Software engineer Kesha Williams’ website describes her as a STEM advocate who is “passionate about emerging technology, innovation and mentoring; and empowering women, youth, and underrepresented groups of people.
Though Williams is a senior consultant, solution development for Chick-fil-A, her work doesn’t stop there, nor does it end when she comes home to her bustling household and three children.
With a B.S. in computer science and mathematics from Spelman College, and a master’s in information systems from the University of Phoenix, Williams has been immersed in a variety of professional, entrepreneurial, and volunteer roles. She is an adjunct Java instructor for the University of California, Irvine; a speaker on such topics as machine learning and predictive policing; and is the founder of Colors of STEM, an online professional networking and platform designed to reduce the gender gap in STEM by connecting girls with professional STEM mentors. Williams is also chapter director for Technovation Georgia, and the inventor of both SAM — a predictive policing machine learning algorithm — and Live, Plan, Eat — an Amazon Alexa skill for meal planning.
SAM (Suspicious Activity Monitor) operates on a principle similar to the notion of pre-crime, the basis of the 2002 film Minority Report. With SAM, a person can tweet (@iamsam_tech) a picture of suspicious activity, which is then analyzed using computer vision and a machine learning examination of data from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
Williams intentionally eliminated race as an attribute in SAM’s analysis and prediction of criminal activity, thereby removing both conscious and unconscious racial bias from the model. She demonstrates the potential of machine learning algorithms to remove human biases, with the far- reaching implication of eradicating racial profiling from police work.
Who Are the Women Engineers We Should Know?
Quite often, those who are behind the scenes and out of the limelight make real change in the workplace and in our communities. It is our intention to recognize such women and make their efforts better known in our SWE Magazine series “Women Engineers You Should Know.”
Casting a wide net, SWE Magazine staff and editorial board members seek contemporary women whose lives have embodied the Society’s mission to: “Stimulate women to achieve full potential in careers as engineers and leaders, expand the image of the engineering profession as a positive force for improving the quality of life, and demonstrate the value of diversity.”
Through a variety of means, including fielding suggestions and conducting archival research, we will examine the stories of many women who have made a difference in these critical areas. Determining a final list is a daunting challenge, and our selections are in no way meant to be definitive. While some names you may recognize, many are not recognizable to most people. From a variety of perspectives, in different environments and moments in time, these women represent “ordinary” when doing “extraordinary” things. In saluting them, we are saluting all the women, known and unknown, past and present, who have advanced our mission.
Nominate women engineers to know for our next article. The deadline for nominations is Friday, December 28, 2018. Submit nominations here.
With each submission, please include the following.
- Nominee info: name, why her, links supporting your nomination, areas of expertise, where is she located
- Nominator info: name, email, how you know the nominee
Thanks for your help, and look for the Spring 2019 issue of SWE Magazine.