When did you first learn how to code? What sparked your interest?
I first started coding when I was 9. I always had an inquisitive mind and love solving problems. Once I started playing around on my parent’s desktop computer, they knew I loved coding and put me in a beginning coding course.
How did you come up with the idea to combine technology with art and dance?
For the longest time I kept them separate. But then, a dear friend of mine who does a lot of work with experimental dance challenged me to put my two loves together and iLuminate was the result!
What challenges did you initially face when you started iLuminate?
The engineering was a critical component. The dancers are wearing tiny computers and lighting systems so safety and efficiency was a huge concern. On the software end, we had a tiny space in the embedded chip the dancers wore to write quite a bit of logic. That was pretty challenging, and fun.
Why do you think more girls should be involved in tech? How do you think we can spark their interest?
Tech is super fun and uses problem solving skills. I love the challenge of making many different components fit together seamlessly, and finding and fixing the most obscure bugs. There is nothing about coding that I find ‘masculine’ except for the societal influences that we have. I think a good way to spark interest in coding for girls is to find projects and ways to use code that are in line with their lifestyle and loves. As we do this, we start to get them to code without them realizing it!
What advice would you give to high school girls who are interested in computer science?
You don’t have to lose your femininity to be an awesome coder! Don’t hide the girl factor! Embrace it! I think that girls get pressured by how their peers view them so they try to stay away from fields that are considered ‘masculine’ and unfortunately, for some girls, this is the beginning of the end of their computer science career.
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