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How It All Started

In the late 1990's, a small but dedicated group of female CS students began work to form a club for CS women. This group, especially Amanda Bruns, Julie Hiatt Marek, Leslie Miles, Danielle Spears, and Jenn Yu Montgomery, enlisted the aid of the department faculty, especially Dr. Jon Beck, in trying to get some support for the effort.

In 2001, Dr. Beck approached The Boeing Company's St. Louis office with a proposal for a women's group in CS. This proposal, formally called "A Jumpstart for Women in CS," was enthusiastically accepted by Boeing, who hires many Truman CS graduates. The original group of Boeing Scholars included Alisha Raby, Heather Schubert, Katie Leverenz, Kelly Loeffelman, and Lauren Allen Gramlich, with peer mentors Heidi Hinrichsen Baumann and Kate Smorodkina Holdener.

The group's activities included:

  • Mentoring and tutoring
  • Contact with professional role models
  • A summer computing headstart camp
  • Field trips
  • Social activities and fun!

With Boeing's help, TWiCS was formally chartered as a Truman student organization in May, 2002, with Heidi unanimously elected as the group's first President. The other charter officers were Yihong Zeng, VP, Preethi Parmar, Secretary, and Sarah Trump Barth, Treasurer.

One of the most successful group activities has been a series of two-day field trips, at least one per semester since Fall 2001, to visit corporations, government agencies, and graduate schools. On the trips we meet and network with Truman alums and IT professionals. Visit sites have included Cerner, UMB Bank, Monsanto, Boeing, Nestlè PetCare, Enterprise Rent-a-Car, the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, AT&T, Sprint, the FBI, Washington University, and the MU Columbia and Rolla campuses.

The group has given academic presentations at Grace Hopper 2004 in Chicago and at OurCS 2007 at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

Reference: Beck, J. "Forming a women's computer science support group," SIGCSE Bulletin 39(1):400–404, 2007.