CS Women attend Grad Cohort workshop

Prepare and practice your elevator talk!

An elevator talk is a three-sentence description of your research/ interests, which addresses the following questions:

1. What is the problem you are solving?
2. Why is this problem important?
3. What is novel about your solution?

Professor Lori Clarke and graduate students Naomi Fox, Pallika Kanani, Divya Krishnan, and Bobby Simidchieva attended the CRA-W Grad Cohort Workshop in Seattle on March 13-14, 2008.  Now in its fifth year, the workshop was created to arm female graduate students with the resources they need to be successful computer science researchers. The workshop also facilitates the development of a support network for women graduate students.

The attendees participated in sessions on topics pertinent to being successful in a computer science graduate program. Allotted free time between sessions gave participants the chance to network and share experiences in their programs. Over 300 graduate students, professors, and researchers from U.S. and Canadian universities and research labs attended the 2008 workshop, which was sponsored by Microsoft and Google.

In the workshop kick-off session, led by Penn State Professor Mary Jane Irwin, every attendee was instructed to prepare an elevator talk (see inset) to be used over and over during the workshop. For an unknown graduate student, having a good elevator talk is vital to getting others excited to discuss her research.

Two UMass Amherst members participated as speakers; Clarke led the session “Advising and Mentoring,” and Fox spoke in the session “Finding Academic Year Funding.” Other sessions included “Time Management,” “Preparing Your PhD Proposal,” and “Having a Career and a Life.”

The conference also included a poster session during which second- and third-year graduate students presented their research. Fox presented her research on “Design of RigDyn: A Software Framework for Rigidity and Motion Analysis,” and Simidchieva presented her work on “Representing Process Variation.”