Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Why you (Yes, you) should apply for the AiC Award.

This last fall, I had the chance to apply for something called the National Center for Women in Technology's Aspirations in Computing Award.  I learned about it at the National Girl Scouting Convention last year, while wandering around the convention floor . This award is for High School girls who are interested in computing, have pursued education or achievement in computing, and who want to connect with other girls who are interested in the same.

The requirements aren't restrictive: no matter how much experience you have, or what area of computing you're interested in,  you can definitely apply and still have a chance of winning. The big things the judges are looking for are passion and the drive to pursue it.  There are two levels of awards: regional, and national. National awardees and runner's ups get a scholarship, and all awardees get an award and recognition from NCWIT. The application requires you to talk about your plans for your future in computing, and how you want to achieve them, as well as supply an "educator's endorsement" that functions as a letter of recommendation.  I won a regional award and was a national runner's up this last year. As a result I got some nifty swag, and the opportunity to go to a regional awards ceremony with 11 or so other regional winners. These were some of the coolest people. I met other girls interested in programming, design, research, and so many other things. It was a great experience, lots of fun.

But by far the best part about the AIC awards is the wide range opportunities made available to the winners. For example, all awardees  gain access to a special Facebook page where they can discuss school, jobs, computing, and the world of technology. It's very active, and the people there are all kind and helpful. But in my opinion, the most important benefit that comes from the NCWIT awards are the networking opportunities. At the regional award ceremony, I met a girl who later invited me to join her FTC robotics team, the professor I worked with as a research intern at a university robotics lab over the summer, and the woman who helped me fund my school Makerspaces' Donorschoose project, getting us a 3D printer.

Applications open today, and close on October 26th this year. If you are in any way interested, I can't encourage you enough to look into it. It's an awesome opportunity,  an impressive resume builder, and there are many award winners each year from all different backgrounds. Be sure to take the next step toward fulfilling your aspirations today.