Emily Peed-Brown, Indianapolis, Indiana
Making a difference
As president of the Association of Computing Machinery, Women’s Chapter (AMCW), I helped start an outreach program. We want to eliminate barriers to an education in computing. We received a grant to help us start a Web site where middle school and high school students can access programming and other computing-related tutorials. Our hope is that these tutorials can help students pass a college-level computing test and prepare them for a career in a computing-related field. We also want to make it fun by creating a point system for individuals and schools. It was the support of caring faculty that allowed the outreach program to get off to such a great start. I am incredibly glad that I decided to come to Purdue, because I do not think I would have had the same opportunities elsewhere.
Information technology is computing with a business focus. We are not constructing the computers; we’re working with them in more of a business sense. When we get out in the real world, we understand business practices. In my concentration — information systems — the classes are more programming and applications-based, and there is more of a focus on databases. All of the classes really intertwine together for a better understanding of computing as a whole. There is a lot of flexibility within the major; you can make it fit within any nook or cranny. It’s distinctive.
The material is fun to learn and interesting, but it’s the professors who make it worthwhile. They are passionate about their jobs and supporting their students, extracurricularly and in classes. You become almost like a peer to your professors. Purdue is a big campus, but when you are in your department, you feel cared for. There hasn't been a professor yet who isn't willing to go that extra mile for you, as long as you're willing to work just as hard as they do. The professors really learn your name and who you are as an individual, and it just makes you feel so at home.
We will be kicking off our AMCW group during 2013-14. We want to help our members become more comfortable in a professional setting. We’ll meet with graduate students and critique their presentations, go over resumes and complete different computing projects together, and generally encourage professional development.
Traveling and learning
CIT as a department does a lot for its students. I remember vividly one professor allowed a student to leave his class in order to attend a job fair. I have been to the Grace Hopper Celebration (a woman's technology conference), I have given a five-minute speech at the NCWIT Summit because my professors pushed me to submit an idea for a talk. I originally didn't think my idea would be chosen, but a couple months later I was in beautiful Arizona sharing the problems we in Technology have with access to learning resources.