technology

The Institution of Engineering and Technology Present Around The World: The Writeup

Last night I took part in Present Around the World, an awesome competition in which 18-26 year olds get the chance to present a technical idea in order to gain experience presenting, as well as potentially win some monies.

I found out about this through my good friend Mr. David Whale and entered a talk on my recent Wearable Electronics workshop.

Other people spoke about e-taxi, an alternative to taxiing an airplane from the gate to the runway by using electric motors; utility belts for actual people, not just super heroes; the Internet of Things (yes, smart fridges were mentioned…); and producing energy from waste.

I spoke about my own interest in Computer Science, the statistics and problems with the school curriculum as it focuses on consuming, not creating technology, the statistics and problems with minorities not electing to take an interest in technology, which lead on to becoming a STEM ambassador, my own DIY projects in wearable tech and finally, the workshop and how it was funded and ran itself, as well as the future I have planned as far as this project goes.

At the end of my 8 minutes (intended to run on for 10 minutes: I don’t know what I missed out, as previous recordings I’d got up to about 10:10) I had 5 minutes of grueling questions about what I did, about wearable technology and why people should buy these devices, as well as what device I would make if I could make anything with it.

After everyone else gave their talk, the other competitors and I, of which 2 were Airbus interns and 1 of those was from Hull University’s business school, had a chat whilst the judges left the room to make a decision. One of the other competitors was particularly interested in how you become a STEM ambassador which is heartening, and amongst what we discussed we learned about what we were each doing for a job.

After what felt like hours but was actually around 45 minutes, the judges returned, and told us they’d decided on the two top people, myself and Campbell who spoke about e-Taxi, but were not sure which won. This led to tie-break, for which the question was “why did you choose this subject and what’s your passion in it?”. I honestly don’t remember my exact answer: something like “I like computers and electronics and I got bored of the lack of girls and the lack of creativity in the curriculum so I want to change it” but put more eloquently – which led on to “What message would you want people to take away from this talk?”: again, not sure what I said, it basically came down to “the school aren’t teaching the right things about technology but through my workshops and other embedded technology we can teach it creatively as well as combine other subjects like electronics and physics”.

They left for another 10 minutes, in which the other competitors congratulated myself and Campbell and we discussed who’d win.

The judges returned and told me I’d won, and that they’d like for me to wait another 10 minutes in order to give some verbal feedback, which I found extremely helpful. During the feedback session where I took a whole bunch of notes, the head of the Young Professional network, George who organised the day, said as we both work in Airbus, he and the judge working at Rolls-Royce would be happy to help coach at a later date before the next round, which will be in Southampton in June, and for which the IET pays for all travel and accomodation.

Overall, I’m over the moon, and again a huge thank you to Craig, who helped with slide design and gave me some incentive to keep practicing and recording myself what felt like 100 times in order to get my presentation right, and to improve my body language and overall style: I’m thinking of taking the recordings I still have (seriously, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve said “Hi I’m Charlotte Godley, I’m a computer science student from the University of Hull and I’m currently doing an industrial placement at Airbus”) and doing a cassette boy style remix…

Another thank you goes to David Whale who nudged me into this and who’s been a huge inspiration towards me becoming active in STEM and in Raspberry Pi, and is just generally a really great person to bounce ideas off of.

I’m completely over the moon and look forward to my trip to Southampton and to meeting the other folks from Local Network heats, and thanks so much to the IET for this awesome event – I will be nudging my fellow students¬†into doing this when I get back to uni.

Advertisements

My day at Google

So a few weeks back, I applied for a brilliant opportunity to go into London and get a look in Google’s office, meet 64 other bright female Computer Science students from around the UK, meet a lot of Google software engineers, have lessons in confidence, take a Mock Interview, have my CV looked over and picked apart by actual recruiters and get some free food.

Somehow I got picked (I’m still non-plussed on that, got to be honest!), booked my day off work and my train tickets in, hung out with a Craig from the pi community and the following day, the big day arrived and I trekked through London to their Buckingham Palace Street office.

I’ve been to 3 womens events so far (yes. I’m aware it’s gender discrimination and I’m still a bit mixed up about how I feel about them, but they’re awesome opportunities, so I will still take them) and I think the Google day was by far my favourite, not least because of the free food and office tour where it took me a second to realise “hey there’s Google written on the wall…and uhm…on everything”, but because of how the whole day was handled.

We started by checking in, having an intro from Farrah, a recruiter and outreach kind of person who I’d met before and is quite possibly reading this blog, as well as Marily (I’m not sure I spelled that right…) who is doing a PhD at Imperial College in CS and got a scholarship to do so from Google. This progressed into the icebreaker which was fabulous and hilarious, as we were first told to write down 3 words to describe ourselves and then instructed that we’d each been given an animal on the back of our name badges, and at this point were told to make the sound of that animal – as mine was a snake, I sat there hissing and smiled when looking across the table as another girl was hissing and giggling back at me. We got up, joined together and listened out for more hissing. We then paired off to talk to each other about the words we’d picked, what we studied/where and various other things about ourselves, and were then told to introduce one another as Farrah ran round the room with a microphone.

Following this we sat back down, and a software Engineer and manager named Grahame talked about what he did, why Google is awesome and various stories about his life, after which people asked questions. This was insightful as he was completely honest and gave what he liked about Google, and what he didn’t like about Google.

