by Elana Apfelbaum
On Monday, February 25th, New York State Assemblyman Dan Quart celebrated his $250,000 grant to Stern College for Women, allocated to create a technology space for computer science students. The computer science space plan includes a tech lab and two collaborative classrooms. The New York State grant will be used in conjunction with a generous donation from the Selma T. and Jacques H. Mitrani Foundation to create this collaborative technology lab on the ninth floor of Stanton Hall, which is predicted to open before the end of the semester.
Dr. Karen Bacon, the Mordecai and Dr. Monique C. Katz Dean of Undergraduate Faculty of Arts and Sciences, introduced the conference by discussing how the modern tech age is infused with female innovators. With Stern’s computer science department continuously growing, she commented that it is time to advance the major further by creating a space to empower a new generation of women in STEM.
Assemblyman Quart was pleased to partner with Stern College in training aspiring women to become innovative leaders in the tech world. “The future is in your hands,” he said, “It is up to you to take these opportunities and make it what you will.”
Recent graduate and current Google employee, Riva Tropp (SCW ‘17) was the first student to graduate with a major in Computer Science two years ago. She thanked the assemblyman and was stunned by the growth that the department experienced in just a few years. She also described the necessity for collaboration that she has seen first-hand in the industry.
This importance was reiterated by Ilana Radinsky (SCW ‘19), president of the Stern Association for Computing Machinery’s Council on Women (ACM-W) chapter. She explained that such a space will create a community and improve the quality of tech education that Stern students receive. She said, “In this comfortable environment, students will congregate to collaborate on projects. They will reach out to their peers sitting next to them to ask for help or to offer advice. They will make use of the writable wall spaces to whiteboard their project ideas, practice for coding interviews, and study class material.”
In order to give Assemblyman Quart a sense of the many opportunities he was facilitating, Zoe Abboudi (SCW ‘20), taught him basic coding skills. Although he was convinced he would not be able to code, she helped him write a program to output the words “Computer Science” to his computer console, as well as move a turtle graphic around the screen.
The computer science major continues to flourish at Stern, with 22 declared majors and students securing jobs and internships with top tech companies, such as Google, Facebook and Palantir. Due to the growth, Professor Alan Broder, Computer Science Department Chair, wishes to continue on this trajectory and cultivate a space that will foster collaboration and innovation. This new project will transform the ninth floor of Stanton Hall with the high tech look inviting students into the modern space. Containing state of the art AV equipment, a makerspace, floor to ceiling glass walls that double as whiteboards and projector screens, and hackable lighting, the new space will function as a hub for computer science students and bring together a community of women to take the tech world by storm.
Rivka Axelrod (SCW ‘20) excitedly anticipates the completion of the lab. She believes that it will “give students the opportunity to develop leadership and team building skills that are necessary for their computer science projects and future careers.”