I had the pleasure of attending the Grace Hopper conference in 2018. The experience was absolutely mind-blowing and empowering. Throughout my undergraduate studies and at work, I have always found myself in male-dominated spaces. Seeing twenty thousand women who are active in the field of technology was absolutely heartwarming. It reassured me that female engineers are not that rare, and reminded me that there are a lot of women around the world making the world a better place through tech.
One of my favourite talks was the opening keynote by Jessica O. Matthews, the founder of Uncharted Power. Jessica O. Matthews founded Uncharted Power when she was only twenty-two years old. She came up with the idea during her teenage summer vacations to her hometown, Nigeria. She explained how frustrating it was to experience power outage multiple times a day, and how dangerous diesel generators were used during power outages. As an attempt to bring safety to her hometown, she came up with the idea of combining human kinetics and technology to store energy in sports gears like socket balls which then could produce enough energy for three hours after 15 minutes of play. She first implemented her idea for a high school project, and that was how she “accidentally” stepped into the field of technology.
Jessica’s career path was inspiring because she is living proof that people are not born successful. She is living proof that passion, perseverance, drive, and hard work are enough to succeed in your career.
I tried to explore the career hall for a few hours in between the lectures. The career hall was an excellent source to keep up-to-date with the fast emerging technologies. It was amazing to see how different companies look at similar problems differently and come up with diverse and creative solutions.
For example, almost every single company that I talked to was concerned with data collection. They wanted to get insight on how their products and services were being used while respecting the privacy of their users. I learned about simple hashing, NFC tags and many other methods that allow the businesses to mine and store customer behaviour data without collecting any personal information about their users.
The Grace Hopper conference was an amazing way to meet women in tech from diverse cultural backgrounds. It was a treat to learn about the latest advancements in tech that have contributed to improving our quality of life.
Maryam Dastpak describes herself as a “technology enthusiast”. She immigrated to Canada when she was in her teens, and joined SFU as a Computer Science major. At work, she has played the roles of QA, Project Manager, Product Owner, and Program Manager and in her latest position, she is enjoying working on AR and VR in the Mixed Reality Team at Microsoft. Maryam is currently pursuing a Part-Time MBA in the evenings on top of a full-time job. She believes that hard work, knowledge and passion are the pillars of success. Maryam would love to connect with other students and share her experiences. Feel free to contact her through LinkedIn.