrop Grumman.

“It feels so good to be involved in this.  We see real progress happening.  Young women who might have been overlooked or discouraged now actively moving into computing with support and encouragement from people in the field.  But there is more than that.  There is an overall feeling that this is good, this is working.  Then, even more, a feeling that this is awesome!   We are making this happen together–the balance is changing!” said Ms. Jennifer Rupert, Academic & Career Advisor Virginia Tech and Virginia Affiliate committee member.   In the affiliate’s six year history, 239 students have been recognized.

Paul Bui, a teacher at Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, Virginia, received the 2017 Outstanding Educator award from the affiliate.

Virginia Affiliate winners are:

First Name Last Name School
Rebecca Abbott-McCune Blacksburg High
Janna Almokhtar Orange County High School
Navya Annapareddy* Battlefield High School
Brooke Barlow* Mclean High
Bilguunzaya Battogtokh Yorktown High
Sarah Bolstad* Midlothian High School
Katherine Cinnamon* Forest Park High School
Lidya Etissa South Lakes High School
Lydia Fozo* Forest Park High School
Rachel Fulk Rockbridge County High
Sydney Howard* Grassfield High School
Elizabeth Hu* Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology
Laurel Hunter Governor’s School of Science and Technology
Danielle Kaldmaa Falls Church High School
Anika Kumar* South Lakes High School
Kirthi Kumar* Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology
Hannah Lewis Albemarle High School
Kimberly Louie Chancellor High
Tian Low Woodbridge High
Jocelyn Marencik Deep Run High
Eleanor Ozer Galax High School
Samhita Pendyal Deep Run High
Christina Pfab Powhatan High School
Britney Phan Oakton High School
Kara Probasco Washington Lee High
Margaret Richey* Western Albemarle High
Caylor Scales Cumberland High
Riley Schnee Loudoun Valley High School
Marissa Sumathipala Broad Run High
Michelle Wu Princess Anne High


Virginia Affiliate Honorable Mentions are:

First Name Last Name School
Grace Barrett-Johnson Albemarle High School
Madison Crouch Western Albemarle High
Brianna Croye Hidden Valley High
Neha Damaraju* Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology
Ally DeVall Colonial Forge High
ErinGrace Drake Battlefield High School
Heather Eichman Nansemond River High
Salonee Ferrao Hampton Roads Academy
Emily Haggard Loudoun Valley High School
Ankita Khera Forest Park High
Crystal Lee Woodson High
Mengyun Lee Hidden Valley High
Katie Liu New Horizons Gov School
melanie massie Radford High
Caroline McCain Rockbridge County High
Elizabeth Moar Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology
Lisa Moshiro Battlefield High School
Clara Na Briar Woods High
Cora Ormsby Floyd Kellam High
Angela Pastore Albemarle High School
Emma Peck Washington Lee High
Amber Perkins Powhatan High School
Grace Qian Oakton High School
Shravya Shetty Deep Run High
Caroline Spruell Cave Spring High
Destiny Stern Forest Park High School
Aiesha Suarez Del Real Stuart High
Hiwot Temesgen Washington Lee High
Sajni Vederey* Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology
Faith White Richlands High
Carol Yang Albemarle High School (Virginia)


*Also NCWIT National Honorable Mentions

Also recognized at the Virginia Affiliate Ceremony were sixteen NCWIT National Honorable Mentions:

First Name Last Name School
Navya Annapareddy Battlefield High School
Brooke Barlow Mclean High
Sarah Bolstad Midlothian High School
Katherine Cinnamon Forest Park High School
Neha Damaraju Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology
Jessica Edwards St Stephens & St Agnes School
Lydia Fozo Forest Park High School
Kriti Ganotra Rock Ridge High School
Sydney Howard Grassfield High School
Elizabeth Hu Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology
Anika Kumar South Lakes High School
Kirthi Kumar Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology
Rachel Naidich Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology
Hojung Park Albemarle High School
Margaret Richey Western Albemarle High
Sajni Vederey Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology


The NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing offers both national and local affiliate competitions to generate support and visibility for women’s participation in communities nationwide. The National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) works to correct the imbalance of gender in technology and computing because gender diversity positively correlates with a larger workforce, better innovation, and increased business performance.

The “Aspirations in Computing Awards” event and the gifts received by the winners this year were funded by Bank of America, Eastman Chemical, The Washington Post and Virginia Tech.  Additional support was provided by General Motors, George Mason, Google IBM, and the University of Richmond.  Winners receive prizes from multiple companies and two trophies: one for the winner and one to be displayed at her high school.

For more information on the Aspirations program please visit here.


