The 14th BCSWomen Lovelace Colloquium for undergraduate and MSc women in computing was hosted by the University of Lancaster and was held online. Dr Safia Barikzai, Associate Professor at London South Bank University, describes the day.

Last year, due to COVID and national lockdown, we moved the 13th BCS Women Lovelace Colloquium online at very short notice. The organising team worked exceptionally hard to make it happen, and all their hard work paid off as the event was very well received and much appreciated by the student participants. We planned to be at Lancaster University for 2021, however, we were mindful that COVID restrictions would make it a challenge for us to meet in person. The organising committee met regularly to ensure our plans to host the event online was delivered smoothly.

The Lancaster University team were incredibly creative and were keen to give us a Lancaster experience, including an introduction to the famous Lancaster duck! All participants received a goodie bag (by post) which included complimentary teabag, chocolate and stickers designed by the Lancaster team - 8-bit Ada Lovelace and Lancaster ducks stickers!

Pre-event social and quiz night

The pre-event social event and quiz night was held in GatherTown and was open to the poster presenters, sponsors and helpers. Lucy Hunt used GatherTown’s MapMaker to design and build it. Lucy said, ‘Each team needed private spaces, so no over-hearing other people’s answers, plus areas to mingle and be social. I needed a (duck) spotlight to broadcast sound and vision (power point slides) to the whole room.’

There were 36 people, pre-divided in 8 teams. Each team had a google doc to capture their answers and for Hannah and Lucy to do marking/scoring. The prizes sponsors were Saggezza and Lancaster University (money or RedBubble vouchers). GatherTown enabled teams to talk and see each other - it was an engaging, fun, and informal way to start the Colloquium.

Gathertown Quiz Night

Talks and panel session

Professor Dame Sue Black, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Engagement at Lancaster University and world-renowned forensic anthropologist, delivered the opening keynote talk live via MS Teams. You can learn more about Professor Dame Sue Black's impactful work in imaging and identification of people from their hands.

We wanted to enable and facilitate conversations throughout the day. The Discord platform worked well as participants were able to have live Q&A with real-time interaction with the speakers, industry sponsors, and virtual stallholders. The three main talks were recorded, making it accessible for attendees to listen to:

  • Dr Kate Ho on Data Engineering
  • Lorraine Underwood on being a Maker
  • Professor Carron Shankland on Modelling

Additionally, we had a ‘skills and careers’ buffet, with six short talks focused on professional skills and career development. These were recorded, therefore allowing attendees to listen to them at their own pace - all of the talks from the day can be viewed here.

During the breaks, we encouraged attendees to visit the employer stands, talk to poster presenters, and mingle. It wasn’t all academic discourse - a short pilates video from Rachel Hubbard, designed to help people who are spending a lot of time at the computer, enabled attendees to look after their wellbeing.

To wrap up, we held a panel discussion chaired by Lucy Hunt, allowing attendees to ask our panellists questions related to their studies and careers. Our panellists were Miriam Sturdee of Lancaster University, Sarah Foxley of STFC, Safia Barikzai of London South Bank University and Anna Gautier, a PhD student from Oxford University).

Poster prizes

Each year, students are given the opportunity to discuss their own work in the form of a poster contest, with cash prizes provided by industry sponsors. This year’s included:

First year poster winners

  • 1st Place: Purvi Harwani of Edinburgh for ‘Hey Siri, I Don’t Feel Too Good!’
  • 2nd Place: Karolina Kowalska of Durham for ‘Digital Ladies and Their Creator Goddesses: Representation of Women in the Video Game Industry’

Second year poster winners

  • 1st Place: Molly Ives of Bath for ‘Could a Robot Commit the Perfect Murder?’.
  • 2nd Place: Marta Adamska of Lancaster for ‘The Art of Programming’.

Final year poster winners

  • 1st Place: Emilia Szynkowska of Southampton for ‘Procedural Generation and Adaptive Difficulty in Video Games’. ‘
  • 2nd Place: Alexandra Stanhope of Lancaster for ‘Ringy Stardust’.

MSc prize winners

  • 1st Place: Molly Hayward of Durham for ‘Bio-Electra: A Deep Neural Language Model for Biomedical Question-Answering’.
  • 2nd Place: Nadeen Habaybeh of York for ‘Deceive the Deceivers and Learn from Them: Implementing a Deception-Enhanced Intrusion Detection System (IDS) with Machine Learning’.

Highly commended

  • Laura Wilkinson of Aberystwyth for ‘Virtual Online Shopping - Exploring Ecommerce from a Wider Angle’.
  • Alisha Qazi Durham for ‘Will Designer Babies be the New Fashion Statement?’.
  • Natalie Sharp and Yashvi Pravinkant of Kingston for ‘Ethical Issues of Biased Datasets in Facial Recognition’.

People’s choice award

  • 1st Place: Elisabet Tammjarv of Glasgow for ‘Your social media bubble: Who has control?’
  • 2nd Place: Linda Scoon of Bangor for ‘Household Recycle Sorting Bin Design’.

Best designed poster

  • 1st Place: Noorafsha Manga of London South Bank for ‘Experiential Learning: Educational Robotics’.
  • 2nd Place: Sapphire Williams of Bangor for ‘Developing Images Through Robotic Arm’.
  • 3rd Place: Christina Moir of Abertay for ‘Unifying Games and Education in an Increasingly Online World’.

All the winning posters can be viewed here

Our supporters and sponsors

The local team in Lancaster and BCS provided amazing support. On behalf of the Lovelace Colloquium, a huge thanks to Lucy Hunt, Miriam Sturdee and Paul Rayson at Lancaster University and Olivia Wolfheart and Mandy Bauer at BCS.

We are grateful for the continued support of our sponsors - they have made the Lovelace Colloquium a reality.

This year, we welcomed new sponsors alongside our regulars. Massive thank you to WCIT charity, Amazon UK, JP Morgan, STFC and Oxford University’s AIMS CDT for sponsoring the poster prizes.

Thank you to RS Components Grassroots, LSBU Digital Grid Partnership project, Lancaster University and Saggezza for supporting the event.

The 8- bit Ada Lovelace and Lancaster duck

Designed by the team at Lancaster University

8-bit image of Ada Lovelace and Lancaster Duck