Reflections Projections

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Reflections | Projections
Reflections Projections 2020.png
GenreTechnology, computing
VenueSiebel Center for Computer Science, Digital Computer Laboratory
Location(s)Urbana, Illinois
CountryUnited States
Attendance2000+ (2018)
Organized byAssociation for Computing Machinery, UIUC student chapter
Filing statusNon-profit

Reflections | Projections (stylized as Reflections | Projections and shortened to R|P) is an annual technology-related conference hosted by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign student chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery (also known as ACM). The conference has been held in October or November each year since 1995 and is the largest, entirely student-run technology conference in the Midwest. It features two job fairs, numerous guest speakers from various fields in computing, technology and occasionally webcomics, as well as an AI programming competition, MechMania. One of the main goals of the event is to bring together midwestern ACM chapters. However, the event also open to students who are not members of ACM. General admission to the event is free, with students from a variety of schools attending the event to learn about new innovations in computer science through various workshops and tech-talks.


Reflections | Projections began as the 1995 Midwestern ACM Chapter Conference. The conference was originally held in the Digital Computer Laboratory but has since moved most of its operations to the Siebel Center for Computer Science. A job fair was incorporated into the conference in 1996. Other events that have been part of the conference have included movie showings, workshops, barbecues, as well as an evening social. Early instances of the conference included registration fees for general attendance, though the conference is now free.

Conference timeline[edit]

Alexis Ohanian, founder of Reddit
Alexis Ohanian, founder of Reddit, at Reflections❘Projections in 2009


Reflections | Projections developed rapidly during its inception in 1995, bringing both student and professional chapters together to discuss how far technology has come in recent years and where it is going. The first conference featured Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple Inc., as its keynote speaker. The conference's first sponsors included Andersen Consulting, Citrix Systems, Enterprise Integration Technology, O'Reilly & Associates, Silicon Graphics, and Symantec.


The second conference also used the "reflections, projections" theme. It included keynote speeches by representatives from Spyglass, Inc. and Be Inc. as well as general talks by local UIUC presenters. Sponsors for the 1996 conference included AMD, Boeing, Citrix Systems, Cray Research, Intel, Northrop Grumman, Symantec and others.


The 1997 conference was sponsored by Abbott Laboratories, Andersen Consulting, Silicon Graphics, Boeing, John Deere, Green Hills Software, HP, InstallShield, Intel, Microsoft, the NSA, State Farm, Symantec, and Tellabs. The conference included talks on OpenGL, web commerce, and the Y2K bug.


The 1998 conference was the first to bear the name "Reflections | Projections". Corporate sponsors included Wolfram Research, Crowe Chizek, Abbott Laboratories, Motorola, Lucent Technologies, PricewaterhouseCoopers, as well as Microsoft, HP, Allstate, Lockheed Martin and TRW.


Topics for the 1999 conference included OpenBSD, artificial intelligence and open-source software with talks by Eric Allman, Guido van Rossum and others.

Reflections | Projections continued to grow after the .com boom, in 2001 R|P featured a workshop in Perl and Windows. 2001 was a big year for R|P. The conference grew to a grow in size and scope, eventually taking on the title of the National Student ACM Conference. With 350 students from 12 universities and supported by 45 corporate sponsors, ACM R|P had approximately 14 individual lectures, panel discussions, and workshops that will address the past, present, and future of computing!


The 2001 conference included a keynote talk by Fred Brooks, as well as general talks by John Draper, and Alexy Pajitnov. This conference also included workshops on Windows and Perl.


The 2002 conference included a PGP key signing party, talks by Michael Hart, Ian Murdock, Marcus Brinkmann, and Hal Berghel. Sponsors included Allstate and Microsoft, as well as Abbott Laboratories, Argonne National Laboratory, Lucent Technologies, Lockheed Martin and the NSA.


2003 was the year of cryptography, security and multimedia! A puzzle hack final party, and an exhilarating talk on “Picking Locks with Cryptology” by Matt Blaze, were only two of the many attractions at R|P 2003. Along with all this, Barbara Simons, the ACM national lecturer, gave a talk on Computerized and Internet voting! The ninth annual conference also had a creative portion, where undergraduates were invited to submit research projects or ideas to present in the form of a poster. The projects were along the lines of open-source development, independent study, & semester group projects.

Conference Highlights: Computer Security Panel, computer viruses, and forensic computing! What's new: Tetris Game design & philosophy, computer security panel, hacker ethics.


