Louisiana Tech to host Google workshop for undergraduates

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The Louisiana Tech University College of Engineering and Science will host its second annual CREWE (Cyber Research for Empowering Women Experimenters) workshop Feb. 23 – 25, and applications are still open for interested students.

Students engage in the 2019 CREWE workshop.The Google-sponsored workshop will be held in University Hall on Louisiana Tech’s Ruston campus.

The annual workshop, which features innovative topics in computing, including cyber security, internet of things and cloud computing, is open to undergraduate students enrolled in computer science, cyber engineering, computer information systems and related disciplines at any Louisiana university.

Last year, the workshop provided forty undergraduate students, including 34 women, from universities throughout the region with the opportunity to network while performing cyber experiments.

Attendees watched presentations by mentors from Louisiana Tech, Bossier Parish Community College, Grambling State University, Northwestern State University and the University of Louisiana – Monroe. The students learned about getting admitted to graduate programs, finding a research advisor and earning research fellowships. They also heard from mentors on computing topics like smart cities, machine learning, ethics in information systems, cyber security, cloud computing and risk analysis. They then worked in teams with the mentors to develop their own research plans. The workshop culminated in each of the teams presenting their research plans to the larger group. The 2020 workshop will follow a similar format.

“As a student wanting to go to graduate school but who is clueless as to what discipline I want to major in during graduate school, the CREWE workshop gave me meaningful insight into the many areas possible in the world of computing,” Alyse Jones, junior electrical engineering student at Louisiana Tech said. “I got a feel for what I did or didn’t like, despite the brief exposure to each topic.”

Mentors also left the workshop with a better understanding of the roles of women in computing fields.

“The most important lesson I learned was to be aware of the culture prejudices affiliated with the computing disciplines,” Dr. Ben Drozdenko, assistant professor of cyber engineering at Louisiana Tech, principle investigator of the Google grant and one of the leads in organizing the workshop, said. “To build a sense of belonging among women in computing disciplines, I should not assume that all computing students like fantasy or science fiction, or picture Bill Gates as a computing expert; instead, I should enable an environment where students of any gender and from various backgrounds can feel welcome and at ease.”

“Women are under-represented in computer science and cybersecurity,” Dr. Lorraine Jacques, assistant professor of computer science and curriculum instruction and leadership at Tech, added. “Especially in careers that require a graduate degree. We need our voices included at the decision-making and research levels so we can make an impact in our communities. This workshop will show undergraduates not only what’s possible, but how they as individuals belong in cyber research and leadership.”

The CREWE workshop is funded by 1 of only 15 Google exploreCSR: Google Grant for Undergrad CS Research Focused Workshops for Women grants awarded across the nation.

Accepted students will receive accommodations for the duration of the workshop, free daily lunches, bus transit between the hotel and workshop venue, and a certificate of completion.

Applications are due by Feb. 8.

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