Only two weeks have passed since I last took a crack at Python, the second coding language introduced to me at the Girls Who Code (GWC) summer immersion program at Florida International University (FIU). Since then, GWC has challenged me in more ways than I ever thought possible – I delved into the realm of robotics and almost didn’t make it out alive.
Using a programming language called C, my assigned group and I coded instructions for a motorized robot to follow. One of our main objectives was to give it the capabilities to escape a makeshift maze using sensors to detect whenever it was hitting a wall. Then, we programmed a series of steps the “Whisker Bot” would take in order to escape whenever it encountered a three-sided room.
It took longer than expected to get the code to work (which seems to be the case whenever you find yourself coding), but together, we brainstormed and drew out a plan. When push came to shove, we weren’t afraid to ask for help. It was then that I learned that it’s okay to reach out for assistance – nobody is born a programmer.
Once we figured out the problem, we moved onto making the robot sing. Yes, sing. Getting the robot to sing the right notes was yet another series of cracking our heads together.
Within these two additional weeks of coding, we had speakers and field trips that would further pique my interest in the tech field. First, we had our last guest speaker of the program, Allison Cammack, who works as a client partner at Kairos, a company that serves as a human analytics platform. In other words, they use face analysis algorithms to recognize and understand how people feel in video, photos, and the real world.
Cammack informed us on how she tapped into various careers before finally falling in love with computer science, and she explained what the company she works for does. I was in awe at the amount of possibilities in the tech world. And we didn’t have to roam too far on our next field trip to catch a glimpse of them.
Just on the FIU campus, there was an I-CAVE, where we stepped into the world of virtual reality with just a remote control and virtual reality goggles. We were immersed in a virtual house, and we were able to interact by moving the furniture and walking into various rooms.
My favorite field trip, however, was when we left campus on a bus and headed toward Weston, Florida to tour the headquarter of Ultimate Software, a company specialized in selling computer software to smaller companies or businesses in need of them. We got a glimpse of a day in the life of an Ultimate Software employee: heading to the gaming room during break, sitting in a quiet Yoga room for relaxation, using tables that double as white boards for impromptu coding, and, of course, making plenty of coffee pit stops.
As we headed back to FIU, I was so excited to begin making a product of my own. I had gone through five weeks of intense coding instruction, yet didn’t feel like I could call myself a coder quite yet. But getting to meet and speak with Ultimate Software employees helped me realize that I, too, can be a programmer.
And with that mindset, I began my last two weeks as a Girls Who Code student and my first two weeks as a programmer.
By Edysmar Diaz-Cruz
All Photos Courtesy of Ultimate Software