ACM-W India Celebration of Women in Computing 2019

13 July 2019, IIT Gandhinagar, Gujarat

The ACM-W India Celebration of Women in Computing (AICWIC 2019) was organized by ACM-W India and ACM Ahmedabad Chapter at IIT Gandhinagar on 13 July 2019 under the theme “Soft Computing for Global Development”. The conference focused on the importance of Soft Computing for humanity and the career paths for women in computing. The inaugural ceremony started with a Welcome Address by Prof. Rutvi Shah, Web Chair of ACM Ahmedabad Chapter.

Prof. Rutvi Shah, Assistant Professor, Chimanbhai Institute of Technology and Prof. Heena Timani, ACM-W India Executive Council Chair

This was followed by a Ceremonial Address by Prof. Heena Timani, ACM-W India Executive Council Chair in which she talked about the motto and purpose of ACM-W and how each one of us can contribute. During the Ceremonial Address, Prof. Timani briefed the audience about Association for Computing Machinery being the largest computing education society worldwide that strives unconditionally to raise the bar of students by helping them in terms of career resources, mentoring, workshops, conferences and publications. She focused on the objective of AICWiC to support, motivate and inspire women researchers in India by providing them a platform where they can candidly interact with others and hence the importance of ACM-W Chapters. She also discussed the various events and awards conducted by ACM and ACM-W in India.

The first Keynote address was delivered by Dr. Gargi Das Gupta, Director of IBM Research India and CTO of IBM India and South Asia. She elaborated on how Artificial Intelligence is omnipresent in today’s world and how it can be applied to solve real-world problems, particularly in the spheres of retail and agriculture. She also explained the evolution of AI from narrow to broad to general AI and how IBM is contributing to the advancements in the field.

The second keynote was delivered by Prof. Joycee M Mekie, IIT Gandhinagar, on the topic “Energy Efficient Hardware for AI/ML”. She highlighted the often-ignored hardware aspects of technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning and introduced the performance and energy challenges faced by researchers today. She focused on the tradeoffs between error-resiliency and energy consumption. Other research areas explained by her include Approximation, Energy Efficient Memory Design, Radiation Hardened Designs for Space, etc. The two sessions were very complementary to each other as one highlighted the software aspects of AI, while the other drew the audience’s attention to the hardware aspects.

Dr. Gargi Das Gupta, Director of IBM Research India and CTO of IBM India and South Asia and Prof. Joycee M. Mekie, IIT Gandhinagar

The keynotes were followed by a poster presentation in which various students displayed their research work before the jury in the form of posters.

After a lunch break, the session continued with a panel discussion moderated by Prof. Heena Timani on the theme “Soft Computing for Global Development/Women in Computing”, with expert panelists Prof. Hiteishi Diwanji, Head IT Department, L.D. College of Engineering; Prof. Neeldhara Misra, Assistant Professor CSE, IIT Gandhinagar; Prof. Rutvi Shah, Assistant Professor, Chimanbhai Institute of Technology; and Ms. Gunjan Lal, DevOps Engineer, Adobe India and ACM-W Council Member. The panelists elaborated on their career path and encouraged the girls to take their technical careers further.

Prof. Heena Timani with panelists Prof. Hiteishi Diwanji, Prof. Neeldhara Misra, Prof. Rutvi Shah, and Ms. Gunjan Lal

Prof. iwanji shared her thoughts on Information Technology and Humanity, and also highlighted the pros and cons of teaching in a government setting. Prof. Misra connected with the students using various examples from her own life and explained how she made her career in teaching Computer Science to the bright undergraduate students. Prof. Shah elaborated on her research in Soft Computing and also focused on nonacademic activities in teaching. Ms. Lal gave an overview of issues in education for women in STEM fields and emphasized the different domains in the corporate world in Computing. All the panelists shared how their association with ACM and ACM-W had helped them in their careers.

The session came to an end with a Valedictory Award Ceremony where the winners of the Lady Ada Programming Competition and Poster Presentation were felicitated with prizes by Dr. Chandrashekhar Sahasrabudhe, COO of ACM India and Suji Gopalan, Country Manager of Oracle Academy India.

The Official Vote of Thanks was delivered by Ms. Gunjan Lal who thanked Oracle, TCS and Reliscore for supporting this initiative and the team at IIT Gandhinagar for being such great hosts. In her Concluding Remarks, Prof. Misra expressed her gratitude to the organizing team of AICWiC 2019 and the audience for making the event a huge success.