Coding is not just a man’s game. CHP alumna Faye Cheng (’13) is combining her burgeoning skills in programming and her love of mentorship to empower girls to get involved in technology from a young age.
A student in the Mills College Computer Science Graduate Program, Faye was nominated by the Anita Borg Institute to attend the Qualcomm EmpowHERment Summit in July 2015. This Summit is dedicated to encouraging women to pursue careers in science, technology and engineering, and help them feel comfortable about that choice. Faye describes the summit as “a unique experience where students from all over the U.S. are invited to attend professional workshops, network with fellow STEM students, and participate in a 24-hour hackathon to come up with technical solutions for six non-profit organizations.”
Faye’s team of four was assigned to the non-profit PinkThink for the summit hackathon. PinkThink’s goal is to create relevant games and products that engage girls in STEM education. The organization challenged the team to utilize a programmable LED bracelet to create a platform for girls to “share their code and connect with one another,” said Faye. “We incorporated ‘Coding Stories’ that let elementary school girls follow lovable characters through block coding challenges ….” In Hershe’s Superpower Bracelet, for example, girls help Hershe the cat by learning how to code patterns and colors onto their bracelets, with the bracelets flashing when Hershe’s superpowers are activated. To expand the age range and usability of the project, Faye’s team “created a Mentorship Program where experienced coders could mentor younger girls and have the opportunity to utilize their creativity to create their own Code Stories.” The team won both the “Best PinkThink Project” and “Judge’s Favorite.” For more information on resulting cStyle Bracelets project, visit http://cyao42.github.io/pinkthinkhack/index.html.
So what is next for the team? Featured in an article on the website Devpost.com, Faye’s team talks about the future, stating, “Currently, we have a mock up on our mentorship page. In the future, we envision older and more experienced coders using the platform to create and share their own coded stories with their peers. We would also love to extend this platform by increasing the story interactivity, the number of stories, and following through on our initial implementation of the user profile.”
Faye created a blog post about her conference experience, which is available to read on the Anita Borg Institute “Best of Systers” blog: