Meet Our Newest Women in Tech Scholarship Winners
22 Feb 2017
12 minute read
We are excited to announce that Ann Siapno, Hannah Thompson, Carole Pillette and Jess Ngo are the recipients of the Feb 2017 Women in Tech Scholarship! We have been very impressed by the quality of the applicants and it was a very difficult decision to make.
Not only do we have four brilliant scholarship winners, we are delighted to announce that 30% of our students in both classes - Sydney and Melbourne - are women. This is a fantastic result, far above those of most universities. Our women students, just like the men, come from such diverse backgrounds as science, finance, and customer service. We’ve seen little difference in the spread or focus of their pre-coding careers.
Learn more about our winners
Ann Siapno, one of our Melbourne recipients, studied for a Bachelor of Psychology from the University of Western Australia in 2014, and after a few years in customer service began working her way through the Team Treehouse and Free Code Camp curriculum before deciding to join us. In her spare time she is working on several entrepreneurial enterprises and aerial photography. Her experimentation so far involves a custom search engine that interacts with the Wikipedia API, a quote generator linked to the Twitter API, and a maths game. An entrepreneurial spirit, Ann has already begun making moves towards that end.
Carole Pilette, another of our Melbourne recipients, has had a fascinating career as a chemical engineer who has both worked for IBM on semi-conductors and in environmental management as a Quarantine Officer, after discovering a love of wildlife. Along her journey to work out if coding is right for her, she has designed and developed a dashboard for the quarantine industry, as well as other projects. Her problem solving skills have been sharpened by her time as a quarantine officer, where she came up with an innovative solution which was crucial to reinstade trade between Tasmania and the rest of Australia. She intends to become a programmer to inspire people to rethink the status quo.
Hannah Thompson, one of our Sydney recipients, graduated from the University of Tasmania with a PhD in phytopathology, specifically, potato diseases, in 2012, and has been working as a scientist her whole career. Recently she worked in biosecurity. She began learning to code (again) almost a year ago, experimenting with Go, Python and Arduino in her free time. She is already a conference star, talking about Go at #LCA2017 WOOTConf, in ‘Hannah Gets Go-ing’, and Arduino at Women Who Code Sydney and Girl Geek Dinners Sydney. Already in hackathon mode, her team won People’s Choice Award at SheHacks2016. Hannah first came into contact with Coder Academy at Node Girls Sydney. Like many people, she first ran into code when modifying her Geocities page, and she’s very excited to be starting again.
We asked them a few questions!
What excites you the most about coding?
Ann: The ability to create pretty much anything from scratch. Apps have become the go-to solution to pretty much any problem today and having the knowledge and ability to contribute to that innovation is incredibly exciting.
Carole: The challenge!! There is an indescribable satisfaction when you finally get your code to do what you attended it to do! You can spend hours typing away, creating objects, classes, scripts much like for a theatre piece; you may run into hiccups at rehearsals but when the curtain raises for the premiere and you’re sitting among the public enjoying the show…you can’t beat that!
Hannah: I'm excited about all the different areas that coding opens up to me. Suddenly I'm able to work across so many industries and with so many different people, hopefully being able to solve some really interesting problems that I never would've come across before. On a personal level I'm excited about how coding makes me feel - I get lost in 'the zone' when I'm working.
Jessica: The ability to bring your ideas to life. You can come up with an idea or solution in your head, then figure out how to build it. Most of the time, without much cost or too many materials. Your main input is time and money. The culture is also very collaborative and enthusiastic. New projects are evolving every day and people are open minded.
What do you think your previous career brings to the table?
Ann: I went into business straight after dropping out of University and started several (some failed, and some still operating) businesses. I believe that being in that entrepreneurial world has built a large drive and persistence which is incredibly helpful while learning such a complex subject such as coding.
Carole: I’m tempted to say…’you mean previous careers’. Nowadays we change and morph constantly throughout our professional life, to adapt to circumstances and business needs. I believe that my previous experience as a chemical engineer will help me in structuring coding solutions, and my experience in working for the government as a quarantine officer will help me come up with creative solutions.
Hannah: My previous career brings both an understanding of science which I can definitely apply my new coding skills to, as well as lots of people and communication skills. My previous job involved leading a team and talking about science with lots of different stakeholders, some of whom didn't have science background.
Jessica: My previous role as a Sustainable Building Engineering Consultant was driven around achieving energy and water efficiency. With programming, I try to make my code as efficient as possible and am always looking for better ways to design solutions. The ability to design efficient programs that still meet design requirements is a challenge I am finding very enjoyable.
What's something really awesome you've coded?
Ann: I've done a few personal projects that's consisted of some complex programming (in my eyes) and often the use of APIs - such as my Wikipedia Search engine and a simple maths game (both on my online portfolio). I'm excited to code more complex projects once I've completed this course.
Carole: I’ve started building an app to collect quarantine data. It is much more complex that it sounds as it must cater for many different types of users. I’ve worked on the frontend and I’ll be tackling the backend, with a database, hopefully shortly!
Hannah: One of the first things I coded was a netball ladder in python. I played social netball and the ladder on our association's website stopped updating properly, which was frustrating for our slightly too competitive team. so I made a program that would take all the text from the results page of the website, parse it, do the maths and spit out a ladder.
Jessica: Our week 2 group project was a bank robbing game, with animations displaying how far the police are from you. Players needed to answer questions correctly to avoid being caught. It was so much fun to build and come up with the ideas. Lots of fun!
What area of tech are you most curious about?
Ann: I'd love to be involved in app startups but I have a growing interest in upcoming technology such as drones and 3D printing.
Carole: I’m most interested in using tech as a tool to achieve goals. I’m passionate about preserving ancient knowledge, the way we used to do things before we all moved to cities, such as growing edibles, knitting… and technology can most certainly do that. I’m also equally passionate to use technology to inspire people to live with a smaller footprint. I love minimalism and optimizing living spaces!
Hannah: I'm really curious about robotics. I started playing with arduinos, making LEDs light up and trying to work with sensors. I think the next natural step is making things move with robots.
Jessica: AR/VR, Data Science, the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence - there are so many things happening everyday in the tech space, it is hard to select one. I am curious about where current and future technologies will lead us. I am curious about the known and yet-to-be-known applications of technology across all aspects of our lives.
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