In late 2019, Robogals sat down with Alexa Nguyen, a Software Developer at SEEK, to discuss the importance of encouraging girls to try coding and programming at a young age.
Pathway to Coding
Alexa first started a Science degree in 2013 at the University of Adelaide. Like a lot of undergraduates, she simply just didn’t know what she wanted to do.
“Perhaps”, she said, “if I had been exposed to Robogals earlier, I might have chosen to pursue software engineering or computer science straight out of high school.”
After finishing her science degree, she chose to start a Maths and Computer Science degree. At this point, she was just aiming to get good enough grades to transfer into dentistry, as her parents wanted.
However, to her surprise, her enjoyment in taking an introductory programming course prompted her to change into an advanced stream of a computer science degree.
Alexa’s Journey with Robogals
Alexa first started going to Robogals social events for the free pizza and to meet people.
“It just sounded a bit scary and intimidating!”, she told us, laughing.
Her love for teaching kids how to code and program robots was discovered when she helped run a Robogals workshop in Mount Gambier.
“When I was in school, I was never encouraged to try coding! If I were in their position, I’d be really happy to be shown how to code and program these robots and do these cool things!”
The five-day rural trip took place in 2017, and Robogals Adelaide visited five different schools.
“I really cherished the opportunity to help out some kids who had never been exposed to STEM!”
Despite it being her first workshop, Alexa found it all really easy to pick up, thanks to the help of a few experienced volunteers.
While on the trip, Alexa and the other volunteers had the perfect opportunity for light painting against the backdrop of stars.
The lack of light pollution had stunning results, with the volunteers only needing the light from their phones to illuminate their surroundings.
In 2019, Alexa became the treasurer for the University of Adelaide Chapter and helped bring 39 workshops to 1058 students throughout the year.
Into the Future
According to Alexa, a choice to study STEM at university isn’t enough.
“We need to help foster a sense of belonging for women in tech so that they remain engaged in the community!” she said. “That’s why I loved being involved with Robogals and attending the annual SINE conference where I could connect with like-minded people who share a common goal.”
Now having completed her studies, she hopes there will be further opportunities for her to attend Robogals workshops in the future.