Tech Talks

On Direct Communication Methods: from Smart City IoT Applications to Space Missions

Baek-Young Choi, Ph.D. University of Missouri – Kansas City

2:00 PM Friday – City Center B

We are at a point in society where the world around us is deeply embedded with smart objects that are wirelessly connected to each other and eventually through the Internet. IoT is attracting huge interest from both academia and industry, and most of the things in our life are likely to get connected in the near future. At the core of the current IoT technologies, is the communication through radio frequency, such as WiFi and Bluetooth. With the prevalence of connected devices, our reliance on the radio frequency communication is becoming significant. However, the radio spectrum is extremely crunched and its dependability becomes a growing issue. Therefore, we argue that it is important to diversify communication methods. In this talk, we will discuss alternative and complimentary wireless communication methods, including radio frequency, infrared, and visible lights, through the IoT applications we have built with those. We will compare their cons and pros from various perspectives, and provide insights for a better connected world. We will also discuss how diverse communication methods can help wireless sensing for space missions.

Dr. Baek-Young Choi is an Associate Professor at the University of Missouri – Kansas City (UMKC), has been in teaching and research in the broad areas of computer networks and systems including Cloud Computing, Smart Device Technologies, Internet-of-Things, Network Algorithms and Protocols, Data Storage and Management Systems, and Measurement, Analysis and Modeling of Network Traffic, Performance and Security. Dr. Choi has published over a hundred technical papers, and has served as an associate editor of three international journals. She has also served as a chair, and on organizing committees and steering committees for more than twenty conferences and workshops including N2Women. This is in addition to serving as a technical committee member for more than seventy conferences and workshops. Prior to joining the University of Missouri – Kansas City, Dr. Choi held positions at Sprint Advanced Technology Labs, and the University of Minnesota, Duluth, as a postdoctoral researcher, and as a 3M McKnight distinguished visiting assistant professor, respectively. She published three books on network monitoring, storage systems, and cloud computing. She has been a faculty fellow of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory’s Visiting Faculty Research Program (AFRL-VFRP) and Korea Telecom’s – Advance Institute of Technology (KT-AIT). She is a senior member of ACM and IEEE, and a member of IEEE Women in Engineering.



The genetic link between finger length and brain function: How hands indicate capabilities

Jeanne Johnson, Microsoft Corporation

3:00 PM Friday – City Center A

There is a neuroscientific link between the way our hands are formed in utero and the way our brains function. By recognizing these important hand configurations, you can modify your approach with peers and employees for better outcomes.

Outcomes:  This fun and informative session uses humor, technology, and science to call attention to a little-known correlation in the human body.  By using this knowledge you can create better functioning teams, modify your approach for more collaborative experience based on this information, and derive greater satisfaction when trying to solve interpersonal issues.

Technology Focus: Building stronger teams, retaining talent

Jeanne Johnson is a Business Development Director in the world-wide Strategy and Planning team of the One Commercial Partner organization at Microsoft.  With a lifetime of experience in the technology industry, Jeanne focuses on the co-creation of profitable practice business models with those companies interested in rapid transformation by partnering with Microsoft. Prior to joining Microsoft, Jeanne started up, rapidly grew, and profitably sold several technology companies in the United States. Specializing in systems integration, mobile application design and build, and re-architecting and optimizing legacy systems in the large enterprise; Johnson’s companies were known for the early adoption of disruptive technologies and the nontraditional partnering with her competitors to build greater success.

Jeanne lives on the beach in Washington State and has recently been recognized for her work in tsunami preparedness.  She is the proud mother of 3 adult children, rides a Harley Davidson, and enjoys cooking, gardening, and creating art.



What is Data Science?

Jennifer Dreher, Tamara Johnson and Amy Kim, Commerce Bank

3:00 PM Friday – City Center B

You have likely heard the term, Data Science, but what does it mean? In this presentation you will learn about Data Science and Analytics. Discover not only the definitions but what it takes to be successful in roles that support it and some use cases to help you understand real world application. All industries are looking for talent in this space, come see if this is a career fit for you!

Jennifer Dreher is Vice President and Manager of Enterprise Analytics at Commerce Bank in Kansas City. She joined the bank over 16 years ago as an intern and has developed expertise in a variety of roles related to Personal banking, Bankcard and Loan Systems, Project Management and her true passion of Data Science. Jennifer manages a team of 12 data scientists/data analysts responsible for providing analytic business intelligence solutions that drive business decision making to the Enterprise. She has recently been a leader in bringing Big Data technology and Machine Learning analytics to the bank. Jennifer is also a Master Champion responsible for sustaining and promoting Commerce Bank’s culture initiative and is also a member of R.I.S.E.(Respect, Inspire, Succeed, Empower) a Women’s Resource Group at the bank. Jennifer holds a BS in Mathematics (emphasis Applied Math) from Kansas University and a Master’s of Business Administration (emphasis Marketing) from University of Missouri – Kansas City.

Tamara Johnson is a Data Scientist Lead at Commerce Bank and has performed statistical analysis for consumer credit card during her 3 years with the bank. She has a B.S. in Actuarial Science and an M.S. in Statistics. Prior to working at Commerce, Tamara was a research actuary at State Farm and a lecturer in the KU Math Department. During her career, Tamara has used predictive modeling, experimental design, unsupervised learning, forecasting, and simulation within SAS to find revenue generating solutions in the financial services industry.



Amy Kim is a Data Scientist Lead at Commerce Bank and has been working at Commerce for over 8 years. Amy leads a team that supports Fraud Analytics, Lending products, Consumer Credit, and Fair Lending. Amy has a B.S. in Mathematics and Computer Science, an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and an M.A. in Mathematics. Amy has extensive SAS knowledge focusing on forecasting, designing experiments, and response modeling. As a hobby, she also teaches statistics for the University of Kansas.




