Africode Mentorship: Titilayo and Regina

Regina Rex: Mentee

What do you currently do? I am a Sophomore at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, double majoring in Mathematics and Computer Science. I am a Resident Assistant on campus and also, currently working as a Software Engineering intern, for Oja Express.

What are some of your interests/hobbies? I love listening to music and singing. I enjoy watching movies, reading and learning new things.

What first got you interested in tech? I decided to study Computer Science after I was introduced to Python at Google Computer Science for High School -a one week programming camp where I got to learn python and work with raspberry pi. I was fascinated by the things I could build and this piqued my interest in the field.

Have you built anything (product/project) interesting? I am currently building my personal website (www.reginarex.pw) to showcase a few projects I have worked on in school and during my personal time. One of the interesting projects I am currently working on is a microcontroller project to detect how long it takes a laser light on the chip to bounce back to the sensor.  It calculates the time of flight using a distance sensor. I  enjoy working on embedded systems projects and this project is a fun and good learning experience for me.

What value have you derived from being a member of the Africode community? As a female in the tech field, having a community of people who share similar goals and interests has made me more comfortable and confident in my career choice. Being able to relate and share my ideas with other mentors and mentees has increased my motivation, and inspired me to reach my goals and aim higher. Also being part of Africode has helped me grow my network. I have met many people and also learned a lot.

How would you like to use your skills to contribute to Africa development? One of the reasons why I fell in love with computer programming is because I see it as a tool for growth and development. Currently, I don’t really have a specific plan, but I hope to use my skills to educate, encourage, and empower other females like me, to pursue STEM courses.

Are there any African tech developments/news that you find exciting/interesting? One of the tech development that I am currently excited about is the Made in Nigeria Tech podcast (MINT). I find this podcast interesting because they discuss important topics, use it as an opportunity to showcase startup companies, and also talk about the technological growth in the Nigerian tech community.

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Titilayo Craig: Mentor

What do you currently do? I am a User researcher currently working at Microsoft. On a typical day I work with product teams of designers, engineers and PMs to enhance and add new features to an application. I usually use various research methods and run usability studies to ensure the products are focused on our target users needs.

What are some of your interests/hobbies? I love to travel and typically try to visit at least one new country/city a year.

What first got you interested in tech? Honestly I am not sure- I just remember back in 2006 when I was choosing a major I knew I wanted something that brought information together. So I ended up getting degrees in Computer Science and Applied Math. The more I learnt, the more I enjoyed being in technology.

Have you built anything (product/project) interesting? During my Human Computer Interaction masters, I did create a more friendly accessible weather website for people with visual impairment so that could count as interesting to me :). Right now I work on a 3-D creative Paint software which is actually pretty interesting especially because of where the future of technology is going.

What value have you derived from being a member of the Africode community?  I always say "To whom much is given, much is expected" so coming into the Africode program as a mentor, I just wanted to be able to provide assistance to someone since I have had some great people who have encouraged me on my career path. There is so much value in just being a part of a place that brings more of us into technology.  Also seeing how smart and great to work with my mentee has been has definitely been great.

How would you like to use your skills to contribute to Africa development? I will like to work with organizations that get young people excited about technology and into it early through mentorships and programs like hour of code etc. Currently I am working on a review system with a few partners that promotes customer service and partnership between the businesses and their customers. I am hoping this experience will open me up to investing in the future of Africa by creating various technology solutions focused on the African market.

Are there any African tech developments/news that you find exciting/interesting? I try to keep up with what is going on especially with the wave of entrepreneurs and tech that is being established in countries within Africa.  It is just exciting to see the breadth of work being done and the recognitions.

Africode Mentorship: Rachel and Faith

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Faith Oviawe: Mentee

What do you currently do? I am currently a sophomore, Civil and Environmental Engineering major at Howard University.

What are some of your interests/hobbies? I love anime, love to design and sketch random things in my free time, like to plan future trips around the world, dance to worship music and I love immersing myself in other cultures through books and movies!

What first got you interested in tech? My dad really encouraged me to be in this line of study because he believed that I was capable of thinking outside the box. He also believes that a person has to be the change they want to see in the world and that is what truly inspired me; I saw a need for change in infrastructure and technology in Nigeria.

Have you built anything (product/project) interesting? In my Introduction to Engineering class, I worked with a Raspberry Pi and successfully programmed a Pandora box (a music radio) with Python.

What value have you derived from being a member of the Africode community? I met an amazing mentor, Rachel! 

How would you like to use your skills to contribute to Africa development? Once I have garnered enough experience in structural and sustainability engineering, I would like to go into heavy construction that is both aesthetically pleasing and environmentally friendly (since I have a strong passion for the environment).

