At VMware, we’re passionate about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). As instigators of innovation, VMware people recognize that their spark for computer science started from an early age. Living our EPIC2 values, VMware people are combining their passion for STEM with Service Learning in the broader community. Our collaboration with First Bytes Summer Computer Science Camp at The University of Texas at Austin is just one example of our ongoing efforts to empower students in STEM. Read on to learn more.
2014 marked VMware’s third year participating in First Bytes, a one-week camp hosted by The University of Texas at Austin for high school girls interested in pursuing computer science as a degree in college. After an application and panel selection process, approximately 60 girls from across the state of Texas were invited to attend.
The VMware sponsored portion of the camp was held June 18 and 19. On June 18, VMware hosted the campers onsite at our River Place office in Austin, Texas. After a short overview of VMware’s University Relations Program and snacks by Hey Cupcake!.
Sharon Weber, Staff Engineer for Ecosystem Infrastructure spoke about the Heartbleed Bug and how a single line of code can impact the whole world. “It was great to see the camper’s interest and overall knowledge about Heartbleed and online security. They asked some refreshing questions on the topic and showed interest in our open culture and warm welcome to the campers, which was exciting to see,” commented Weber.
For the activity portion of the day, the campers were broken into teams and using a maze, saw how programming is about giving instructions where several ways or solutions can lead to the end result. The winning team won a VMware goody bag.
To wrap up the day, five VMware women from the R&D and sales organizations engaged with the campers to talk about their individual career paths – from college to the workplace. Our “Anything Boys Can Code Girls Can Code Better” tee shirts were a bit hit too.
On Thursday, June 19 the VMware University Relations team and two engineers from our Palo Alto, California and Cambridge, Massachusetts offices headed over to The University of Texas at Austin for a series of Hands On Labs. Sharon Tam, Engineer for vCloud Hybrid Service taught the girls how to program a game in SCRATCH. Soumya Mishra, VMware Engineer working on vShield taught the girls about hacking and Internet security. Any camper who wore her VMware shirt to the lab was given a raffle ticket to win one of two “Raspberry Pi’s,” a coding device that the girls had used earlier in the week at camp.
On Friday, June 20, Soumya Mishra sat on an informal lunch panel that allowed the campers to ask career related questions to several professionals within the IT industry. “Getting an opportunity to present on ‘Internet security’ at the First Bytes summer camp was truly a wonderful experience. The appetite for knowledge and enthusiasm to learn about the new technology trends displayed by the girls was beyond words. I gained insight on what today’s youth thinks about the computer science field and apprehensions in joining it. I was glad to be of help in providing them a clear vision of the industry and encouraging them to be a part of it,” said Mishra.
Based on the camper’s enthusiasm (and the fun we had), we believe that this was our best camp yet! We are really looking forward to hosting the campers again next year. Special thanks to Sharon Weber, Sharon Tam, Soumya Mishra, Kelly Dare and Jennifer Green from VMware for contributing their Service Learning time and sharing their skills and talents with these amazing young women.
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