Thursday, June 04

Brookdale Newsroom

Technical Guru Speaks to Students about Careers

Voice recognition technology expert Dr. Susan Boyce recently spoke with members of the Computer Science and Women in Engineering Science and Technology clubs to share her professional story with its members at a recent club meeting.

This event is the first of many to be co-sponsored by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) and various science clubs, which will give a behind-the-scenes look at careers through the eyes of industry professionals in the fields of science and mathematics. The goal of the partnership between the AAUW and Brookdale is to promote leadership skills in students and raise awareness of issues affecting women. Presentations for this semester will focus on helping women succeed in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematic fields. The presentations are open to all students, regardless of gender.

Boyce, the first expert to offer her professional resources through this partnership, is a member of AAUW and has worked locally as an engineer for Bell Labs and AT&T. She worked with her colleagues to develop technology that enables gadgets to recognize human speech. She eventually ended up in Silicon Valley doing consulting work for fortune 500 companies. Most recently she and her team worked to design voice and body movement technology for the Xbox Kinect™ as well as a spoken dialog prototype that was acquired by Apple.

During her presentation to club members, Boyce illustrated the intricacies necessary to cause devices to recognize voice commands. “There are many complexities in speech recognition technology, one of which is the fact that the English language has a lot of words and nearly an infinite number of ways to combine them,” she explained.

For weeks at a time, members of her team collected voice samples throughout the United States from women and men of various age groups, accents and races. The audio would then be spliced and entered into a database which would be stored into computer software. This is only the beginning phase of enabling the recognition aspect for software that is used in the cars, phones, and even gaming systems we utilize on a daily basis.

In addition to sharing career experiences, Boyce offered to mentor students. “My career was greatly influenced by mentors along the way and the most enjoyable part of the later years of my professional life was mentoring young team members,” she said.

Crystal Jennings an Electrical Engineering major shared her views on the event, “Dr. Boyce’s presentation was very professional and informative, and I am also interested in mentorship opportunity.”

Matt Plunket who is studying computer science and will be graduating this May 2013 stated, “This event was very informative and gave me a unique look at the behind-the-scenes view of working in technology.”

For more information about the liaison between the American Association of University Women and Brookdale contact Shauna Channer at 732-224-2705, or schanner@brookdalecc.edu.