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Powell’s Miller Receives NCWIT Computing Award at Women in Science Conference

May 27, 2015
woman presenting award to another woman
Moriah Miller (right), a Powell High School student, receives the NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing during the recent UW Women in Science Conference. Allyson Anderson, a UW senior lecturer in the Department of Computer Science, makes the presentation. (Michele Turner Photo)

Moriah Miller believes more women should be interested in pursuing careers in technology.

Miller, a senior at Powell High School, is the winner of the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) Award for Aspirations in Computing.

“Winning this award definitely solidified my passion for following a career in computer technology and computer science,” says Miller, who will attend the University of Wyoming in the fall and major in computer science and software development.

The Wyoming Affiliate Competition winner was recognized during a luncheon at UW’s Women in Science Conference May 19.

UW and Western Wyoming Community College, affiliates of the NCWIT awards, nominated three students from across Wyoming. The nominees were chosen based on their computing-related achievements and interests, solid leadership ability, good academic history and plans for post-secondary education.

Miller’s interest in computer science began during her freshman year, when she took a Web design class. She also joined the robotics team, and took over managing the content and design of the team’s website.

“My other major role on the robotics team was designing the buttons, mascot and team shirts,” Miller says. “I used a free app on the iPad to do all of the design work.”

Miller currently has a 4.0 GPA, has taken two semesters of computer science at Powell High School and enrolled in computer science classes at Northwest College last fall and this spring. She also played junior varsity tennis and participated in a self-defense class.

“Moriah is one of those students who truly tried to understand every concept I ever put forward,” says Judith LaPlante, Miller’s teacher in her computer science classes. “She was dedicated to completing her work and is the type of student who is willing to try an alternative to a solution if her first plan does not work out.”

LaPlante, who won the NCWIT Educator Award, described Miller as “one of those rare people who has a pretty good design sense and can code.”

“Mrs. LaPlante basically put me on the path I’m on. She was supportive,” Miller says. “She encouraged and pushed me to get out of my comfort zone. She’s definitely my mentor.”

Miller says she received a plaque with her name on it, a gift card and NCWIT merchandise, including a computer bag and a USB flash drive.

Madison Lehner, a senior at Douglas High School; and Shantelle Nalley, a senior at Powell High School, were the runners-up for the award.

NCWIT is a nonprofit community of more than 300 prominent corporations, academic institutions, government agencies and nonprofits that work to increase women’s participation in technology and computing.

The Women in Science Conference is designed to raise young women’s (grades 7-12) interest and excitement in science, technology, math and engineering (STEM) -- career fields typically dominated by men. Accomplished professional women discuss their experiences in these fields.

The conference was hosted by the Wyoming NASA Space Grant Consortium, which sponsors education and research programs in the state of Wyoming to support NASA goals. One of the goals of NASA and UW is to get more women and ethnic minorities involved in educational programs.

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