Women in Computing Conference at AUB Overview

ArabWIC 5th Annual International Conference on Arab Women in Computing took place on 10-12 Aug 2017 at the beautiful American University of Beirut (AUB) campus. In the presence of 450 people, the conference was opened by Dr. Sana Odeh, ArabWIC Founder and Professor of Computer Science at New York University; Dr. Inaya Ezzeddine, Minister of State for Administrative Reform in the Lebanon; Dr. Fadlo R. Khuri, AUB President; and Dr. Wassim El-Hajj, Associate Professor and Chair of the Computer Science department at AUB. The 3 day conference, which featured over 100 speakers, as well as posters, hackathons, speed mentoring, and career fair, brought people together, built bonds through shared interest in technology, and energized the participants from places as far apart as Canada, China, Switzerland, and Sudan.

You can see more about the event and the “cultural bias in machine learning datasets birds of a feather” in the companion blog entry https://developer.ibm.com/opentech/2017/08/15/removing-cultural-bias-training-datasets-machine-learning/ and in tweets. You can see press, TV coverage, images and more here.

The photos & videos in this blog entry were chosen carefully as some people prefer not to appear on camera. Please post a response to this blog entry if you would like any items removed.

Scenes of Lebanon, AUB and the Conference – incorporating a scene in Romeo Kienzler‘s Machine Learning workshop, and a photo of the awards for one of the winning teams in the Hackathon for Refugees. Hackathon judges included Abeer Al-Raee, Hans Boef, and Kaoutar El Maghraoui

IBMers at the Conference at AUB

Ten IBMers participated in the Arabic Women in Computing Conference in Beirut on 10-12 August 2017:

Many thanks to the IBMers (and their managers – and IBM Human Resources) for their whole-hearted participation and their many and diverse contributions to the event. Congratulations to Dr Kaoutar El Maghraoui, who is the new chair of the ArabWIC organization.


Judging the Posters – Judges included Professor Dalila Chiadmi and Dr Kaoutar El Maghraoui. The three winning posters appear in this photo. Yes – the posters were on view outside in the beautiful AUB campus during the day & after dark!

Activities the IBMers Engaged In

IBMers engaged in many activities including:

  • Delivering excellent technology keynote on IBM Research and engaging with BBC Arabic (see Kaoutar above in video)
  • Conducting three workshops that included blockchain, machine learning, IoT, robots & analysis in real-time of data from enthusiastic participants’ phones (boom boom shake shake)
  • Conducting two over-subscribed design thinking workshops for ArabWIC chapters
  • Chairing and participating in a number of career, technology, & ecosystem panels
  • Co-chairing the research and technology tracks; Assisting with managing the workshop sessions
  • Assisting with mentoring and judging at 2 hackathons: (1) Hackathon for refugees (2) Hackathon for students and professionals
  • Showing & managing posters; Assisting with judging posters. The poster winners were (in no particular order):
    • Postgraduate / Research: Hyper-heuristics for Wind Farm Layout Optimisation Problem; Alaa Daffalla, Yossra Noureldien and Ahmed Kheiri
    • Postgraduate / Research: Detecting Brain Tumors in Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI); Latifa Aldhafeeri
    • Undergraduate: Video Summarization Using High-Level Visual Concepts; Tala Tarazi, Yaman Qendah, Saja Hazem, Radi Jarrar and Nariman Ammar
  • Meeting & following up with AUB faculty, e.g., Professor Mariette Awad; Meeting & following up with startups from across the MENA region
  • Formulating plans for activities in other MENA region cities – including participating in the next NYUAD hackathon for social good & the next women in computing conference planned for Morocco on 7-9 Mar 2019, chaired by Professor Dalila Chiadmi

During some of my sessions, I mentioned my enthusiasm for:


Scenes from the Blockchain Workshop
Joud Odeh‘s Design Thinking Workshops and More

Feedback for Future Conferences

These are some of the points we discussed in our post conference reviews:

  • Add ‘ask me anything sessions’ around technical subjects, combine these mentor sessions
  • Add longer hands-on workshops
  • Add innovation sessions to talk about latest technology around certain subjects an how it is being used
  • Separate the Hackathon from the conference, so no sessions during hackathon
  • Conduct the poster sessions during a reception or breaks, so more people attend
  • Place the program of the conference in one place. There were at least two, and they were not identical
  • Have volunteers/moderators in every room, to help speakers and keeping track of time

Related External Blog Entries


IBM Internal Blogs

These links will work for IBM employees only.


Scenes at AUB including at the bottom right : Dr. Inaya Ezzeddine, Minister of State for Administrative Reform in the Lebanon

Prior Conferences

Shortlink for this blog entry https://wp.me/p6tTze-2z0

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