Back row (l. to r.) Amber Perkins, Jessica Edwards, Hojung Park, Hannah Lewis, Janna Almokhtar, Cora Ormsby, Christina Pfab, Margaret Richey, Lisa Moshiro, Salonee Ferrao, Shravya Shetty, Danielle Kaldmaa, Anika Kumar, Katherine Cinnamon, Lydia Fozo
Middle row (l. to r.) Riley Schnee, Emily Haggard, Aiesha Suarez Del Real, Laurel Hunter, Caylor Scales, Mengyun Lee, Angela Pastore, Grace Barrett-Johnson, Kriti Ganotra, Sydney Howard, Heather Eichmann, Caroline McCain, Tian Low, Rachel Fulk, Rebecca Abbott-McCune, Marissa Sumathipala
Front row (l. to r.) Samhita Pendyal, Britney Phan, Crystal Lee, Ally DeVall, Jocelyn Marencik, Kirthi Kumar, Navya Annapareddy, Neha Damaraju, Sarah Bolstad

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Virginia Tech Team Victorious at ACM-ICPC Regionals

For the fourth straight year a team from Virginia Tech has qualified for the prestigious ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC) World Finals.  This year’s Mid-Atlantic regional contest, held on November 5, included 177 teams from over 100 schools.   Under the leadership of Dr. Godmar Back, ten Virginia Tech three-person teams participated in the regional contest this year.  The team consisting of CS majors Peter Steele, Chris Wu, and Andriy Katkov finished first.  They will be representing Virginia Tech at the 41st World Finals, to be held this coming May in Rapid City, SD.

The performance of all the Virginia Tech teams was outstanding, with four teams finishing in the top 14, and eight in the top 30.  According to Dr. Back, “I need to acknowledge the enthusiasm and hard work of all involved. This year, I had a group of 60-70 dedicated students that attended the Saturday practices. We did five full (five hour) practices on Saturdays during October and September, plus a qualification contest the week before, plus an additional six virtual contests on Wednesdays and Saturdays. I would also like to thank our sponsors, Eastman Chemical, stack@cs, and the CSRC!”

Congratulations to all the ICPC participants:

“PriorityQueues for President” – Peter Steele, Chris Wu, Andriy Katkov

“HashSets for President” – Jeff Robertson, Christy Coghlan, Nathan Lahn

“LinkedLists for President” – Andy Sin, Shengzhe Xu, Geson Chong

“TreeSets for President” – Daniel Moyer, Jamie Simon, Ariana Herbst

“ArrayDeques for President” – Eric Williamson, Lance Chao, Harrison Fang

“Hashtables for President” – Stu Harvey, Daniel Amick, Drew Maczugowski

“BitSets for President” – Luke Wolff, Andrew Lahann, Swaraj Dhumne

“TreeMaps for President” – Bryce Humphrey, Ryan Berft, Alexander Glasson

“ArrayLists for President” – Raju Nadimpalli, JooYoung Whang, Yevhen Pylypenko

“HashMaps for President” – Hunter Morris, Jameson Dyer, Bright Zheng


Godmar Back

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Successful corporate partnerships provide hands on learning experiences for CS students

Professor Eli Tilevich provided a great opportunity for students in his CS 4704 capstone course this fall.  Dr. Tilevich partnered with The MITRE Corporation, a member company of the department’s Computer Science Resources Consortium (CSRC) program.  The MITRE Corporation sponsored the course this fall and created hands-on learning experiences for students to work with real clients.  The MITRE Corporation managers met and one-on-one with students during the semester.  The results of the students’ hard work were displayed to company representatives on December 14.

Alexander DeRieux, Christie Goddard, Andrew Heatwole, David Pickle, Will Schrag presented on ERIS (Emergency Responder Information System)

Alex Martin, Anthony DiMarco, Riley Babcock, Victor Weiss presented onSkyBook (Aircraft Specification Aggregator)

Arman Bahraini, Zhizheng Chen, Taiwen Jin, Steffen Moseley, Sungha Song presented on GroupSafe (Group Location Safety System)

A summary of each team’s work is below:

ERIS (Emergency Responder Information System)

In times of crisis, effective communication and informed decision making can mean the difference between life and death. Modern-day first responder communication systems rely heavily on dispatch to control the flow of information among units. While this system has its merits, data flow to on the ground personnel is somewhat restricted to the speed that dispatch can process and disseminate information. In order to decrease response time, dispatch filters out much of the information they receive; some of which could actually be useful to responders. This tradeoff can lead to dangerous situations for firemen, police officers, and EMTs. ERIS aims to ease communication and data collection by creating a system to provide fast and detailed information sharing among first responders. ERIS application development was guided by the standard Android development paradigm, and utilized various APIs and SDKs to communicate with peripheral devices and remote services. The ERIS application provides users (responders) with relevant location and status information for incidents and other responders, and interacts with mobile phones and wearable computing devices (Recon Jet glasses, Motorola smartwatches, and Myo armbands) to facilitate collection and display of information.