Rachel Agyemang: Mentor

What do you currently do? I enable companies that are using Microsoft's managed Hadoop (big data analytics service) to be increasingly successful.

What are some of your interests/hobbies? When I'm off work I read fiction (most recently 'The Kingkiller Chronicles' was great), watch basketball, and (lately) scroll through interior decor photos on Pinterest.

What first got you interested in tech? Hmm very first. My dad always said if you want to solve problems, study engineering. So I did. 

Have you built anything (product/project) interesting? I took a class that was right at the intersection of my major, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (you could tell because CS-focused students hated it as much as EE-focused students). Building a lamp, controlling a robot arm, creating a calculator - designing these systems from the wire, resistor, capacitor level, to coding (and debugging!) low level assembly was both incredibly frustrating and rewarding.

What value have you derived from being a member of the Africode community? I met Faith :)

How would you like to use your skills to contribute to Africa development? That's still a work in progress, thinking through that. (I also expect that it will evolve over time.) Currently I'm curious about the potential tech has to create accountability and improve efficiency in government and the public sector.

Are there any African tech developments/news that you find exciting/interesting? The Flint - it's a new online magazine that's democratizing tech; it's not aimed at tech startups, but any regular business in Africa that's wondering what can I even do with this stuff. I've always loved words, so when I see words further tech, or the other way around, that's exciting.

Africode Mentorship: Adebisi and Daniel

Adebisi Oje: Mentor

What do you currently do? Developer Relations – I work with Microsoft Partners and help them understand how they can be successful on Microsoft’s Cloud (Azure).

What are some of your interests/hobbies? I enjoy outdoor activities like CrossFit, kayaking, hiking, etc.

What first got you interested in tech? My cousin and Uncle were already in Tech and so I got introduced to computers at a young age. I learnt to type before I went to secondary school and consistently did well in my computer classes while I was in secondary school. Choosing computer science in college became a natural fit for me.. 

Have you built anything (product/project) interesting? I work on a couple of cool projects at work. I am currently working on an IOT projects that monitors devices in a room. For instance, I can switch up the lights in a room from a different location – cool huh?

What value have you derived from being a member of the Africode community? The network. I have met people I never knew I’ll meet through this network. I have met both old friends (like people I knew when I was 6 years old and reconnected with them on Africode)  and new friends that’s have helped me in my career or on projects.

How would you like to use your skills to contribute to Africa development? Africode is my contribution. I want to impact every African student thinking of studying computer science and support them till they graduate from college with a degree.

Are there any African tech developments/news that you find exciting/interesting? I am excited to see how far e-commerce will get in Africa. I think we have a long way to go – but I am excited about the development.

Daniel Elendu: Mentee

What you currently do? I am a sophomore at Vassar College majoring in Computer Science. I might also double major in Science, Technology, and Society (STS) or get a minor in Mathematics..

What are some of your interests/hobbies? I enjoy studying Languages (French and Haitian Creole presently), playing FIFA, soccer, drawing, biking.

What first got you interested in tech? My dad got me a computer when I was really young and so I played a lot of games on it and later on learned about its other functionalities. In my teenage years, other forms of tech such as phones, video game consoles, and other devices interested me so I read about them and followed pages that had news about such. I had taken Computer Science and Data Processing as high school courses and I enjoyed them as classes but I had no interest in pursuing a Computer Science degree till I took Intro to CS here at Vassar and realized coding was not what I thought it was. I had a really good professor even though I didn’t really enjoy coding, but it was challenging and rewarding 

Have you built anything (product/project) interesting during college/professional career? I am currently working on the frontend (and soon the backend) of an Android app for an Urban Enrichment Club on my campus. It is the first project I have been involved in and I have been learning a lot while working on my parts of the project.

What value have you derived from being a member of the Africode community? I have been motivated by people ahead and learning how they navigated through college successfully. I have also received professional advice on things like my resume and academic advice (which is really valuable due to similar experiences and also new ones that one can learn from). I feel the mentorships and relationships built here are also important beyond just completing majors or getting jobs.

How would you like to use your skills to contribute to development in Africa? Right now, I am uncertain of a specific field I will work in, but wherever ‘the code’ can do good things, I will be there..

Are there any African tech developments/news that you find exciting/interesting? I think e-commerce is the biggest thing right now and things are looking good in that industry. I hope that soon, huge companies /tech brands that can compete globally with the big guns in the tech industry will emerge.

Africode Mentorship: Nini and Omotola

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Omotola Akeredolu: Mentee

What do you currently do? I’m currently a senior at Drexel University studying Information Technology with a minor in Digital Media/Games and Animation.

What are some of your interests/hobbies? I am currently interested in game development, which is why I took up the minor. I am not an avid gamer myself, but I admire the art. I love the way all the elements: sound, animation,  graphic design, models, environment art and so on, all come together to deliver an entertaining experience to players.

