Tuesday 5 April 2016

Lovelace Colloquium 2016

This year's Lovelace Colloquium was held at Sheffield Hallam University, last week (March 31st). Sheffield Hallam proved to be a great venue. It's convenient for most people in the UK to get to, with a smart building right by the train station, providing a large poster-exhibiting hall, a modern lecture theatre and a cafeteria, all next to each other.

Every year the Lovelace is an inspiring event. I've now been (and blogged) in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 and it gets bigger and better each year. I'm particularly impressed by the first year undergraduates who are up there presenting posters alongside everyone else, talking to employers and thinking about their future careers.

I didn't get to attend many of the talks this year because I spent more time on the desk and doing organisational jobs (and fixing my posters-numbering error, oops!). But there were some really strong posters covering a wide range of computer science topics, including several with live Arduino demos. The end of the day panel session featured questions and advice on where the field is going in the future, the pros and cos of a career in industry vs academia, the challenges of running your own business and questions about recruitment.

This year I was also impressed to chat to many interesting people during the evening social, for example Claire and Emily from Relish Learning. After graduating from uni they worked for others until deciding one day that they could do it themselves. They set up their own business in Sheffield, and now provide digital e-learning, for a wide range of topics. They described how they've been recently training people in the Army on how to change the wheel on a tank (imagine animations of the components required, and the order in which to remove parts, etc). They are now keen to help others to succeed, to encourage them to believe that they can and to talk to others about how they did it.

If you are not recommending this event to your women undergrads in computer science, then they are missing out. Poster presenters get expenses refunded and may come away with a prize, thanks to all the sponsors. Employers are keen to meet them, so they will also come away with contacts to help them apply for a job or placement. The photos of the event give a great impression of what it's really like if anyone needs any further reassurance.

Other summaries of the day:

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