Go to PittsburghLIVE
MyPghLIVE Members: Login , Join Now, Subscribe 

Site Index

Check your email Helpdesk
Contact Us
RSS Feed
Site Tools
Site Map
Advanced Search

Pgh. Tribune-Review
Valley News Dispatch
Daily Courier
Valley Independent
Leader Times
The Herald
Blairsville Dispatch
KQV Radio
Gateway Newspapers
Pittsburgh Pennysaver

ShoppingClassifiedsDiscussion BoardsLiving/StyleThings to doOpinion & CommentarySportsLocal NewsPghLIVE.com
Home Search Advanced Search

Monday, November 22, 2004
Trib PM Back to headlines
Larger text Larger Text Smaller Text Smaller Text

Don't call them geeks


Photo Gallery

click to enlarge

Boyana Norris (left) and Masha Sosonkina

Joe Appel/Tribune-Review

click to enlarge

Matthias Merz

Joe Appel/Tribune-Review

click to enlarge

Chansup Byun

Joe Appel/Tribune-Review

Print this article
E-mail this article
Subscribe to this paper
Larger text Larger / Smaller Text


By Alyson Walls
Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Matthias Merz, a researcher at the University of Mannheim in Germany, laughed and said he's familiar with the term.

"Germans also call it 'nerd'," he said. "But no one ever called me that. I have a lot of other interests. Computers are only one part of who I am."

Scanning his laptop before making a presentation at the SC2004 Supercomputing Conference at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown, Merz is one of hundreds of computer engineers and analysts from throughout the United States and the world descending upon the city this week.

The conference, which also landed in Pittsburgh in 1996, is a mecca for anyone who remembers toying with a Commodore 64, Apple IIE or Atari.

Although they don't quite qualify as metrosexual, today's techies have largely shed their "Revenge of the Nerds" persona.

When he's not busy monitoring the University of Pittsburgh's Super Computer, Joseph Lappa, a network engineer, enjoys blowing glass and biking at Ohiopyle State Park.

No, he isn't glued to the screen on off days, thank you.

"I try to avoid it," he joked.

OK, so they use words like clusterwall, interface and terabyte; we'll forgive them. Bill Gates isn't exactly a hunk, but he is the richest man in the world.

According to the Bureau or Labor Statistics, the median annual earnings of computer software engineers are about $70,900. For software publishers, earnings are $76,450 and for scientific research and development services, earnings jump to $82,270.

The conference, which ends Friday, is expected to draw thousands of participants from government, industry and research institutions in 45 states and 45 countries.

Sorry, guys. You're not likely to spot Sandra Bullock chasing down cyber terrorists. This assembly more closely resembles Matthew Broderick, a la "War Games."

Boyana Norris of Chicago and Masha Sosonkina of Iowa, were among the few women attending the conference.

The two software engineers were preparing to present a lecture on their latest research.

"I think there is a lot more encouragement for girls to get into this field," Norris said. "But I always had construction-type toys. I was always building things, so that must have made a difference."

Both women attended high schools which concentrated on math and science.

"I was in a high school of nerds, so it didn't matter," Norris said.

Sosonkina added, "I never minded. It was always cool to know more than the other students."

So ladies, instead of heading out to the same old smoky bars for happy hour this week, consider working it at the supercomputing conference.

Alyson Walls can be reached at awalls@tribweb.com or (412) 320-5638.

Back to headlines

Click here for advertising information || List all Advertisers

Subscribe to the Newspaper

Images and text copyright 2004 by The Tribune-Review Publishing Co.
Reproduction or reuse prohibited without written consent from PittsburghLIVE.
Feedback | Report a Bug | Advertise with us | List all advertisers
Contact Us | Make us your homepage | Terms of Service