What first got you interested in tech? I have been interested in technology for as long as I can remember. At a young age, I was the one in my household always fiddling with gadgets. I was always interested in figuring out how they worked. Soon enough when a computer wasn’t working right or a phone needed to be reconfigured I was the one everyone would call on. 

Have you built anything (product/project) interesting? The most interesting thing I have worked is my current senior project, a game called Tilted [here]. It's the third game I have worked on outside of class, and my favorite. It is an online third-person multiplayer party game which features an environment balanced at a point in the center like a seesaw. There are four players, three of which have to work together to keep the environment balanced, while they compete against each other to gather gems in the environment. The fourth player flies above the maze and his job is to kill the other players.

What value have you derived from being a member of the Africode community? I have been a little uncertain about my path after college, but being part of the Africode program has given me some clarity on career paths I could follow. I enjoy being able to talk about my goals and concerns with my mentor, Nini who has already been through the process.

How would you like to use your skills to contribute to Africa development? I have always wanted to build my own company, I don't know what it’ll be yet, but I hope to use it in the further development of technology in Nigeria, and create job opportunities for many talented unemployed youth while using the profit to help the less privileged.

Are there any African tech developments/news that you find exciting/interesting? I like the current trend I am noticing in young Africans who are embracing their nationality and using their skills to boost the image of their country. I was happy earlier last year when I heard a young Cameroonian had created the first African game-hero in his video game that was based on African folklore. I was also impressed with the young Nigerian who refused a job at Microsoft (and proudly told Bill gates about his refusal) so he could focus on building his business that helps other Nigerians find jobs.

 

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Nini Ikhena: Mentor

What you currently do? I work as a Program Manager at Microsoft, on the Operations Management Suite - Log Analysis team, where I build solutions that allow our customers view analysis and intelligence of services they have deployed across their hybrid clouds. I also run a fashion blog on the side called Nerdly Beautiful (www.nerdlybeautiful.com), where I blog about fashion and style.

What are some of your interests/hobbies? I have a penchant for fashion, sewing, crafting, travel, photography, learning French and visual storytelling. When I'm not working, I'm expressing these interests through my blog, or searching for the next good book to read. I'm currently reading Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, and I'm loving it so far!

What first got you interested in tech? My secondary school Physics professor played a major role in the career path I chose. His excitement for Physics was contagious, and he really believed in my potential. I was very interested in creating and designing electronics and was fascinated by planes, which made me go back and forth with deciding to study Math, Industrial Design or Aeronautic Engineering. I discovered programming freshman year and fell in love with being able to make a computer do stuff. I quickly switched majors and ended up graduating in Computational Mathematics because it was a good fusion of my interests in Math and Computer Science. 

Have you built anything (product/project) interesting during college/professional career? There are a number of things I would love to build, but I'd say the coolest product I've worked on was one I recently shipped called the OMS Gateway. It's a tool that sends data from computers with no internet connectivity to the cloud, and with this tool a number of our enterprise customers with thousands of servers without internet connectivity were unblocked and now they're able to view metrics on how these servers are performing, which in turn helps them make better business decisions. Read more about it (here) and (here)! In the future, I'd love to build something woven into the IoT and wearable technology spaces.

What value have you derived from being a member of the Africode community? I am continuously inspired by my mentee, Omotola and her drive inspires me to work harder. It's also been great connecting with other mentors who all have brilliant minds.

How would you like to use your skills to contribute to development in Africa? I'm really passionate about encouraging young girls in Africa to go into STEM. My vision is to help create a larger ecosystem of innovators and problem solvers to tackle core problems ranging from sustainable electricity to transport and logistics. As we build this ecosystem of innovators, that is more inclusive of women, the opportunities will be truly endless.

Are there any African tech developments/news that you find exciting/interesting? I'm pretty excited about Fibre (www.fibre.ng), which enables Lagos residents pay rent on a monthly basis. I love that it's actually solving a problem that a lot of people face in Lagos.

Africode Mentorship: Dirichi and Osato

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Dirichi Ike-Njoku: Mentor

What do you currently do? I work as a Graduate Software Engineer at AlphaSights.

What are some of your interests/hobbies? I play and watch football, I love to dance, and I recently picked up Capoeira again (not that good, but getting there soon hopefully). I also enjoy designing interactive experiences on the web when I get the chance.

What first got you interested in tech? I think for me it was games. I'm not an ardent gamer myself but there's something magical about the power to invent alternate realities, at least within the confines of your web browser/localhost, that designing immersive game experiences affords. And it's a thing of beauty to witness people inhabit the realities you create and come away from them with perspectives/emotions that you might not even have consciously 'coded' into your design. I guess what ultimately drew me to tech then was an urge to create, and the relative ease with which even beginner-level acquaintance with the appropriate tech tools satiates this urge.

