Jill Bender Chosen for CoE Distinguished Leadership Award

Jill Bender Enlarge
Jill Bender

Jill Bender, an undergraduate student in Computer Science, has received a 2014 College of Engineering Distinguished Leadership Award for her outstanding leadership and service to the College and community.

Jill has been highly involved in Women in Science and Engineering, where she has coached the WISE-sponsored, all girls First Lego League robotics team (the MGoBlueBots) for three years.

According to Jill, “The MGoBlueBots team is typically composed of 15-20 girls ages 11-14 who meet weekly each season to build and program a Lego Mindstorms robot to score points on a themed playing field for that season. The girls must also do research on the topic for the season, such as natural disasters or food safety, and come up with an innovative and creative solution for a problem they see. During all of this, we emphasize First Lego League Core Values including such values like teamwork, ‘kids do the work,’ and the importance of fun!” Throughout each season, Jill plans and runs the team practices and prepares her team for tournaments, which are all-day events on Saturdays that are filled with fun and plenty of challenges.

Jill has also been an Instructional Assistant for EECS 183, Elementary Programming Concepts, where she has enjoyed the opportunity to reach students as they first enter computer science and to encourage inclusion and diversity in the field. She is passionate about teaching and engaging students in thinking about the possibilities for impact in computer science.

Jill was the President of the Living Arts Programming Board, a creative community that inspires and encourages collaboration between artists, musicians, actors, architects and engineers, in Fall 2011 and Winter 2012. She was the CSE Scholars Corporate Relations Officer in Winter 2013, and Secretary in Fall 2012. Jill has served as a WISE Peer Mentor for a group of women who are just starting their journey in computer science, as a Microsoft Intern Ambassador Peer Mentor, and as a Living Arts Residence Program Peer Mentor. She is a student member of the North American Network Operators Group (NANOG).

Jill will graduate in May and will join Microsoft as a Program Manager this Fall.