Inspiring Juniors Q&A: Andrea Dalisay

Meet UK Inspiring Juniors 2018 winner Andrea Dalisay, from Woking.

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1. How did you first get into technology?

When I moved to the UK in 2014, I got exposed to the world of coding and technology. It all started when I learnt how to program using Python and JavaScript from GCSE Computer Science. This sparked a new interest of creating programs, games, etc. just from coding!

Suddenly I found myself spending my weekends learning one skill after another, as it got me deeply passionate about programming and electronics, especially from an Arduino bootcamp that I joined. This led to more tech bootcamps and CoderDojo sessions learning more skills such as web development, game development and more.

I’m grateful for organisations that enable further learning and a sense of community, especially around girls in STEM such as Acorn Aspirations and Stemettes who have exposed me to various opportunities such as hackathons and tech conferences/exhibitions. I’ve brought my peers as well to various hackathons such as the Sky Hackathon, where we won a highly commended award against uni students!

2. Tell us about your project.

1. Making daily transit more efficient with Amazon’s Alexa through Conversational Skills

Together with my hackathon group, I created an Alexa Skill on transport called Early Bird. This skill helps public transport commuters manage their time when travelling as Alexa will be able to text you what time you need to leave in order to arrive at your destination on time. This project was created on my first hackathon with Acorn Aspiration where i learnt how to make an Alexa skill from scratch in less than a week and implement APIs coming from different platforms..

2. Supporting Mental Health for Students through Furriends and AI

I also helped create this chatbot app in a hackathon with Acorn Aspiration with the theme of mental health using AI. This app will help you relieve stress from exam pressures through encouraging positive thinking which helps relieve the stress. We chose to focus on exam stress in teens as studies show that this develops into mental health problems and illnesses as teens grow older, so it was important that we, as teens ourselves, help solve the problem.

3. When Creativity meets STEM [online store currently in development]

Fuelled by my passion for creativity and technology, I’m in the process of opening up an online store to sell funny, pun-ny merchandise that plays on various science, maths and technology terms. These merchandise aim to make STEM fun and encourage more girls to explore the wonderful world of STEM.

3. What do you love about technology?

I love how technology simplifies the way we learn about our world, do things in our everyday lives and connects us beyond borders. I couldn’t have imagined how easy it would be to hail a taxi from the comfort of my bed, versus having to go out to the street to find one. Or to find a really great recipe for lasagne from people I don’t know from all over the world. Or learn about how to learn a new language in a week or to even get an online degree on AI and neural networks.

Thanks to advanced computing and machine learning - we’re able to simplify the way we do things and make lives for the better. I’m excited to be a part of this ongoing revolution and the fact that we will witness a faster rate of change in the next few years.

4. Who inspires you?

I look up to a fellow Filipina, Anne Aaron, who always found herself as the lone woman in a room full of male engineers in Netflix. She is the Director for Video Algorithm, helping ensure our Netflix videos don’t buffer :) Filipino immigrant, working mom, renowned engineer in the San Fancisco Bay Area driving huge changes in the video and entertainment space. She has a team of top quantum physicists, researchers and scientists helping build the infrastructure and technology behind the growing success of Netflix.

5. What is your ultimate dream for the future?

I  don’t know what the future brings but I definitely see myself in an area of design and technology - leveraging the power of computing and a great user experience to simplify the way we live or the way we move and discover the world. We’ll see where technology takes us!

Also, I can’t wait to explore the world - get to know different cultures, different perspectives and soak in fresh stimulus and learning!

Inspiring Juniors Q&A: Lowena Hull

Meet UK Inspiring Juniors 2018 winner Lowena Hull, from Portsmouth.

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1. How did you first get into technology?

I got into technology in Year 9 when I started learning python for the Astro Pi competition running that year. Previous to that, I had only really done some HTML and CSS to work on creating a website, so it was a great introduction into the world of coding.

2. Tell us about your project.

Currently I’m working on a surveillance system for my pets using motion sensors. I’ve been very busy lately but have plans for some interesting projects later this year.

3. What do you love about technology?

I love the way technology can be used to create things previously only ever dreamed about in sci-fi novels. Furthermore, on a more day to day basis, technology can be used to make the world a more accessible, vibrant place for everyone!

4. Who inspires you?

My role model would probably be Elon Musk. Not only has his work on PayPal revolutionised online payments, but his contributions to making the world a greener place with his work on electric cars is really something I respect him for.

5. What is your ultimate dream for the future?

My ultimate dream would be to work in a position that allowed me to see and interact with the latest findings in technology, and also to meet the people behind such creations.

Inspiring Juniors Q&A: Nikki Christou

Meet UK Inspiring Juniors 2018 winner Nikki Christou, from London.

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1. How did you first get into technology?

Well, I got into technology around the age of 8, when I was diagnosed with my condition. I was left feeling isolated and lonely as I had become quite sick and could no longer take part in the hobbies I loved, for example ballet, football etc. So, one day I decided to film a video of me, on my iPad painting my nails and with my parents consent, I posted it. 

Ever since then, my love for technology and filming videos has grown immensely. If it wasn’t for technology I'm not sure where I’d be right now.

