The Center for Minorities and People with Disabilities in Information Technology (CMD-IT) announced School of Interactive Computing Chair Ayanna Howard as the winner of the Richard A. Tapia Achievement Award for Scientific Scholarship, Civic Science and Diversifying Computing.

“Ayanna Howard has been a leading innovator and researcher in the fields of robotics, computer vision, and artificial intelligence,” said Valerie Taylor, CMD-IT CEO and President. “Applications of her work have included the development of assistive robots in the home, therapy gaming apps, and remote exploration of extreme environments.”

“Throughout her career she has focused on bringing girls, underrepresented minorities, and people with disabilities into computing through programs related to robotics. Ayanna’s focus on engaging people with disabilities resulted in the creation of Zyrobotics, LLC., which provides inclusive mobile technologies that make learning accessible.”

The Richard A. Tapia Award is awarded annually to an individual who demonstrates significant research leadership and strong commitment and contributions to diversifying computing. It will be presented at the 2018 ACM Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing Conference. Themed “Diversity: Roots of Innovation,” the Tapia Conference will be held Sept. 19-22, in Orlando, Florida.  The conference brings together students, faculty, researchers, and professionals from all backgrounds and ethnicities in computing to promote and celebrate diversity in computing. The Tapia Conference is sponsored by the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) and presented by CMD-IT.

The vision of CMD-IT is to contribute to the national need for an effective workforce in computing and IT through inclusive programs and initiatives focused on minorities and people with disabilities.

“CMD-IT is focused on improving engagement among diverse communities in computing,” Howard said. “This is something I have long considered among my missions as a researcher and an educator. To be recognized by such a wonderful organization is truly an honor.”

For more information and to register for the Tapia Conference, visit