Two UCSC students win award from CITRIS

Two undergraduates have won a top award from the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS).

The CITRIS White Paper Competition 2007 was organized by Tom Kalil, special assistant to the chancellor for science and technology at UC Berkeley, to tap the creativity of UC students who want to help translate basic research into projects that have a direct positive impact on society. Six proposals were recognized with a prize, including a cash award.

Christina Hamill and Julie Caso, both fellows of UCSC's Global Information Internship Program (GIIP), won the Special Prize for Best Use of IT for Rural America for their proposal to offer a joint summer institute on information technology and social enterprise for underrepresented students at UC.

Their $5,000 cash prize will help fund their proposed Summer of Service Technology Institute, a five-day tech camp for youth leaders from the Digitally Abled Producers Project (D@PP) of the Central San Joaquin Valley. Participants will receive an introduction to college life and hands-on instruction in technical skills for social change.

"Christina and Julie were the only women who won a top prize, so we at GIIP are doing our part to bolster gender equity in technology," said GIIP director Paul Lubeck, a professor of sociology.

The Summer of Service Technology Institute is a collaborative effort of UCSC undergraduates, GIIP, and the Center for Multicultural Cooperation (CMC). Hamill and Caso developed their proposal in collaboration with UCSC alumni at the CMC, which was founded by two former GIIP coordinators, Maryjane Skjellerup and Brandon Wright.

The awards were presented May 7 at a ceremony at UC Berkeley during which students each gave a 5-minute overview of their proposal. Other winners included a proposal to help motorized wheelchair users achieve universal access, a proposal to use telemicroscopy in disease diagnosis, and a proposed direct person-to-person charity for natural disaster relief.