Dr. Siobahn Day Grady knows the value of STEM role models. In a recent interview on the Rex Podcast, she reflected that growing up she saw her mother work at IBM. Later, Grady graduated with her degree in computer science and later went back to complete her Ph.D. in Computer Science from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. She later pursued work as a professor after she realized that she loved technology but also loved working with people.
Her doctorate focused on artificial intelligence, which surrounds us on a daily basis. Her research focused on machine learning and social media. Specifically, she focused on misinformation. Since then, she has expanded her machine learning to identify faults in autonomous vehicles. Her ongoing research in artificial intelligence is especially impactful due to her dedication to providing computer science education and role models for diverse communities.
Dr. Grady also serves as an AAAS If/Then ambassador, which she describes as a passion. because she sees it as an opportunity to expand representation. She believes empowering underserved communities is one way to provide opportunities for more individuals to learn about technology and artificial intelligence. Dr. Grady explained that technology is a tool, but it is important to empower others to understand how technology can both be a helpful resource and cause potential harm. One example, she explained, is data. Empowering underserved communities empowers individuals to understand what personal data they may be giving away and what the usage terms and policies impact them on a daily basis.
Dr. Grady created the STEM-It-Yourself community that partners with a local sorority to provide middle school girls with an additional opportunity to become exposed to computer science and to learn about computer science skills. Dr. Grady emphasized that programs such as this one provides students with STEM models that look like them and open doors to futures in computer science. Right now, the program is a pilot study, but she hopes that the research attached to the program can serve as a blueprint for other organizations who are hoping to create programs.
Rex Academy also hopes to provide diverse populations with access to computer science education. Unfortunately, with a nationwide shortage of computer science teachers, it can be difficult for students to access computer science courses. Rex Academy provides schools, parents, and students with a fully developed curriculum that engages students even without a computer science expert in the room. By providing innovative solutions to computer science education, greater access and empowerment is possible.