DEWIS symposium highlights technology and ethics

With a halo of palm trees behind her as she Skyped in from California into this year’s DEWIS symposium, Ilse Oosterlaken looked pleasantly surprised to hear that she’d won the 2013 DEWIS award, narrowly winning over three other nominees, Laura Anitori, Elham Ashoori and Femke van Wageningen-Kessels.

The nominees are all recent female cum laude PhD recipients whose work was also deemed outstanding due to its international/societal focus and the originality of its research question and approach. Speaking to the great challenge of deciding who would receive the award, as committee chair Professor Karel Luyben said, “it’s impossible…TU Delft is very proud of them all.”

DEWIS (Delft Women In Science) hosted its 2013 symposium, “Design Technology and Ethics” on October 8 2013 in the Aula. Before the awards ceremony, Dr. Anne Nigten spoke about her organization The Patching Zone and Professor Elisa Giaccardi spoke about understanding the role of values in designing interactive systems. Nigten founded and directs The Patching Zone, whose projects include the Mediawharf initiative in South Rotterdam and Zoetermeer’s Digital Art Lab.  The organization is a trans-disciplinary research lab which espouses the innovation concept. Nigten described this concept as “a framework for creativity” that allows young people to embrace science and art simultaneously, navigating smoothly between the artistic and scientific perspectives. “We work a lot with youngsters as our drivers,” Nigten explained, “we notice that our approach is very close to their popular culture.”

In her lecture “Things We Value,” Giaccardi shifted the focus from connecting different fields to connecting people. She described her talk as “a personal account of how I deal with values in relation to technology,” and rooted the discussion in a description of her project “Silence of the Lands” in Boulder, Colorado. In this project, Boulder residents on opposite sides of a land debate used a “suite of technologies” to create and share “soundscapes.” This technology-enabled process, Giaccardi said, gave people “an expanded structure of conversation” through which they gained deeper connection and increased listening skills which catalysed thinking about “how we can mobilize values through interactive technologies.” Giaccardi is a full professor of interactive media design, and a TU Delft technology fellow.

Founded in 2006, DEWIS is TU Delft’s community for women scientists. Led by a core team of five professors, the group remains alert to the presence of women at the university and monitors the career advancement of female staff members. “I think it needs care and attention, like everything else that’s important in life,” said Professor Isabel Arends, DEWIS chairperson. “We cannot neglect half of the potential,” she said, adding that proportionate female representation is crucial to the TU’s ideal of “multidisciplinarity in teams.” Each year DEWIS presents its award to one particularly outstanding female recent PhD recipient and award recipients receive a €500 prize. The group also actively engages in discussion on this topic with deans and encourages networking among the university’s female scientists.

DEWIS award 2013 nominees

Nominee: Dr. Laura Anitori

Faculty: CEG (Civil Engineering and Geosciences)

Thesis title: ‘Compressive Sensing and Fast Simulations:  Applications to Radar Detection’

Nominee: Dr. Elham Ashoori

Faculty: CEG (Civil Engineering and Geosciences)

Thesis title: ‘Foam for Enhanced Oil Recovery:  Modeling and Analytical Solutions’

Nominee and award recipient: Dr. Ilse Oosterlaken

Faculty: TPM (Technology, Policy and Management)

Thesis title: ‘Taking a Capability Approach to Technology and Its Design; A Philosophical Exploration’

Nominee: Dr. Femke van Wageningen-Kessels

Faculty: CEG (Civil Engineering and Geosciences)

Thesis title: ‘Multi-class Continuum Traffic Flow Models; Analysis and Simulation Methods’

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