SkyBook (Aircraft Specification Aggregator)

This project involves the aggregating, storing, and displaying of data on various types of commercial aircraft. The primary goal is to collect this data from multiple sources and make it accessible by two means: an intuitive web application and a RESTful API endpoint. This has been accomplished by utilizing a Python web-scraping library called Beautiful Soup to gather data from official manufacturer websites (Boeing, Airbus, etc) in addition to third-party sources like Aircraft Bluebook and storing that data in a SQLite database. A flexible Web API was created with use of the Django REST framework. Through making aircraft data available via these two highly useful mediums, this project resulted in a useful tool for the originally targeted users in addition to opening the door for a diverse variety of unplanned potential use cases.



GroupSafe (Group Location Safety System)

GroupSafe is an application designed to provide connectivity between all the members in a group at all times in order to ensure everyone’s safety. The goal of the application is to leverage current technologies available in modern smartphones to share and display locations on a map in real time. Users are able to create groups with unique names and passwords. Each group member shares his or her location and can chat with other members since websockets are utilized to provide a low overhead location and messaging system. In addition, the creator/host of the group can set up a radius which he/she expects everyone to be within at all time. If any member of the group is to wander past the radius set by the host, the application will send an alert to everyone in the group so they can react accordingly. For easy direct communication the app provides click to call or text. Google Maps is embedded in the app to show user locations, so in the event where a member does not respond to group chat, call, or text, everyone in the group will still be able to find the member by looking at the map. While the application was developed with college students and young adults as the primary clients in mind, other user bases may also find the app useful.




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VT Computer Science Research Featured at KDD 2016

Computer Science Department faculty and students presented six research papers and one tutorial at the 22nd ACM Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining (KDD 2016), held in August in San Francisco.  KDD is the premier annual international conference on knowledge discovery and data mining.  Virginia Tech was among the top-10 represented university and industry groups at KDD. In addition the most viewed video and the second most downloaded papers at KDD were written by Virginia Tech CS PhD students and faculty.

Conference URL:

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Tapia 2016 through the eyes of 11 Hokies

From September 14th -17th, 9 CS students and 2 CS faculty (Cal Ribbens, Barbara Ryder) journeyed to Austin, Texas to participate in the 2016 ACM Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing.  Of the approximately 1000 attendees, 536 were students, 135 were faculty and 260 were representatives from industry/government.  This was the 10th Tapia Conference whose theme, Diversity Matters, was reflected in keynote speeches, professional development programs, a student research poster session, a career fair, and “birds-of-a-feather” meetings on practical approaches to supporting diversity and inclusion.

Our two goals in attending Tapia were to: (i) expose CS@VT African-American and Latino/a graduate and undergraduate students to a professional computing conference in which they would be in the majority, and (ii) actively recruit minority graduate students for our MS/Ph.D. programs and for possible future faculty positions.

Dr. Ryder reported, “It was a thrill to personally meet and talk to so many African-American and Latino/a colleagues in computing, including several of our CS@VT alumni – Dr. Cheryl Seals (Auburn), Dr. Jeremy Barksdale (Microsoft), Dr. Kevin Buffardi (Cal State, Chico) and CS@VT Distinguished Alumna Dr. Jamika Burge.”  Dr. Ribbens stated: “The Tapia conference is a great opportunity for our students to meet peers and hear from incredible role models, and for faculty to share ideas and enthusiasm with other schools who are also committed to improving diversity in CS.”  The excitement of our student participants is expressed in their comments:

  • Sean Crenshaw: “Tapia gave me the opportunity to network with the best in the tech industry who are transforming current standards so that we, the next generation of minorities, can follow in their footsteps.”
  • Jazmine Zurita: “The conference was the perfect way to network with recruiters, more so than we can in standard career fairs.”
  • Gustavo Arango Argoty: “The most interesting aspect of the conference was to see how big companies develop computing applications to understand society and hence its diversity.”
  • Vanessa Cedeno: “Being able to meet other people with the passion of promoting and including diversity in Computer Science was exciting and inspiring.”
  • Souleymane Dia: “It’s been one of the best opportunity for me to directly interact with industry leaders and connect with them for future opportunities.”
  • Moeti Masiane : “The conference was a wonderful venue for networking, placing players from academia and industry in a fun and open environment.”

