Join Robin Hammerman and other Ada Lovelace researchers and fans at Stevens Institute of Technology in October

In January, we shared with you the call for papers for the Celebrating the Achievements and Legacies of Ada Lovelace conference:

CALL FOR PAPERS
Celebrating the Achievements and Legacies of Ada Lovelace
18 October 2013
Stevens Institute of Technology, College of Arts and Letters (Hoboken, New Jersey, USA)

An interdisciplinary conference celebrating the achievements and legacies of the poet Lord Byron’s only known legitimate child, Ada Byron King, Countess of Lovelace (1815–1852), will take place at Stevens Institute of Technology (Hoboken, New Jersey) on 18 October 2013. This conference will coincide with the week celebrating Ada Lovelace Day, a global event for women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). All aspects of the achievements and legacies of Ada Lovelace will be considered, including but not limited to:

  • Lovelace as Translator and/or Collaborator
  • Technology in the Long Nineteenth Century
  • Women in Computing: Past/Present/Future
  • Women in STEM- Past/Present/Future
  • Ada Lovelace and her Circle

Please submit proposals or abstracts of 250-500 words by 14 May 2013 to: Robin Hammerman (rhammerm@stevens.edu).

Submissions are still open, and organiser Robin Hammerman shares more about the conference and her interest in Ada Lovelace:

Q. Tell us a little about yourself.

Robin: I teach Literature and Communications at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey. Most of our students major in STEM. To me, it is amazing to see how well our students build on their strengths and face their challenges in humanities courses. We are a relatively small school of only around 6,000 students with a strong spirit of collaboration. Our College of Arts and Letters is an ideal venue for hosting the upcoming Ada conference. We are a warm and welcoming part of the Stevens community, dedicated to mindful exchanges and – in my estimation – a perfect match for the Ada world. My research interests include science fiction, comics and graphic novels, and British Romanticism. I am chiefly a Byronist, so my initial connection to Ada was forged through my exposure to her father's life and works. Additionally, it has been my honor to serve the Byron Society of America as its Director of Membership and Academic Services since 2007. As you might imagine, we have many Ada fans in our membership!

Q. What motivated you to create a conference about Ada Lovelace?

Robin: The time is definitely right to bring Ada to campus. Stevens was a male-only school until 1971 and now we have a flourishing community of women on campus. We are constantly generating fantastic opportunities for women so that they might thrive here, and it has definitely been working. Within the College of Arts and Letters alone we developed an excellent Gender Studies program, and our new program for Science and Technology Studies – also within CAL – strongly anchors women in STEM. Additionally, in 1982 Stevens became the first major educational institution in the U.S. to implement a personal computer requirement for its students. Back then, a pioneering technology project resulted in the networking of the entire Stevens campus, creating one of the nation’s first Intranets. Clearly, Stevens is well-positioned to host a conference celebrating Ada's legacies and achievements.

Q. Who should speak at or attend this conference?

Robin: I anticipate an interdisciplinary extravaganza of past/present/future with people of varying interests represented in the audience and the speakers. Really, all are welcome – faculty, students, independent and rogue scholars, enthusiasts…the call for papers is rather open. In addition to topics on women in STEM, the history of computing, etc. we are interested in developing panels on new media. I would really like to hear some work at the conference on Ada's collaboration with Charles Babbage as well as Ada's larger circle. She had some very interesting friends, including Charles Dickens. While we are on the subject of literary topics, we are developing a panel on Ada's iconic status in Steampunk Literature – so you see, there is hardly a limit to what we might include. You don't have to be a passionate supporter of women in STEM to attend or speak at this conference, but it helps!

Q. What is your favorite Lovelace fact or story?

Robin: To me, the coolest ever Lovelace fact is that NASA named its first computer program after her. As a Byronist, I think that Ada never meeting her father is an interesting part of her story. Nevertheless, this fact seems to say more about her father than it does about her.

Q. What are your plans for next year?

Robin: I am interested in seeing how our Stevens community and beyond will be enriched by the conference proceedings. Next year will provide us with unique opportunities to expand our Ada-inspired knowledge bases. If it seems appropriate, perhaps we might consider developing a publication including papers from the conference. Most of all, this conference will bring together people who might otherwise not have met. From this act of coming together, I anticipate long-term benefits in our collective thinking about what it means to have true, interdisciplinary engagement.