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Speak, Share, and Inspire at NERD Summit 2020!

Call for Proposals

Are you knowledgeable or passionate about a topic you’d like to share at NERD Summit 2020? Would you like to gain public speaking experience in a supportive environment? How about inspiring folks new to the software development field, especially those who might feel under-represented?

Consider dedicating some part of your presentation to themes of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Also, we invite you to reach out to colleagues who might not otherwise present to encourage them to respond to the call for proposals: you can sometimes make a big difference with just a word or a nudge.

Check out ideas from each track and submit your proposal here for March TDB NERD Summit 2020!

Deadline for submissions: January 12, 2020, at 11:59pm

Design & User Experience

This year’s design track will focus on educating attendees by sharing innovative techniques in the world of branding, digital design, and UX/UI. With sessions and workshops led by local industry leaders, attendees will leave with a clearer understanding of the latest trends and best practices within design, including:

  • HTML/CSS for designers

  • Inclusive design/accessibility tips and best practices

  • The importance of pattern/component libraries and how to prepare them effectively

  • Collaboration with team leaders, clients, and developers

  • Designing (and troubleshooting) user experiences

  • Submit your own idea for a topic related to design

Project & Business Management

We’re looking for speakers with expertise in adding value to organizations "on time and on budget." If you juggle resources, deadlines and goals, we invite you to submit a proposal. Topics may include:

  • Methodologies (Agile, PMBOK, hybrid, etc)

  • Analytics and reporting

  • Women in IT

  • Team management

  • Emotional intelligence

  • PM tools (Slack, Jira, Wrike, Trello, Basecamp, Asana, LiquidPlanner, Zoho, spreadsheets)

  • And more! (We’re open to your ideas and interests)


Dev Ops is about people working together to build, evolve, and run software systems. As we have more and more tools at our disposal that enable us to automate and monitor processes throughout the software development life cycle, the lines between software development and traditional systems administration have blurred. As part of NERD Summit's inaugural DevOps track, we'll be focusing on topics that will help you streamline your development workflows to improve your team's velocity and your product's reliability, so that you can deliver features faster, minimize downtime, and remove error prone manual steps.

The DevOps track will focus on topics like:

  • Release and testing automation

  • Containerization/Infrastructure as Code

  • Effective Test Strategies

  • Local Development Stacks

  • Microservice vs Monolith

  • Monitoring and Feedback Loops

Some tools we might be talking about this year:

  • Docker

  • Kubernetes

  • Terraform

  • [your favorite test framework]

  • [your favorite CI toolset]

  • [your favorite monitoring tool]

Backend Development

The Backend Development track focuses on developers' techniques, tools, and mindsets to achieve success from simple apps to complex performant scaling apps. We are open to sessions in any language or framework. Here is a non-exhaustive list: Backdrop, Drupal, Go, Javascript/NodeJS, Laravel, Joomla, WordPress, Python, Ruby, Database Architecture.

Sessions might cover topics like:

  • Improve your tools:

    • Master your IDE/editor

    • Git for beginners

    • Git for masters

  • App/Site Architecture ~ setting up data models for success

  • Worker queues and non-blocking processes

  • PHP for Beginners (or any language)

  • Write your first Drupal Module! (or first anything)

  • High Traffic Apps ~ Performance Optimizations

These are just a few example topics that we think would be great. If you have other ideas to present on Backend app/site development by all means submit them!

Front End Development

The Front End Development track welcomes talks on a wide range of subjects and skill levels. From beginners and basics to advanced topics, tooling and beyond, we encourage everyone interested to submit a session proposal.

Topics may include:

  • New features in HTML 5 and CSS 3

  • Accessibility and SEO best practices

  • Creating and working with component libraries or design systems.

  • JavaScript frameworks such as React.js, Vue and Angular

  • Languages and frameworks that compile to JavaScript such as ClojureScript, Reason ML, or Elm.

  • Tooling libraries like Webpack, Gulp and Parcel

  • Web Assembly

  • Working with GraphQL and other backend services

Fun with Code

Did you deliver all your software features this week? Who cares! This track is all about having fun, finding inspiration, and sharing the magic of creating something new. We will celebrate the funny, the unexpected, and the beautiful. We welcome frivolous and inspiring proposals from everyone, including folks just getting started. Sample topics might include:

  • Approaches to generative art.

  • Minecraft mods that connect to the real world.

  • Teaching Alexa a new joke.

  • A live coding audio performance and tutorial.

  • Quines and code obfuscation.

  • An indie game developers journey.

  • Computational Poetry.

  • Engaging programming environments for children.

  • Tales from the demoscene.

Our Mission:

NERD Summit began with a focus on women in information technology. The 2014 keynote "Women in IT and How We Can All Make Our Industry Better" was by Ashe Dryden, a national expert on equity and inclusion. She spoke eloquently about how to change tech culture, decrease barriers to entry, and recognize that creating an environment by-and-for the majority, may not serve minorities well—or at all.

Fast-forward to 2018: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are a key focus of the College of Natural Sciences, our host for NERD Summit in the Integrated Learning Center at UMass Amherst. We acknowledge it's appropriate for NERD Summit to reflect on how far we've come and how far we still have to go. We particularly invite sessions to reflect on these themes to make clear that diversity, equity, and inclusion are parts of the landscape that IT must consider and creating a welcoming community is a task for all of us.

Submission deadline is January 12, 2020, at 11:59pm.

NERD Summit 2020 is March TBD located at UMASS/Amherst.


If you have questions where the answers might benefit others in the community, try our Questions area.

See and ask Questions here →
See more ways to join in here → 
Join our Facebook page and get the conversation going

More info

How long is a session?

Sessions are 45 minutes long. That length will be strictly enforced to allow adequate time for the next speaker to setup and for attendees to get to their next session.

We recommend 35 minutes of speaking, followed by a 10 minute Q&A period. Make sure to time your session! And leave some extra time (e.g. 5 minutes). An example of a well-planned session would be: 30 minutes of speaking + 5 minutes cushion + 10 minutes Q&A = 45 minutes.


If you would like to do a longer session, such as a training, please contact us at: [email protected]


We do not currently have the budget to pay for travel or lodging expenses, so please keep that in mind if you live far away from Amherst, MA.

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