2018 ACM Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing Conference

Shiri Azenkote

The 2018 ACM Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing Conference, presented by the Center for Minorities and People with Disabilities in IT (CMD-IT),  was held September 19-22 in Orlando Florida. Diversity: Roots of Innovation was this year’s conference theme. The 2018 Tapia theme reminds us to celebrate the historical role of diversity with respect to STEM innovation, and declare it as a standard essential set of roots for computing innovation in the future. Conquering computing challenges going forward–while ensuring benefits across all global citizens–whether it is artificial intelligence, blockchain, cybersecurity, or a range of other subjects, requires the resources, talent, and experiences from a diverse collective. Just as we have embraced risk-taking, perseverance, and creativity as cornerstones of innovation, organizations and society must treat diversity with the same reverence. This should be reflected in leadership, strategies, and policies charging forward.

Tapia 2018 broke attendance records with 1431 registered attendees, an increase of 20% over 2017.  Of attendees, 58% were undergraduate and graduate students.    Tapia 2018 featured talks by academic,  national labs and industry leaders. The conference featured over 50 panels, workshops, Birds of a Feather sessions and invited panels.    Featured talks included:

Welcome Reception & Fireside Chat: Writing the Hitchhiker’s Guide to Autonomous Systems.  The panel provided insights into important concerns that have arisen with the proliferation of autonomous systems including impacts on employment, personal privacy, auditing automated decisions, managing systems and what research, investments and policies are needed.  The Fireside Chat panelists included Seraphin B. Calo, Principal Staff Member, IBM Research; Ayanna Howard, Linda J. and Mark C. Smith Professor and Chair of the School of Interactive Computing, Georgia Tech; Jeff Ramos, General Manager, The Microsoft Garage, and Hakim Weatherspoon, Associate Professor, Cornell University.

Ron Perez

The plenary speakers included Shiri Azenkot, Assistant Professor of Information Science, Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute, Cornell University, who spoke on Changing the Way We See Things:  Designing Technology for People with Low Vision. Ronald Perez, Intel Fellow & Technical Lead, Data Center Group at Intel Corporation, spoke about Confidential Computing: Beyond Protection of Data at Rest and Data in Motion.  Moshe Y. Vardi, George Distinguished Service Professor in Computational Engineering & Director, Ken Kennedy Institute for Information Technology at Rice University, gave the Ken Kennedy Distinguished Lecture on Humans, Machines, and Work: The Future is Now.

Tapia 2018 also featured a career fair with over 114 supporting organizations including leading academic institutions, technology companies and government labs.  Platinum supporters included  AnitaB.org, CalTech, Carnegie Mellon University, Cornell Computing and Information Science, Georgia Tech College of Computing, IAAMCS (I AM CS), LinkedIn, Microsoft, MIT Lincoln Laboratory, Mozilla, NC State University, Rice University, Stanford University, Two Sigma, UC Berkeley and University of Michigan and our   Platinum Government Participant was the National Science Foundation.

Photo of Panelists for the Fireside Chat Ayanna, Seraphin, Valerie Taylor (moderator), Jeff, Hakim

Tapia 2018 closed with its Gala which featured banquet speaker  Dr. Shirley Malcom, Head of Education and Human Resources Programs at AAAS, who spoke about the AAAS SEA Change program.  Prizes were bestowed to the winners of the Tapia Poster competition and the ACM Student Research Competition. The Richard A. Tapia Achievement Award was given to  Dr. Ayanna Howard, the Linda J. and Mark C. Smith Professor and Chair of the School of Interactive Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

The conference concluded with the announcement of the 2019 Tapia Conference location being San Diego California, September 18-21, 2019.