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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Dean joins deck of fame

Gracie Mock, The Battalion news reporter, sits down with senior associate dean for academic affairs Valerie Taylor to talk about her recent inclusion in a Kickstarter project funding a “Notable Women in Computing” card deck.
THE BATTALION: How did you get started in computing?
TAYLOR: I got started in computing when I was in high school. I took my first programming class when I was a sophomore. We learned Fortran at that time. I was excited by the things that you could do with wiring software. I recall one of our main projects was focused on developing a very simple reservation system. Now my research is focused on efficient use of multiple computers simultaneously — or parallel processing — to solve complicated problems.
THE BATTALION: How were you approached to be featured in this project?
TAYLOR: I was approached by Susan Rodger at Duke University, and Katy Dickinson with Everwise approached me in September about being including with the Notable Women in Computing deck of cards. I was honored to be included and thought the deck of cards was an innovative way to engage young children.
THE BATTALION: Were you influenced by any of the women featured in the deck? If so, who and how?
TAYLOR: I was greatly influenced by Anita Borg, who along with Telle Whitney started the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Conference. Anita was a phenomenal woman who was an excellent researcher and had great passion and dedication to advancing women in technology. I met Anita when I was a graduate student at UC, Berkeley. She helped me with my research as an assistant professor at Northwestern University. Because of Anita, I attended the first Grace Hopper Conference in 1994 in Washington, D.C. Anita was very supportive of the start of a group focused on women of color and computing. One of Anita’s famous quotes is, “Well behaved women rarely change the world.”
I also know Fran Allen, who was the first woman IBM Fellow and the first woman to receive the prestigious ACM Turing Award for her work with optimizing compliers. She also had a role in intelligence work on programming languages and security codes for the NSA. Fran is an excellent role model who is recognized for her research excellence and her passion for helping other women.
THE BATTALION: What is your proudest moment as a woman in computer science and engineering?
TAYLOR: In 2013, when I received the recognition as a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) for my research in high performance computing. IEEE Fellow is a distinction reserved for select IEEE members with extraordinary accomplishments in fields related to IEEE.
THE BATTALION: What kind of impact could this project have on young women trying to find a career path?
TAYLOR: Having the deck of cards allows young children to learn about the contributions of women in computing while engaged in the games that they play regularly. As is well known, when you combine knowledge with everyday play you can have a significant impact on young children. In this way, young children will have the correct information about the significant impact of women in computing and know that for young girls, they have many excellent role models.

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