Looking back on the years I can say I knew from childhood I would end up in engineering, coding in one form or another, but I didn't imagine it quite like it happened.
June 2012 I walked across the stage of my high school graduation, excited to become an English major at the University of Connecticut. A few months later, after commuting to campus, I began the long and strenuous journey of college. About a semester in, I realized English wasn't for me and I can say with much certainty I tried out many other options, but in the back of my mind, I prepared myself for engineering taking maths and sciences while coding on the side.
Every visit to my advisors office, for two straight years, was a struggle to get my classes signed off on. He wanted my curriculum to cater towards the English major I was still declared as but I knew it wasn't going to work out. As the final semester neared, I applied to the only other school I wanted to attend, University of Hartford, for none other than Electrical Engineering.
After signing the papers to leave UCONN, going through housing selection and planning the move, I had changed my major for the third time to Computer Engineering. It had less math classes than Electrical but offered the benefit of coding classes and more electives. Little did I know how much would change when I stepped foot on campus.
Fall 2014 I began my first semester at the University of Hartford, I knew no one and my advisor was very much a stranger to me. It wasn't until my third semester of Fall 2015, one year after declaring my major, that I met a group of friends that embodied the spirits of engineering. Sitting in Electric Circuit Analysis I, the four of us began the struggle for graduation. From then until the Spring of 2017, we began a four part series of circuits and electronics classes we needed to get through, but as a group we studied, did labs, and worked on projects. The long nights in the lab, take out meals and numerous tests proved a struggle but we stood by one another.
By mid Spring, I realized I wanted to code but not in the same sense anymore. I approached my advisor and spoke the words that, 5 years earlier, wouldn’t have happened, “I am going to study Data Science for my masters.”
After completing my senior capstone design, placing first in the CETA Design Expo for my college and walking across the stage for graduation, I began studying Data Science part time at WPI while working full time in DevOps at a home automation company.
By Spring 2018, I quit my job and moved to Massachusetts to finish my masters full time.
Six years after walking across the stage at my high school graduation I primarily code through shell scripting, Python, and R for school while volunteering as an Intel Software Innovator which supports innovative and independent developers world-wide. Through this I have been able to code using Intel Edison, Intel NUC, and a variety of frameworks and libraries to explore new ideas and projects.
By volunteering for this program, I was being able to return back to the technical high school I graduated from to teach workshops to younger students pursing engineering and software development. We met with one another to discuss the workshops, talk more about engineering and coding as a whole, and take a glimpse into what the future could hold if one were to pursue the Electronics Technology shop at that school.
Experiences and opportunities like volunteering for Intel or visiting my old high school to give talks and workshops have been valuable as I continue my journey as a computer engineer and data scientist.
Don’t stop. As a woman, you may always get looked at differently in the STEM field and sometimes you can get forgotten, but don’t stop. Find a niche and stick to it, but most importantly, make sure you love what you do.
One thing I enjoy playing around with of late is Google IoT with Intel NUC. Through using the NUC in this manner allows for Sphinx to be used for local processing on the computer before Google is used for cloud computing to analyze speech through a microphone. I played around with it a bit in the gist above to see how it could be adapted to analyze just text as well.
I’ve sent a message to my family and delegated my open source projects to my friends. With my last tweet sent, I turn off my laptop, phone, and tablet. My Digital Sabbath begins in 10 minutes: no digital devices for the next month.