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SPR Salutes Ada Lovelace During Women’s History Month

SPR held a happy hour March 4 to unveil the result of a year-long project – our 3D-printed bust of Ada Lovelace, the first computer programmer.

“This piece of art on display in the office serves as a reminder of the diversity and support of women in technology here at SPR, as well as around the world,” said CTO Matt Mead at the unveiling.

The event also featured guest speaker Andie Berry, a Duke-trained engineer and board member TechForward, ITA’s philanthropic arm, who shared about how being a woman in tech has changed since Ada's era: “Here, the woman who helped facilitate the internet, never knew she would one day be a Wiki entry,” Andie noted.

During her talk, Andie reflected on the historic moment that Ada ran her first program and invited us all to similarly take part in the historic conversations about diversity and inclusion that are currently happening in our society. “We are extraordinary people, living extraordinary history,” Andie said.

 

She shared career anecdotes and challenged us to enter into difficult conversations, noting that it is only through adversity that we will grow.

3D Ada: How it all began

So, how exactly did we get to this point? How did a finished 3D print of an historic woman in technology evolve?

 

Apart from building brilliant solutions, SPR’s secret sauce is our commitment to diversity and inclusion. One of our core beliefs is to “Be the Difference” – which we practice throughout the year by bringing technology to underrepresented areas of our community.

 

This past year, we flipped the script and also focused on fostering conversations about women in technology inside our office walls. We kicked off this initiative in March 2018 by inviting all SPR employees to take part in a crowdsourced, 3D-printed bust of Ada Lovelace, the first computer scientist.

In similar fashion to community print projects, where individuals volunteer to print a piece of a puzzle, we invited everyone at SPR to sign up to print a section of her face. We recruited 20 colleagues to sign up for a puzzle piece. Depending on the size of the piece, each piece took from 4 to 30 hours to print. After 684 hours of printing, SPR’s likeness of Ada was complete and standing more than 2.5 feet tall.

Who is Ada Lovelace?

While we were waiting for Ada to print, we circulated articles about the now famous computer scientist. Ada was the daughter of the creative but boisterous Lord Byron, a poet. While growing up, Ada’s mother encouraged her to study math to avoid following in her father’s footsteps. When she was 17, Ada became friends with Charles Babbage, the man who created the Analytical Engine. Ada took interest in his machine and took his project a step further; she wrote an article about the engine and translated it into what would be the first ever computer program.

We’re excited to display Ada in our Chicago office. It is our small way of celebrating all of the strong, powerful and brilliant women out in the world and in our very own lives — and not just in March, but everyday too.