How to improve tech opportunities for Central Valley students? ¡Valle de Exploración!


Bay Area native Erin Hestir followed a non-traditional path to a position in technology before becoming an engineering professor at UC Merced. Inspired by her own experience, Hestir will launch a new UC Merced program to expand STEM access for San Joaquin Valley students. “I look forward to a future where the faces in these positions reflect the faces of California, representing women like me and members of my community,” says Hestir.

The new program, “Valle de Exploracion: Find your path to a tech career,” launches February 7-9 at UC Merced. Sponsored by the Women in Technology Initiative at the University of California, Merced College, UC Merced, and Google ExploreCSR, the two-day workshop will train 32 undergraduates from six Central Valley campuses about computer science, data, and developing employment and graduate program applications for employment. The workshop will feature Dr. Saeideh Bakhshi of Google and ag-food-tech leaders Seana Day and Adrienne Gifford; Merced College computer science professor Kathy Kanemoto will lead a drone exercise.

The workshop kicks off with a keynote by Julie Baker of Ursa Space Systems, a satellite and earth imagery tech company, also part of the CITRIS Frontiers in Technology lecture series. The hourlong lecture is free and open to the public; UC Merced Classroom and Offices Building 2, Room 140, 12-1 pm on Friday, Feb. 7.

What:Valle de Exploracion: Find your path to a tech career” two-day workshop
Who: Leigh Bernacchi, Ph.D., Program Director, CITRIS UC Merced
When: Kickoff Friday, Feb. 7, 12-1 pm
Where: UC Merced Classroom and Offices Building 2, Room 140

The Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS) and the Banatao Institute drive interdisciplinary innovation for social good with faculty researchers and students from four University of California campuses – Berkeley, Davis, Merced, and Santa Cruz – along with public and private partners.

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