CS students Moeti Masiane, Tianna Woodson, Kelvin Aviles, and Teresa Lin also attended.  This was a great experience.  It continues a strong tradition of CS@VT participation in the Tapia conferences (we have been Gold Supporters of Tapia for many years).  We hope to offer the opportunity to attend to more of our students and faculty in future years.  To that end, alumni and friends of CS@VT can donate to the department’s Barbara Ryder Diversity in Computing Fund by sending a check to the VT Foundation account #861127.



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ICPC Programming Team Competes at World Finals

Once again, May found the Virginia Tech ACM ICPC Programming Team traveling across the globe to compete in the ICPC World Finals.  This year the competition was held in Phuket, Thailand, and included 128 teams, selected from a record 2,736 participating universities during fall regional contests.  The 2016 Virginia Tech team consisted of CS majors Dustin Pho, Peter Steele, and Chris Wu, with Dr. Godmar Back as their coach.

According to Back, “The competition involved 13 problems, of which the top three teams (St. Petersburg State, Shanghai Jiao Tong, and Harvard) solved 11, 11, and 10, respectively. The Virginia Tech team solved four problems, which ranked it 74th, an improvement over the last two years where we finished 92nd. The team is particularly proud of finishing 9th among the 25 teams from North America, which is our best showing since at least 2005.  The only North American teams finishing ahead of VT were Harvard, MIT, Waterloo, UCF, Berkeley, Cornell, Stanford, and Rice.”

Follow the ICPC Programming Team on Twitter Here.


ICPC pic 2016

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AAUW Wytheville branch sponsored STEM Saturday Workshop

The AAUW Wytheville branch sponsored a STEM Saturday Workshop for middle school girls on Saturday, November 7, 2015 at Wytheville Community College. Five members of Virginia Tech’s Association for Women in Computing (AWC) student group participated. Marina Kiseleva, Michelle Becerra, Vanessa Cedeno, Christy Coghlan and Abigail Bartolome led two workshops during the day. The first workshop, entitled “Design Your Own Story & Watch It Go!”, taught the participants how to create a movie or a game. The second workshop, entitled “Algorithms — how to instruct a computer to do things?”, allowed participants to learn how to describe a problem and solve it as a computer would.


From L to R: Abigail Bartolome, Vanessa Cedeno, Christy Coghlan, Marina Kiseleva, Michelle Becerra and Barbara Ryder.
From L to R:
Abigail Bartolome, Vanessa Cedeno, Christy Coghlan, Marina Kiseleva, Michelle Becerra and Barbara Ryder.


STEM Saturday Workshop pic 1 STEM Saturday Workshop pic 2 STEM Saturday Workshop pic 3 STEM Saturday Workshop pic 4 STEM Saturday Workshop pic 6 STEM Saturday Workshop pic 7

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Southeast Women in Computing Conference (SEWIC)

Dr. Barbara G. Ryder and 18 CS@VT undergraduate and graduate students attended the Southeast Women in Computing Conference (SEWIC) in Atlanta, Georgia November 13-15.  Congratulations to Sorour Ekhtiari Amir who won first place in the Graduate Research Poster category.  Her poster is entitled “DASSA: Automatic Segmentation of General Time-Stamped Data Sequences “.  Sorour along with Liangzhe Chen and B. Aditya Prakash co-authored the poster.  For more information about the conference, please visit SEWIC.



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Virginia Tech ACM ICPC World Finals Team Update

The Virginia Tech ACM ICPC Programming Team competed in the 39th ICPC World Finals in Morocco on May 16 to 21, 2015. The field of competition was highly selective. A total of 128 teams of three were chosen (from a field of 38,160 contestants from 2,534 universities in 101 countries on six continents) to compete for the chance to win medals and become the world champion. The Virginia Tech team consisted of Scott Pruett (computer science), Nick Sharp (computer science), and Aziz Yusupov (computer science and business economics), with Dr. Godmar Back (computer science) as their coach.

The competition took place over two days and consisted of 13 challenging problems posed to teams. For the first time in the history of the competition, the winning team from St. Petersburg State University of Information Technologies, Mechanics, and Optics (ITMO) managed to solve all of the problems. The top 12 teams, that solved 9 or more problems, received medals. The scoreboard can be viewed here.

The Virginia Tech team solved 4 problems and placed 92 out of 128 teams.  The new season will start soon and the team will face strong opponents in the region, including the University of Virginia who is yearning for a chance to regain the spot Virginia Tech took from them last year!

According to their website, the ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC) is the premier global programming competition conducted by and for the world’s universities. The competition operates under the auspices of ACM, is sponsored by IBM, and is headquartered at Baylor University. For nearly four decades, the ICPC has grown to be a game-changing global competitive educational program that has raised aspirations and performance of generations of the world’s problem solvers in the computing sciences and engineering.

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