Beyond Diversity: The Keys to Successful Recruitment, Retention and Ascension of Quality Women and Minorities in Computer Science

Juanita Simmons, Ph.D Northwest Missouri State University

4:00 PM Friday – Meeting Place 2 and 3

Women, especially those who identify as racial and/or ethnic minorities, account for a small fraction of scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians (STEM). Even though recent reports from the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (January 2017) point to 8.6 million STEM jobs in the current workforce, racial and gender gaps still exist. Many pipeline agencies of the U.S. STEM workforce, as well as private industry, seek to enhance the pool of diverse populations for staffing federal and corporate jobs. What are successful recruitment strategies for this population; and, how is this population best retained? What lessons might be learned from promoting (or lack of promoting) this population; and, do traditional ascension strategies impede or improve their workplace longevity? How do we work beyond diversity to grow and keep women and minorities in STEM aboard?

Juanita M. Cleaver Simmons, Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Northwest Missouri State University, began this inaugural position in August of 2016. She was awarded emerita associate professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia, where she served for fourteen years in the Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis division of the College of Education. She is a graduate of the University of Texas-Austin where she earned her PhD in Urban Superintendency and a Master’s in Educational Leadership. Her research agenda focuses on race, gender, class, and equity in organizations and institutions. She is the author of numerous publications and is currently under contract for her upcoming book, Emancipatory Leadership (2017) with Information Age Publishers. She is a former public school teacher and administrator. She continues to work with aspiring and seated leaders in public institutions for enhanced cultural competency and excellence in equity.

*This talk is geared towards educators*



Swift: From Algorithm to App in Record Time

Michael Rogers, Ph.D Northwest Missouri State University

9:00 AM Saturday – City Center B

In an action-packed presentation, participants will learn about the creation and evolution of Swift,an open-source language that is used to power iOS (among other platforms). Learn why you might want to add this language to your repertoire, and see how it can be used to create apps in record time!

Dr. Michael Rogers is an Associate Professor in the School of Computer Science and Information Systems at Northwest Missouri State University, where he teaches a myriad of Computer Science courses, including Mobile Computing on both Android and iOS platforms. He has published five apps in The App Store, with a sixth on the way!



An Introduction to Cross-Platform Apps using Microsoft Xamarin

Tiffany Ford, Ed.D Ozarks Technical Community College

10:00 AM Saturday – City Center B

When considering how to build iOS and Android applications, many people think that the native languages, Objective-C, Swift, and Java, are the only choice. However, over the past few years, an entire new ecosystem of platforms for building mobile applications has emerged. Xamarin is unique in this space by offering a single language – C#, class library, and runtime that works across all three mobile platforms of iOS, Android, and Windows Phone, while still compiling native (non-interpreted) applications that are performant enough even for demanding games.

In this session you will get an introduction to the fundamentals of the platform, an understanding of the pros and cons to Xamarin, and become familiar enough to start your own Xamarin projects.

For as long as she can remember, Tiffany Ford has been taking things apart and figuring out how things worked. Her father purchased a computer when she was young to help with the family’s marina at the lake of the Ozarks, and she was fascinated by it. She taught herself some basic HTML and programming as a teenager.

The internet opened up doors to both endless possibilities and a thriving career. She worked as a part-time tutor for computer programming in the Tutoring and Learning Center from 2003-2005. After graduating from OTC in 2005, she worked in freelance website development and desktop application programming before working as a desktop deployment systems administrator in OTC’s Information Technology department in 2006.

She returned to teaching others about technology as a full-time faculty member in Computer Information Science in 2008, and in 2012, she became department chair. She received associate’s degrees in Computer Information Technology and Internet Application Development in 2005. Then, she went on to complete her Bachelor of Science in Technology Management from Missouri State University in 2007. She went on to earn her Master’s of Science in Career and Technology Education within an emphasis in Teaching Leadership in 2010 and her Doctorate in Education with an emphasis in instructional leadership in 2015 from Lindenwood University. Currently, she teaches a variety of classes each semester, ranging from first-year programming courses to overseeing capstone classes.



Sarah Withee headshotPursuing a Passion Project: Struggles and Successes

Sarah Withee

11:00 AM Saturday – City Center B

In 2016, I had a variety of small ideas that ended up combining together into a new project: Finding a way to amplify the voices of the underrepresented groups in tech. I decided to start off with a podcast. After 7 months of fighting technology, fighting life battles, and fighting imposter syndrome, I released the first episode.

Along the way, I’ve learned a lot of things about connecting with people and communities, pursing my passions, and starting a very large project. I will share how I went from a vague idea to creating and releasing this new media to the public. I’ll also talk some of the technical aspects that I go through to pull off an average episode of the show. Finally, you’ll see how ultimately my passion drove this project to success.

Sarah Withee is a polyglot software engineer, public speaker, teacher and mentor, and hardware and robot tinkerer located in Kansas City, MO. She has a passion for technology, and has ever since she wrote her first computer programs in elementary school. She captivates audiences with both popular and powerful technical and anecdotal talks. She gives workshops to teach programming and hardware building to women in tech, as well as to students of all ages. She’s mentored middle and high school robotics teams to world championships. She’s even helped organize four conferences (including multiple MINKWIC conferences), been on a Google Year in Search video, and started the viral hashtag #SpeakerConfessions.

She passionately tries to connect with people and communities, both online and offline, and encourage and support new people going in tech. She even started a podcast to try to help boost underrepresented groups in tech.