With curiosity as a resource and practical framework as a sort of sieve, engineers fulfill the mission of creating simple solutions for everyday problems. University of Colorado freshman, Sophie Green, imagines that Internet code like those found on apps to practice coding, a language she is more than sufficient in, impacts that mission the most.
At the start of the year, Green became the first Buff to attend the Square College Code Camp, a four-day immersion program for women studying computer science. Under the premise that 12 percent of computing jobs in the U.S. are held by women and 18 percent of computer science graduates are women (which is half of the 1984 percentage), the minds at Square created Code Camp to foster a new generation of women in technology. Twenty women are chosen twice a year to attend the camp in San Francisco.
Vanessa Slavich, a co-founder of the camp, mentioned that Green’s application stood out not only because of her qualifications, but also her intentions.
“Sophia wanted to be a part of the camp for the right reasons,” Slavich said. “She recognized the value that programming has within her community.”
One mission of educating high school and college-aged women in computer science is to push a multiplier effect. Essentially, applicants who expressed interest in teaching and spreading their knowledge, rather than using it solely for personal benefit, stood out most. Green was one of them.
Getting to San Francisco
As a predominantly self-taught, aspiring software engineer, Green was a perfect fit for Code Camp, even if the application process seemed rushed. She managed learn about and apply to the program –- six essays and a 30-second video later — with just under 48 hours notice.
“I had heard about Square before, and had an idea about what companies like it are doing in the mobile space,” Green said. “I actually signed up for the notifications for the application deadline, but I didn’t get anything. Two days before, I’m wondering ‘how come?’, and I double check, and realize the application deadline is in two days.”
The trip to San Francisco included coding workshops, leadership sessions, a tour of the city and the chance to pick the minds of top U.S. engineers, like Square CEO and Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey.
“When I met him, I completely froze,” Green said. “I asked him a question about Wabi-Sabi- he has a very minimalistic aesthetic sensibility- and how that translated into his management style.”
Recalling the experience, she could not remember Dorsey’s response.
“I’m sure he said something very interesting,” she laughed.
As the camp progressed, Green bonded with both her newfound group of friends and her craft, realizing that although her interest in computing began at a young age, interest in the field can be sparked at all points of life.
“Information distribution and the way that we interface with future technologies – augmented reality and more- is particularly interesting,” she said. “Anyone who studies this field can find practical applications for important movements or problems that need to be solved.”
Planting The Seed
“As I got more and more into it, I was able to make the basic sites. After that, I transitioned to make my creations more visually appealing.”
Green began learning flash animations, a file format of web cartoons that causes pages to come to life. She pursued her interest through a yearlong, self-guided school project that eventually produced two websites.
“I made my smaller sister a website, and one for me. After a while, I didn’t do that so much. We’re talking about 11th grade, 12th grade,” she said. “Last year, I took a gap year and went to Hong Kong to do a web development internship. That’s when I started learning about more frameworks and how to use them. I learned how to do single-page applications.”
After three months of learning frameworks such as Ruby on Rails and MVC (model-view-controller), plus essentials of database navigation, Sophie felt confident enough in her skills to start pursuing similar work on her own.
In choosing where to go to school, Green’s search began with the keyword ‘robotics’. As her search progressed, more details about CU Boulder’s campus, the College of Engineering and Applied Science, and computer science faculty members surfaced, and she was hooked. Green’s first semester in Boulder only reinforced her satisfaction.
“Last semester, I had good teachers generally, but I had two that were just incredible,” she said. “Having people that were so available and keen on imparting their knowledge was extremely inspiring. It made my classes that much more interesting.”
Green also finds solace in the size of CU, referencing the vast amount of opportunities available across all disciplines.
“We’re one of the most sustainable campuses in the nation, but building out those resources and working alongside places like the environmental center or women’s resource center, or even just engaging more students in the computer science community, would definitely be interesting and impactful.”
Despite her freshman status, Sophie Green has a working outline for her future. The goal: software engineer, large corporation.
“I work better in a big structure, when things are well delineated and you have a lot of resources and seasoned engineers to help you,” she said.
These resources range from a variety of innovative projects, including Google Fiber, Kiva microfinance, and other various ‘ed-tech’ and ‘bio-tech’ initiatives to spread educational and medical information to internet users. All of these projects, connected by their simplicity and direct effect on users, inspire Green.
“I’ll work on any product that actually touches people’s lives,” she said. “I don’t know exactly where I’m going to end up, but I do know for sure that I’ll be involved in helping others. So many larger corporations and start-ups are doing incredible work just because they have so may resources, so it’s really just about finding the right fit.”
Contact CU Independent Managing Editor Jordyn Siemens at email@example.com.