Tuesday, 10 October 2023 14:13

Ada Lovelace Day

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Today is Ada Lovelace Day (ALD), an international celebration of the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). It aims to increase the profile of women in STEM and, in doing so, create new role models who will encourage more girls into STEM careers and support women already working in STEM.

Ada has a unique back story. Born in 1815, she is the daughter of Lord Byron (the famous English writer), although he wasn’t around much in her life due to his scandalous lifestyle choices (rumor has it, he was a bit of a rogue!) 

Because of this, Ada’s mother, Anne Isabella Noel Byron, steered her away from the arts and literature, fearing her daughter might become outrageous like her father if she fell down this path. Anne pushed Ada to focus more on mathematics and science studies. At the time, Ada’s academic route was very unique, after all this is a time when women were rarely educated, especially in STEM subjects. Needless to say, she became a math geek! 

At the age of eighteen, through the upper class social circles she was exposed to, she met the inventor and mathematician Charles Babbage. Their friendship blossomed through their love and appreciation of mathematics, problem solving and logic. 

One of Charles’s most impactful inventions was the analytical engine, a proposed mechanical general-purpose computer. Although he never fully built this (due to a fall out with the lead engineer and lack of funding), Charles asked Ada to translate an article by the military engineer Luigi Menabrea (later Prime Minister of Italy) about the Analytical Engine. Ada worked on this from the ages of 27 and 28, she supplemented Luigi’s original work with an elaborate set of seven notes, simply called "Notes". Lovelace's notes are important in the early history of computers, especially since the seventh one contained what many consider to be the first computer program, that is, an algorithm designed to be carried out by a machine. 

It is for this reason and Ada’s early contribution to the development of a technology most of us take for granted these days that we have Ada Lovelace Day.

Initially founded in 2009, ALD started as a “day of blogging” to champion and celebrate women in STEM. Today, ALD is celebrated globally and has become a multi-national event with conferences. 

It was this Kaupapa that Basesation’s own Tia Lush took heed and, while living in the UK, set up STEMFest in Peterborough, her then home town to engage with and inspire the next generation. 

It was at the 2016 ALD ‘Live’ London event when the idea of hosting a whānau friendly event in the middle of the cathedral town of Peterborough took form. At the end of ALD Live the call to action went out to “go back to your communities and do something for women in STEM.”  

The first Peterborough STEM Festival took place in 2016 and provided entertainment and engagement through engineering demos, inspiring women speakers, hands on science experiments, Minecraft challenges, retro computing, 3D robot printing as well as a load of competitions, prizes and awards. Proving to be a big hit - Peterborough STEMFest is still going strong.  When Tia relocated to Aotearoa, she brought the idea with her and founded Tauranga STEM Festival (STEMFest). 

Pretty humbling really to know that an event six years ago has gone on to inspire two annual STEM festivals in the UK and Aotearoa, which in turn, has inspired a generation of STEM enthusiasts. 

At Basestation, in homage to both Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage and their contribution to computing we have named one of our meeting rooms and our event space after these two pioneers. 

Contact us to book a meeting room or event space in Tauranga CBD, we’d love to host you at Basestation.

 

Read 226 times Last modified on Thursday, 16 November 2023 08:25

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