2. Tell us about your project.

I use technology to raise awareness about my condition and to be the voice for anyone with struggles in there life, low confidence or medical illness to turn to and know that they are not alone. Life is really tough sometimes, but you just can’t give up, you just can’t! Beauty lies with in and that's the message that I try to prevail in every video of mine. 

3. What do you love about technology?

I love the way that you can meet people and learn about their story’s, experiences, but also struggles and hardships they have gone through in life. After all everyone goes through rough patches in life and talking to someone who feels similarly to you, who ever that maybe is SO useful and takes away some of that loneliness. I have received so many messages from my amazing viewers who share their story with me and I feel so privileged. It can be that safe place for people all over the world to turn to day or night. Whether that be a 5 minute video or a 30 minute video to get their mind of of thing. Without technology I couldn’t do that and it’s incredible. It has grown my confidence hugely.

4. Who inspires you?

Many people inspire me but, my parents inspire me more than anyone. Their ability to find good and keep going in every situation is something that I find so admirable. Even when life is tough for them, whether that be because of my health or otherwise, they persevere and never seem to grow weak or look at life with a negative outlook, they are just remarkably brave, strong, positive, the list goes on, and they inspire me so very very much.

5. What is your ultimate dream for the future?

My dream for the future is to continue raising awareness for those who are struggling or don’t feel they have a voice. Also to educate as many people as possible to not judge a book by it’s cover and get to know someone before making assumptions by the way they look. But most of all spread the message that kindness always wins and if everyone was kind the world would be a very different place.

Inspiring Juniors Q&A: Kari Lawler

Meet UK Inspiring Juniors 2018 winner Kari Lawler, from Birmingham.

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1. How did you first get into technology?

I have grown up surrounded by computers, but I really took an interest at 13 after I watched a BBC Click episode on the Loebner Chatbot prize and it inspired me to create my first chatbot and from that pursue AI and coding further.

2. Tell us about your project.

I currently have two projects that I’m working on a pursuing. Firstly, I have my business that I am running, which is an AI consultancy, where I help start-ups and SMEs with their AI work. I also have a secondary project, which is a non-profit, AI youth program called Youth4AI where I aim to educate young people on what AI is and the uses for it.

3. What do you love about technology?

I love the fact that technology can help so many people in so many situations. And the fact, especially with AI, that we can use computer programs to solve problems that are unfathomable for humans to even start solving and its fascinating to create the tech that is solving these problems.

4. Who inspires you?

My biggest inspiration for tech currently is Karlie Kloss. I love the fact that she also runs a non-profit that helps so many girls learn tech skills, and also that she embodies the fact that someone doesn’t have to be stereotypically techy to be good at tech. She is a model and does various other projects, but is still passionate about STEM, which I think is an important role model for girls to have.

5. What is your ultimate dream for the future?

My ultimate dream for the future, is to continue building both of my businesses. I aim to have a large consultancy company and be internationally known as an expert in artificial intelligence. In addition to that my goal is to have Youth4AI as a nationwide program, so that I can aid as many young people as possible, for the future.

Inspiring Juniors Q&A: Lydia Jones

Meet UK Inspiring Juniors 2018 winner Lydia Jones, from Liverpool.

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1. How did you first get into technology?

School wasn't for me so I ended up dropping out a few years back and not long after coming up with an idea for a fitness platform due to training in the gym more as a release. At the time I didn't know how to code so I spent most of the time I was homeschooled researching and participating in online courses on platforms such as Udacity, Udemy, YouTube and Codecademy. 

2. Tell us about your project.

My current app HallHang is students events GPS for university halls that allows students to make the most of the space that they are paying for just like any other tenant. We provided door-2-door navigation for student events being hosted across the city. The platform is currently undergoing many changes but one is to allow students not just leverage their own space but other spaces around the city to hold events for gaming, LGBTQ, tech, sport, drinks etc. We are rolling HallHang out in other cities around the UK later this year and into 2019.

3. What do you love about technology?

What I love most is that technology has now become that advanced it removes all boundaries. Some examples of this would be years ago it was much harder to find the right people you need to speak to due to the limited communication channels, now a world of creative people can collaborate much easier and building a startup no longer includes a Computer Science or Business degree.

One of the main things I love is the ability to work from anywhere at any time and this whole movement of working on your own terms. There are so many different roles within areas of tech, I just love how creative people can now be and how more people are learning that building that idea they may have is now easier than ever before.

4. Who inspires you?

I'm a book and podcast guru and could probably name over 20 different startup founders, influencers, world leaders and others that have all done certain things to inspire me but the ultimate inspiration for me isn't Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg or Evan Spiegel even though they have all built unbelievable things. The one person that I continuously look up at is Jeff Bezos and it isn't because of his net worth but the sheer determination he's had, how he broke the big goal down and surrounded himself with the very best to disrupt retail and many areas of tech - my favourite thing being Amazon Alexa and the whole #VoiceFirst movement happening right now. 

5. What is your ultimate dream for the future?

My ultimate goal is to leverage both machine learning and voice to build a company that's team works in multiple timezones tapping into other creative talent pools. I'm currently working on a machine learning platform for retail that will be launched over the coming months and I'm super excited for this.