Reflections | Projections expanded a lot in this time period by branching out to a wider variety of companies, many of which were new and growing rapidly at the time. Jawed Karim, Jeffrey Altman, Burnie Burns, and Max Levchin are only a handful of the inspiring people that make R|P 2006 a huge success. With Max Levchin, the cofounder of PayPal, sharing his wisdom on being an entrepreneur while in college; Jawed Karim, the co-founder of YouTube, taking us through his journey on YouTube as a concept to the hypergrowth that it has seen today; and many more inspiring stories. Some of the inspiring speakers included: Adrian Bowyer, Burnie Burns, Robert X. Cringely, Chris DiBona, Jawed Karim, Max Levchin, Yale Patt, Joel Spolsky, Phil Foglio, Kaja Foglio, Randall Munroe, Gary McGraw, Jon Stokes, Eric Traut, Jeffrey Ullman.


Back with a different, more vibrant color scheme, the R|P 2007 logo is not the only new thing about the conference. The 13th annual computing conference on October 12–14, brought together some of the great minds of today and yesterday. With 19 speakers from across the country, from industry and academia, two programming competitions from Yahoo! and in-house developers (MechMania), and a job fair, the conference ended with flying colors.


Sponsors for the 2008 conference included Bloomberg, Caterpillar Inc., Cerner, Citadel LLC, Facebook, Intel, Microsoft, Navteq, Northrop Grumman, the NSA, Nvidia, Raytheon, Sun Microsystems, SpaceX, VMware, Yahoo and others. Speakers included Al Aho, Jeff Bonwick, Scott Draves, Rands, David Roundy, Dave Thomas, William Townsend and Larry Wall.


Sponsors for the 2009 conference included Bank of America, Beckman Coulter, Bungie, Cerner, Facebook, General Electric, Infosys, Intel, LimeWire, Lockheed Martin, Microsoft, Northrop Grumman, the NSA, Palantir Technologies, Palm, Raytheon,, SpaceX, State Farm, ViaSat and VMware. Speakers included Alex Martelli, Bram Moolenaar,[9] Raymond Chen,[10] Ryan North, Douglas Crockford, Alexis Ohanian, Don Stewart,[11] Tony Chang[12] and Robert J. Lang.[13]


Sponsors for the 2010 conference included Alcatel-Lucent, Andreesen Horowitz, Bazaarvoice, Cerner, Chopper Trading, Country Financial, Facebook, Factset Research, General Electric, Palm, IGT, Infosys, Intel, Interactive Intelligence, Lockheed Martin, Medtronic, Microsoft, Orbitz, Palantir Technologies, Riverbed Technology,, Selerity, VMware, ViaSat, WMS Gaming, Wolverine Trading and Yelp. Speakers included Jeph Jacques,[14] George W. Hart, Aaron Swartz, and Stephen Wolfram.


This time period saw a lot of growth in the type of activities offered during the conference, and popularity of these events (most notably MechMania). 2015 was the year of innovation, entrepreneurship, and brilliance. With the startup fair offering hands-on experience and the ability to make an impact, students challenged themselves and learned faster than ever before. We had Alan Braverman (the co-founder of several startups including Xoom, Geni, Yammer, & The Giant Pixel Corporation), Greg Baugues (developer evangelist at Twilio,) Jerry Talton (CEO of Apropose), Winnie Cheng (Chief Data Scientist at Bankrateand), and many more inspirational speakers from all walks of life.


2017 marked a rebranding of the conference. A new logo was introduced, consisting of 4 overlapping circles. The ACM Symposium was also introduced, a place where undergraduate and graduate students could share their current research projects.


With the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic and schools moving remote, distance learning, the 2020 conference will be the first virtual conference in the history of Reflections | Projections. In place of job fairs, the conference is set to offer many more talks from speakers that hail from various industries. Speakers have backgrounds in technology, research, Human and Social Impact, entrepreneurship, and more.

Past speakers[edit]


Running alongside guest speaker presentations at the conference is an artificial intelligence programming competition called MechMania. The competition typically attracts student groups from neighboring universities. MechMania is usually funded by a corporate sponsor which provides monetary prizes to the victors. During the opening ceremony of the conference, participants are presented with the rules to a game for which they must build an AI. Teams have twelve hours after this presentation to formulate a strategy and 24 hours to write and submit their solutions. Final judging for the competition has varied but usually involves a tournament bracket. Sponsors for the competition have included Google, Microsoft, O'Reilly & Associates,, Dropbox, Palantir, and others.

Notable sponsors[edit]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]