Barbara Ericson Wins Anita Borg 'Systers Pass-It-On' Grant for Hispanic Outreach Initiative

October 30, 2007

A project to boost outreach to Hispanic women, authored by College of Computing Instructor and Director of Computer Science Outreach Barbara Ericson, was recently awarded a $500 Systers Pass-It-On Grant from the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology. The project, titled "Hispanic Outreach Initiative with Georgia Tech and the Girl Scouts," was one of six winners presented at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing held in Orlando, Florida on October 18, 2007.

Georgia Tech computing students have already been introducing girl scouts to computing with help from a National Science Foundation grant and an Atlanta Women’s Foundation grant, but Ericson's project seeks to increase the outreach potential for Hispanic girls.

According to Ericson's project, the Hispanic community often needs help with transportation, participant fees, and meals — things the current grants do not provide for.

The outreach program consists of 1 day workshops held at Georgia Tech, Girl Scout camps and other local facilities. The workshops include instruction on LEGO robots, Alice, Scratch, and PicoCrickets. Participant surveys have found a signification change in interest in computing after these workshops.

Barbara Ericson has 20 years of experience in computer science with a focus on the areas of computer graphics, artifical intelligence, and object-oriented programming. She has an MS in Computer Science from the University of Michigan and a BS in Computer Science from Wayne State University.

The Systers Pass-It-On Grants are funded by donations from the Systers initiative of the Anita Borg Institute, and are intended as a means for women established in technological fields to support women seeking their place in such fields. Systers is the world’s largest email community of technical women in computing founded by Anita Borg in 1987 as a small electronic mailing list for women in “systems”. Today, Systers broadly promotes the interests of women in the computing and technology fields.