Tech trek is a week long program hosted by Code 2040 where you meet software engineers and executives that are, or seeking to become more diverse. This program included all expenses paid to the Bay Area of San Francisco, California. This is the first year Code 2040 started this program. Forty students were selected out of 318 that applied from all over the United States. I was the only student in the group that represented NYIT. Throughout the week, we visited many types of technology companies from small startups to big industries. We visited New Relic, Pandora, Box, Presence, Medium, Intel, Circle CI, AirBnb, Github, and Code 2040 headquarters.
At these companies we did projects, had networking sessions, and listened to presenters speak. My group and I worked on two projects, the arduino machine and the ideathon. For the arduino project, we went to Intel and attended a 2 hour workshop. We learned how to place LED lights on the hardware and program the hardware to make the LED lights blink. Ideathon was a project that took an entire day at Box, a startup company in Silicon Valley. We had to form an idea for an app that solves any problem within the United States. We all worked in groups of four and decided to focus on the problem of financial illiteracy. We decided to tackle the problem by targeting early learners. We created a prototype design of our app called Money Talks, which teaches kids from grades K-12 about money management. Our design resembles the Pac-Man theme and the power balls have dollar signs on them. When the pac monster eats a power ball, a question or statement about finance facts or other mini games will pop up as an option. The user must answer the questions correctly in order to win the game or level up. I enjoyed working on this project and it was so much fun pitching this idea to a panel of judges.
The speakers we heard from were great. My favorite speakers were Mikey from New Relic and Maria from Intel. They both went through challenges in their lives that are common in my community. Mikey had a 15 year drug addiction and Maria was a teen mom struggling through college. They fought for everything they have and their passion for engineering is so encouraging.In the workspace, both speakers had to earn their respect with coworkers.
Aside from listening to speakers, we also networked with software engineers, hiring managers, business professionals,and Code2040 crew. I met some amazing people. I spoke with an Android developer from One University, a startup company in California. I met Dustin, the creator of the Facebook like button, and Google drive. He now works at Asana. He talked about his journey to where he is now. During a presentation Code 2040 crew, Alex and Don, talked about designing and the business behind their ideas. I learned so much for them.
After this experience, I decided to pursue designing interfaces for mobile devices. Meeting my chaperones Mimi Fox and Navi Kaur was the best thing that could have happened to me. They were so warm and welcoming. Navi was like an encouraging sister to the group. She asked if everyone was ok and she made sure we were able to get the job done and have a lot fun! On the other hand, Mimi was the mother figure, not because of her age, but for her wisdom. She knew a lot about life in and out of the tech field. She was a fashionista and a diva in her own way. There are not enough positive words to describe them both. I miss them so much. I hope to see and work with them again really soon. My group was even filled with amazing people. I laughed and cried at all the stories and memories we shared.I love the fact that I got to be myself around them. I can’t wait to see them all again.
I needed to figure out my plan because senior year is not so far away anymore. I attended Tech Trek because I wanted to get exposure to the different branches of software development so that I can prepare for the future. I kept asking myself. What should I focus on? Where do I go from here? After working on the Ideathon project, I finally found my answer. I am currently focusing on Android development and User Interface Design on mobile applications. If anyone has an opportunity to go on this trip, I recommended that you go. It’s a lot of fun and you will learn about so many technological opportunities. You will always have to prove your worth to yourself and the world. I learned that as long as you believe in yourself, you can achieve anything. When your door of opportunity opens, don’t hesitate; go through it.
Written by: Marciana Davis Computer Science undergrad at New York Institute of Technology