Every year I look forward to the costumes and general sights and sounds of Nerdi Gras, aka Dragon Con. I admit to making a costume or two of my own and have successfully talked my husband into joining the fun on occasion.

But fun and whimsy aside, Dragon Con couldn’t truly be Nerdi Gras without some quality panels and workshops. I’ve often attended and been in awe of some of the presenters’ “garage projects” (bar2d2 and the The Full Scale Millennium Falcon project to name a couple) but had never been on the presenting side until this year when I got to sit next to some of the most qualified and impressive women I’ve ever met.

Astronomer and well-known podcaster Dr. Pamela L. Gay moderated the panel that included NASA astronomer Trina Ray; NASA flight systems engineer Kim Steadman; tech writer, host, podcaster, and celebrity Veronica Belmont; and myself, a web developer of three years.

To say I felt a little out of my element would be an understatement, but I settled in, poured myself some water, shook some hands, and told myself that my experience was just as relevant, if not as visible, as these other, very impressive (and friendly!) ladies.

Dr. Pamela L. Gay prepared a list of great questions, and each of us shared the time answering evenly. We eventually discussed what we were able to do within our own communities to encourage other women, and I was able to talk about the work we do with Rails Girls Atlanta and our monthly social hour All the Nerdy Ladies which always warms my nerdy little heart.

After the panel, I was able to meet several panel attendees, give away a few Rails Girls Atlanta stickers, and encourage several current college students to not give up on their hopes of being an engineer and/or developer.

All in all, it was great to be an active part of what makes Dragon Con so much fun, and I’d love to keep the conversation going next year.

The great people running the Electronic Frontiers Forums track recorded the panel, and the audio is now available. (Disclaimer: there is brief NSFW language.)