QoLT Participants Inspire Young Women in Computer Science Towards Research-Quality of Life Technology Center - Carnegie Mellon University

Friday, October 18, 2013

QoLT Participants Inspire Young Women in Computer Science Towards Research

Two of the QoLT Center's former Student Leadership Council (SLC) co-chairs lead QoLT-oriented sessions during this year's OurCS - Opportunities for Undergraduate Research in Computer Science - Program.

OurCS is a weekend-long workshop program designed by Carnegie Mellon's School of Computer Science and Women@SCS for Undergraduate Women in Computer Science.  The 3-day workshop is research focused and provides opportunities for undergraduate women from the USA and around the globe to work on exploratory problems in teams led by researchers from industry, academia and other computing related domains.

Participants gain the opportunity to:

  • meet others who share their curiosity and interest in computer science
  • explore the research experience in computing related domains
  • work hands-on with researchers
  • work in a team to tackle a research problem
  • present a poster: great for first timers!
  • broaden understanding of the possibilities of graduate school and the application process

Anca Dragan, incumbent SLC co-chair, and Portia Taylor, QoLT alumni and former SLC co-chair during the 2011-2012 SLC term, each lead undergraduate women teams to explore QoLT-infused research themes.  Descriptions of their session topics follow:

Anca Dragan

Anca Dragan - Ph.D. Candidate - Robotics Institute


Convey Intentionality using a Robot's Head and Arm Motion
This project is about designing motion that conveys a robot's internal state (e.g. intended goal, task difficulty, etc.). We will brainstorm to identify the parameters we want vary in the motion, produce motions for the HERB robot (http://personalrobotics.ri.cmu.edu/), and test out our hypotheses in an online user study. Some knowledge of Python and familiarity with the Linux operating system would be useful for this project.

Portia Taylor

Portia Taylor - Hardy-Apfel IT Fellow, Social Security Administration


Developing for Golden Years:  Technology for the Elderly

A worldwide “graying” of the population will lead to increased financial burden on both personal/patient and public resources.  In America alone, 20% of the population will be over the age of 65 by the year 2030.  People are living longer lives despite the physical and mental changes that occur during aging.   This project will focus on technology for the elderly that can assist in assuring a high quality of life during the later years.  We will survey current technologies, explore barriers to aging and look at the financial costs of healthcare that is associated with aging.  Students will take what they learn and propose an application to address a problem concerning elders.


Workshop participants also have a chance to learn about life in graduate school from the perspectives of faculty and current graduate students.

For more details, visit the OurCS program website.