September 27, 2023

A Look Back at Tapia 2023: Key Conference Highlights

The CMD-IT/ACM Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing Conference continues to serve as the premier event that celebrates diversity, fosters inclusivity, and creates a space to discuss current trends in tech. This year, we elevated diversity in tech with thousands of undergraduate and graduate students, professionals, faculty, and researchers in the tech field. Whether you attended in person or kept up on social media, join us in taking a look back at this year’s Tapia Conference.

Approximately 2,000 Attendees
With a focus on addressing the underrepresentation of diverse communities in tech, the Tapia Conference serves as a catalyst for meaningful conversations, influential connections, and transformative opportunities. This year we welcomed approximately 2,000 attendees and close to 100 corporate, academic, government and nonprofit supporters at the Tapia Conference Career Fair. Additionally, the conference featured over 70 panels, workshops and presentations with over 150 speakers from various tech backgrounds who shared their expertise and experiences.

Inspiring Keynote Speakers
One of the most valuable aspects of the conference was the keynote speakers. To kick off the conference on Thursday, Dr. Joel Branch, Chief AI Officer at Blattner Technologies, moderated the Fireside Chat on generative AI, with panelists, Donald Stephens, Managing Director of Quantitative Modeling and Applied AI Research with JPMorgan, and Dalain Williams, Data and Insights Lead with Google.  On Friday,  Dr. Solar-Lezama, an esteemed Professor, Associate Director, and COO at MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, gave the Ken Kennedy Distinguished Lecture on how machines can help human experts write code.   During the closing banquet,  Tara Astigarraga, a Distinguished Engineer and Master Inventor from IBM Systems Assurance, addressed the importance of having a growth mindset and promoted creativity. h. Their words of wisdom and inspiration continue to resonate with attendees well beyond the conference. Read more about the Fireside Chat here, Dr. Solar-Lezama here and Tara Astigarraga here.

Dr. Charles Isbell Honored
The Richard A. Tapia Achievement Award for Scientific Scholarship, Civic Science, and Diversifying Computing was presented to Dr. Charles Isbell, a distinguished scholar and leader. Dr. Isbell is a visible and exceptional role model with significant contributions in the areas of AI and autonomous agents, as well as broadening participation in computing, including serving as the founding Executive Director for the Constellations Center for Equity in Computing at Georgia Tech. Dr. Isbell is the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. 

Highlighting Innovative Scholars
This year’s Doctoral Consortium winner, Gloire Rubambiza from Cornell University, was honored for his Doctoral Presentation titled Towards Resilient Rural Networking Infrastructure for Digital Agriculture. His research addresses rural networking infrastructure fragility through critical technical practice (CTP). CTP is a socio-technical approach that unifies hands-on system building with critical reflection on the anticipated societal impacts of the technical decisions. 

Spotlighting Revolutionary Research
Another highlight of the Tapia Conference was the research poster competition. The poster winners presented their innovative research, showcasing exceptional talent and creativity. The top three winners in Graduate and Undergraduate categories are listed below. Their work is a testament to the bright future of technology and the impact that diverse perspectives and backgrounds have on innovation.

Graduate Student Winners

  • 1st Place – Parth Ganeriwala from Florida Institute of Technology, Cross Dataset Analysis And Network Architecture Repair For Autonomous Vehicle Lane Detection.
  • 2nd Place – Rubenia Borge from the University of North Texas, An Evaluation of Machine Learning and Deep Learning Applications in the Context of Public Health and Epidemiology.
  • 3rd Place – Rrezarta Krasniqi from the University of North Texas, Extracting Crosscutting Comment Discussions from Issue Tracking Systems in Support of Bug Repair.

Undergraduate Student Winners

  • 1st Place – Emmanuel Alonge from DePauw University, Distributed Anomaly Detection using Machine Learning Techniques in IOTs.
  • 2nd Place – Elijah Ballou from Morgan State University, Have a Heart: VR for Homelessness Education and Empathy.
  • 3rd Place – Nathaniel Hughes from Auburn University at Montgomery, AfriSenti-SemEval: Exploring The Viability of Pre-Trained Multilingual Language Models For Monolingual Sentiment Classification for Low-Resources African Languages.

In addition to the conference research poster competition, the Tapia Conference also hosts the ACM Student Research Competition (SRC). This year Yannis Ioannidis, the President of ACM, attended Tapia and presented the following ACM poster winners:

Graduate Student Winners

  • 1st Place – Ritika Dhiman from Carnegie Mellon University, “Data-to-Text” Generation.
  • 2nd Place – Saika Zaman from Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Trustworthy Agent-Driven Particle Swarm Optimization for Communication-Efficient Federated Learning.
  • 3rd Place –  Iliana Castillon from Colorado State University, Predicting the Occurrence of Déjà Vu using Eye Features.

Undergraduate Student Winners

  • 1st Place – Angela Busheska from Lafayette College, Ingesting and Analyzing Open Source Automatic Speech Data for African and Indian Languages.
  • 2nd Place –  Hung Ngo from Bucknell University, A Touchless Typing Approach Using Apple Augmented Reality Kit and Sequence-to-Sequence Learning.
  • 3rd Place – Gabriel Serrano from Kean University, Realtime ASL Recognition Using Computer Vision and AI.

In addition to the poster competition, the conference featured a series of innovative talks on AI. Speakers demonstrated the potential of AI to revolutionize fields such as healthcare, transportation, and education while emphasizing the importance of ethical considerations.

Save the date for Tapia 2024, September 18-20 in San Diego, where we anticipate even more exceptional ideas and conversations. The call for proposals will be available in January 2024. CMD-IT is continuously creating new programs and opportunities to promote inclusivity and diversity in the tech industry. CMD-IT is focused on the following communities: African-Americans/Blacks, Hispanics/Latinx, Native Americans/Indigenous People, and People with Disabilities. Stay connected by joining us at the new CMD-IT Community Selected Monthly Webinars and Quarterly Roundtable Discussions. Sign up for updates by clicking here.