New ImagineIT: DesignIT Computing Exploration Program Launches

Workshops for high school girls show wide-ranging opportunities in computing field

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Sue A. Weisler

Programs like the ImagineIT: DesignIT workshop and FIRST Lego League are only a few of the campus programs designed to bring together young women in the community with RIT faculty and students in the STEM programs, and encourage them to pursue science and technology careers.

Reasons for the lack of young women enrolled in computer science programs are varied. One such reason: the stereotype that all computer programmers do is sit in front of a computer all day long.

In an effort to dispel that stereotype, faculty at Rochester Institute of Technology will be hosting area high school girls to give them insights into the broad applications of computing opportunities—from engineering and network security applications to graphical interfaces using the latest 3-D technologies.

ImagineIT: DesignIT, a new career exploration program, takes place over two days, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. March 20 and 21 at RIT. All workshops take place in labs located in the Kate Gleason College of Engineering and the Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences.

Workshops will include hands-on activities and demonstrations. One of the featured workshops allows participants to use ALICE, one of the latest in 3-D graphic and animation software programs. Other activities involve learning how computers are used for networking and security applications.

Several of RIT’s female professors and students from the computing and engineering colleges are the workshop presenters. “It is a way for the young women to see role models,” says Dhireesha Kudithipudi, assistant professor of computer engineering. “This is a chance to give girls a different image of computing sciences and the different applications and jobs where they can work.”

Kudithipudi is expecting 25 students from high schools in Hilton, Rush Henrietta, Nazareth Academy and Greece school districts.

The exploration program is the first sponsored by a newly developed campus group Interactive, Inclusive and Connected Computing Community for Women, or I2C3. Organizers of the group are faculty in the Kate Gleason College of Engineering and the Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences, specifically Kudithipudi and Margaret Bailey, professor, mechanical engineering; Stephanie Ludi, associate professor, software engineering and Sumita Mishra, assistant professor, networking, security and systems administration.

The group aims to address the gender gap that exists within computing by providing professional growth opportunities for young women, to promote an environment within RIT that will attract more women to participate in computing and to retain first and second year female college students in computing, says Kudithipudi.


WHAT: ImagineIT: DesignIT career exploration program

WHEN: 9 a.m.-3 p.m. March 20 and 21

WHERE: Kate Gleason College of Engineering and the Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences.