While it still snuck up on me, this year’s Ada Lovelace Day reflection is easy: Grace Hopper. It was easy because I used her canonical bug report as an image in my Software Engineering Lecture on Testing:
An actual bug in your bug report! Awesome! For that alone, I’m inspired. Plus, it was such a useful image and thought to use because one of the things I’m trying to get across is the importance of systems thinking: Sometimes the bug is, in fact, a bug.
Hopper is one of the more well known women in computer science (there’s a couple of film clips, plus past Ada Lovelace Day posts, Google did a Doodle for her 107th birthday, she had a destroyer and a supercomputer named for her, etc.) and so perhaps a bit “easy” for a post. But hey! Part of the point is for me to learn and I did work her into my class last week!
In addition to (perhaps) coining the term “debugging”), she wrote the first compiler and championed high level languages (including the very important but hopefully near dead COBAL). It’s hard to overestimate the impact of these two contributions!
Grace Cooper is the past, the other inspiration for me is my niece, Annika Parsia. She recently did a video for her school on the importance of being an engineer:
The first I knew of her engineering ambitions was this video! I really want a world where she can have this interest and excitement and flourish for it. Ada Lovelace Day helps bring that world closer into being.