A tribute to overlooked trailblazers

Computer science pioneers on Lind Hall Diversity Wall

Almost a year since its unveiling, the glass-encased images on the Lind Hall Diversity Wall still have the ability to stop passersby in their tracks.  

There’s a Heroic Electronic Brain cartoon. There’s a photo of film star Hedy Lamar, who pioneered the technology that forms the basis for today’s WIFI, GPS, and Bluetooth systems. There is also one that brings to mind actor Benedict Cumberbatch; he starred as WWII code breaker Alan Turing in The Imitation Game. Turing, who appears on panel, is a founding father of AI.

Shana Watters, a teaching professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Minnesota, spearheaded the project. The goal was to commemorate the history of computer science and to highlight those whose contributions were not properly recognized. 

“This wall is a true representation of our field,” Watters said. “That includes all the people that were involved, not just the representation of what we've always considered to be the majority. 

The wall has three panels. The third one is largely dedicated to those affiliated with the University of Minnesota—both professors and alumni.

Read the full story, and see each image up close, on the CS&E department website.

Posted Jan. 9, 2024