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Gateways 2016 — Student Reflections

SGCI sponsored the attendance of several students at Gateways 2016. Some of these students contributed blog posts after the conference and offered their impressions and suggestions, as well as ideas on how to improve the student experience as we look ahead to Gateways 2017. Here are some of the highlights:

Charlie Nelson, a student at Elizabeth City State University (ECSU), felt that the conference was educational and that conference attendees, whether representatives of the private sector, universities or government agencies, were approachable and willing to assist students in any way. Charlie found the talks that he attended to be informative even with the realization that, at times, the material was too advanced for him. He made some suggestions to help future student attendees at Gateways conferences, including the idea to create a handout with conference-centered buzzwords to help prepare students on what they can expect to hear about. Charlie also stated:

“I would recommend that there be a scheduled time slot to allow students and professionals to interact purposefully. If internships, assitantships, and career positions are available, I would recommend a possible career or graduate school fair with application assistance. Students and young professionals could greatly benefit from this.”


Charlie Nelson helping to spread the word about the SGCI Young Professionals Network during the Gateways 2016 Evening Reception and Poster Session.


Another student from ECSU, Kevin Benton, explained his experience at Gateways 2016 as “eye-opening” and discussed some of the presentations that he had the opportunity to attend. He highlighted what he learned from Randy Heiland’s presentations entitled “Secure Software Engineering Practices” and “Science Gateways and Cybersecurity: Learning from the Past and Preparing for the Future” Kevin also echoed some of Charlie’s sentiments about improvements that can be made for Gateways 2017:

“If I had to say what could improve the conference for students like me, who have little to no information about gateways, I would suggest providing a sheet of words or terms like the ones on the SGCI website. This sheet would help to educate inexperienced attendees on the information presented. By doing this, participants would be able to better follow presentations and grasp pertinent concepts faster. Understanding the concepts presented would allow participants to have a deep connection to the presentation and not feel so overwhelmed. I would also like to recommend a possible internship/career/graduate school fair as I believe that students and young professionals could greatly benefit from this.”


Kevin Benton, pictured second from left, with other students at Gateways 2016


Finally, we heard from Joel Santiago of ECSU, who shared his appreciation for the “Analysis of from a Business Perspective” presentation made by Lynn Zentner of Purdue University. Joel also explained how much he appreciated the opportunity to network while at the conference:

“Another really enjoyable aspect was all the people I met at the conference. I met people from all around the world in one little place. Luckily, I was able to speak to them about a common shared interest for technology and the advancement of people. Whether talking about mentors, programming languages, or chips implanted into humans, every conversation opened up another interesting chapter. With each conversation I was able to understand the mindset of those who are very successful in their field and passionate about what they do. Many inspired me to spend extra time on what it is that I want to do and set time aside for special projects that I want to work on. The intensity and rate at which knowledge was shared could not have happened anywhere else but Gateways 2016.”


Joel, pictured second from left, attending a tutorial at Gateways 2016