This lead into a confidence workshop in which another google employee got us to get up, talk to 3 other girls from the group and discuss again, what we did, what we wanted to get across when networking, and just generally mingle. We then sat and discussed how that felt, what shows confidence and what shows nervousness, and how to avoid the nervousness part, with the input from 3 more female google employees.

Segue into lunch, where we headed upstairs and mingled with each other and with the employees we’d met and who joined us to talk over lunch, and then straight after was the mock interview session.

Quite personally, mine went horribly, but that’s a good thing (I think). I was paired with a girl named Mariya who had already done 1 internship with Google and had one lined up for the summer, so was far more confident than me and far more clued up on her algorithms, which is the important thing with a Google interview. Our interviewer, Ben, quizzed us on how best you would work out whether a string was in a list of strings of unknown size. I completely tanked the entire thing because suddenly, I’d forgotten how to program and it’s been a long time since first year. This is a good thing, however, because I could see exactly what I was doing wrong, and where I needed to improve.

After leaving the interview, later on Ben came back to me and asked if I wanted my feedback. Baring in mind at this point I’d taken a massive confidence knock where I suddenly thought “I’m a terrible Computer Scientist and should be ashamed at how badly that went”, I politely declined: yes, more feedback on exactly what he saw would be great, but I wasn’t ready for it, and before going off and doing any applications for google/get any interviews with them, I will make sure I am ready.

On returning to the room in which we were based, we were taken around the office, shown things like the gym and the massage rooms (where there was a lovely picture of a cat massaging another cat with the caption “massage in progress”) and then given an open invite to ask the tour guide any questions about anything.

We returned to the room, and were taken out of it again for the CV workshop, where I was again with Mariya and a couple of other girls from my table. This was again an insightful workshop where I scribbled bits out of my CV and was told exactly what google’s looking for, which is very heavily focussed on technical ability – for example, he mentioned a 19 year old guy got hired because he had “#1 in the UK on TopCoder” on his CV and was dropping out of university.

The final session was a Q&A with 2 software engineers and one recruiter about their jobs, what they liked about London and various other topics, for which Farrah asked most of the questions since we were struggling to think of any.

Overall I had a really great day and it’s something real to aim for if I want it enough, as well as meeting more girls and talking some more about the necklace I was wearing (my 16 neopixel ring + gemma one, programmed so that it randomly flashed through the standard google colour scheme) and being told “I’m expecting a nice blog on this charlotte” by Farrah (no pressure or anything!)

[will add photos later. maybe]

 

Workshop update 2, and Raspberry Jamboree this week

Last week I recieved the funding off uni to get going with buying my kit, so duly I emailed a few sellers I’d not got a quote from just yet, and since I was up North this last weekend, took a detour into town to speak to Paul from Pimoroni about the kit and how much education discount I could get off.

After pulling out everything I needed (I felt quite a lot like a kid in a candy shop standing infront of baskets upon baskets of Adafruit stock…) which amasses to:

37 gemmas (1 for emergencies/showing what to do, 36 for the guides)

72 neopixels

4 conductive thread bobbins

a lot of snaps so that I can reuse the gemmas and LEDs

image

All the swag

Paul told me Pimoroni does a 20% educational discount, but were additionally willing to give a further 10% as a company donation, which I’m dead chuffed with. Yeah team Sheffield!
A big thank you also to Gareth from 4tronix who offered a discount for the GEMMAs and to Ben at Phenoptix who offered a discount on my kit, aswell as Proto-pic who do a 10% student discount as standard and were willing to let the kids I’m working with have that discount too – it’s hard to try and balance out all the electronics companies around rasPi and hacking so that I do business with everyone, but rest assured it was much appreciated, just easy to go into town and pick up everything at once. Pimoroni also have hypnotic powers that force me to spend more money there…
I’ll try and make sure I use a few different sellers if poss in future to spread the love.

Anyway, I’ve now soldered up 2 of my neopixels and a GEMMA so that they have snaps on the connections I need:

image

For anyone struggling to solder these on to the neopixels I’ll probably try and post a video going through what you can do to get them on there – I’ve only done one test kit as it were so that I can check whether the connections are all ok, after which for two solid weeks I’ll be in production line mode. Unfortunate since I don’t have any weekends to bomb through them all in…

On to my second piece:

RASPBERRY JAMBOREE IS THIS WEEK *YAY*

I’ve just written my slide deck for my talk, which is on community spirit which is pretty much what’s brought me on from shy little Charlotte to…slightly less shy Charlotte who’s a lot more proud of her own accomplishments and passionate about volunteering to make the next generation more technology savvy and have less of a gender imbalance.

I’ll be speaking the thursday afternoon, and I’ll also be on the OCR stand advising people on tinkering with the GPIO, wearable technology and my crowd funding project. I’m trying to get rid of business cards so please take one from me if you see me.

There’s also the birthday party friday night, which has so much free swag I’m drooling just thinking about it, so if you’re going to the jamboree make sure you get a birthday party ticket.

If you’re not going to the Jamboree, particularly students who’ve told me they want a raspberry pi, then you should be ashamed of yourselves. Kay?

Link is here, and video on last year’s jamboree is here: