No one knows the value of a good support network like Tiffany Chang. As an undergraduate majoring in computer science and human-computer interaction, she was one of the founding student members of Women@SCS, which promotes academic and professional interaction for women in a field once dominated by men.
The leadership and encouragement of faculty members Lenore Blum and Carol Frieze was crucial to the group's early successes, Chang says. "They really made sure we had the resources we needed, and also helped spread the word." One of the organization's first outreach efforts sent SCS students into Pittsburgh area middle and high schools to encourage girls to consider careers in science and technology. Another matched female undergraduates with doctoral students to provide them with research mentors, Chang says.
"We wanted to make sure that women in the program felt comfortable asking questions," she says. "We had to make sure they knew they were part of a community that was bigger than them, and make sure they had access to the help and material they needed."
Chang's personal support network has remained strong since graduation. While working on her M.B.A. at Harvard last year, she needed to draft a business plan and was allowed to choose two outside people to help. Chang picked classmates from Carnegie Mellon--Brandon Weber (HS'03) and George Davis (CS'03,'07), currently a doctoral student in the Institute for Software Research.
"The network you build at Carnegie Mellon is invaluable," Chang says. "The people I met there were some of the smartest people I know."
Currently a manager for Palo Alto, Calif.-based VMWare, a developer of virtual machine software, Chang says combining business school training with a computer science degree has provided her with a powerful career combination.
"Technology now is so pervasive that literally anything you want to do would have some computer science in it," she says. "I've never regretted doing it. It's a great base for anything you want to do in the future."
Jason Togyer | 412-268-8721 | jt3y [atsymbol] cs.cmu.edu