In March of 2013 the Santa Clara Valley (SCV) chapter of GOLD was asked to help plan a session at the Global Humanitarian Technology Conference (GHTC). We recognized this as a great opportunity for SCV GOLD and accepted the challenge. At the same time, our local chapter for Women in Engineering (WIE) was being re-established. In a bid to create a strategic partnership and help the WIE chapter build their membership and exposure, we asked WIE to plan the session with us—naturally they agreed.
The GHTC has historically run a substantial deficit, so we were given the tough challenge of finding funding for the event. We sought funding from a number of industry and IEEE sources; in the end, our sponsors were IEEE WIE, IEEE Region 6 Young Professionals (YP), IEEE Santa Clara Valley Section, and IEEE YP. IEEE YP also asked us to do the honor of announcing their name change from “GOLD” to “YP” and launching their new logo. We were truly honored to be able to do this.
Our event took place on October 20, 2013 starting at 19:00 at the San Jose Airport Garden Hotel in California. We were fortunate to have 97 attendees from over 25 countries attend this event, creating a truly diverse atmosphere for discussing ways to use technology to improve humanity.
The GHTC is truly aligned with the IEEE’s tagline, “Advancing Technology for Humanity.” There are many sessions offered at this conference and I urge you to consider attending next year. It’s truly inspirational to see how engineers around the world use their skills to better humanity!
Thomson Nguyen, CEO of Framed Data—a company which helps non-profits receive the benefits of data analytics—was our speaker. Framed Data is building a general-purpose data science platform which will provide analysis for multiple non-profits, greatly reducing the cost for each organization. Thomson’s talk was entitled Data Science for Good: Using Engineering and Machine Learning to Affect Societal Change. He gave specific examples of how he had used data science to solve problems in the non-profit world. One example was a model he created to help medical doctors determine whether to hospitalize a patient or not, based on a number of variables. This model was shown to greatly reduce improper hospitalization.
One of the most important things demonstrated in this talk was that we can use our skills to improve the lives of others. It’s important for us to think about the impact our skills can have, and how they can improve the effectiveness of non-profits around the world; however, our skills as engineers are prohibitively expensive for most non-profits to afford. (SCV YP recently ran a separate Volunteer Information Evening where non-profits came to discuss opportunities for engineers to improve their causes. For example, there were requirements for hardware engineers helping build systems to protect endangered wildlife, for software engineers building apps to improve literacy, and opportunities to speak in classrooms to give hope to our future generations. Think about how your engineering skills could improve the efficiency of a non-profit and better people’s lives in your community!)
After the speaker, we had offered an hour-long open bar where participants could relax with a drink and discuss the topics at hand. There were many interesting projects discussed, such as a crowdsourcing platform to employ people in the third world. We also had two delicious cakes sponsored by IEEE YP featuring the new YP logo. The night was a huge success that not only provided global visibility for YP and WIE, but also laid the groundwork for a number of strategic partnerships for our chapter.