Have you built anything (product/project) interesting? One of the things I've designed that I'm most proud of was this multiplayer football web-game I made in my final year in college, last year. It was sort of enabled with voice commands and the most basic sentiment analysis, and it was the first immersive web experience I'd made. I intend to go back to it and clean it up when I get the chance. I've also been meaning to design a web dictionary for Nsibidi which is an ancient ideographic script used in parts of Southern Nigeria before colonization.

What value have you derived from being a member of the Africode community? The people and the friendships. I love that I work within a network of such talented, ambitious, and yet so down to earth people. It's humbling, and a little intimidating to be honest. And I don't mean this in a patronizing way, but I'm learning things from my mentee, Osato. She literally has the process of iterative thinking down.

How would you like to use your skills to contribute to Africa development? I would love to continue to do the sort of things I do with Africode already. To create, contribute to, and be a part of communities that unite around a shared interest in technology, and a desire to harness it to solve Africa's challenges. I think being in communities like this, and bouncing ideas around with people just as passionate about the cause as you are inevitably brings these ideas to reality.

Are there any African tech developments/news that you find exciting/interesting? I've always been a big fan of Andela (the startup that trains talented young Nigerians in software development and connects them with opportunities for employment worldwide). I've also always been a fan of initiatives like Ushahidi, the BRCK project, and the Kenyan tech ecosystem in general. These are exciting times for tech in Africa, and that there are so many growing communities of talented, "techy" young people, with a very real commitment towards contributing to positive change in their immediate communities and on the continent at large, is proof of that.

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Osato Nosakhare: Mentee

What you currently do? I’m a sophomore at Drexel University with a major in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science minor.

What are some of your interests/hobbies? I enjoy singing, watching movies, spending time with my family and friends. Also, I’m interested in computer science and definitely looking for ways/avenues to be relevant in the field. I also like shopping and eating good food!

What first got you interested in tech? I started off with Chemical Engineering; this changed when I watched Apple’s launch event in 2015. I was really excited and amazed and then I realized I wanted to be in such a community, where I would be challenged each day while developing products and providing solutions that are relevant to people. Thus, I decided I wanted to build a career around the tech field.

Have you built anything (product/project) interesting during college/professional career? Last summer, I was involved in developing an iOS mobile application for Drexel’s Recreation Center. The app was generally to provide a better user experience as well as provide users easier access to the recreational center services. I developed the framework of the equipment availability function of the app. That is, providing users the opportunity to check availability of equipment prior to their arrival at the rec center

What value have you derived from being a member of the Africode community? I really love the mentorship program. Being able to discuss my interests and goals with someone in my field is definitely a plus. I’ve learnt new ways of approaching certain challenges I face in my college career. Also, just having someone check on my academic progress, internship applications and the likes every now and then, has definitely been of tremendous help to me.

How would you like to use your skills to contribute to development in Africa? I would like to use my skills and experiences to inform people about the beauty in the tech industry, expose them to the numerous capabilities, educate the younger ones and equip them with the necessary skills to be successful in the tech industry.

Are there any African tech developments/news that you find exciting/interesting? I’m generally excited that there is an increased interest in technology in Africa. Sometime ago, I disagreed with a friend who said tech was going to be Africa’s breakthrough. Well, looking at it now, it really may be and I’m excited for that and definitely looking forward to it.

Africode Mentorship: Lanre and Siji

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Siji Ajisegiri: Mentee

What do you currently do? I am a junior, studying Computer Science at Howard University.

What are some of your interests/hobbies? My interests are gaming and cyber-security. Also, I am currently a member of white hat organization aimed at developing hacking skills and getting better at network security.

What first got you interested in tech? I was studying Information Systems before I switched over to computer science. A little part of information systems has to do with programming and that got me interested.

Have you built anything (product/project) interesting? Currently, I am trying to build a mobile application aimed at benefiting international students in the US. It has to do with the conversion/sending of money from parents to children because this seems to be a big problem. I noticed this when most of my friends started complaining about being with money and how their parents cannot send money due to the exchange rates and interests rates of banks.

What value have you derived from being a member of the Africode community? I have been able to have conversations with Lanre (my mentor) on several occasions and he has helped with showing me what to do to get familiar with life after college as a Computer Scientist.

How would you like to use your skills to contribute to Africa development? I would love to use my skills in contributing to the development in Africa by creating avenues where graduates can have a good paying job while they also do what they enjoy doing. This way, I would be able to provide network security using Africans as employees instead of having to employ European or American expatriates.

Are there any African tech developments/news that you find exciting/interesting? Currently, there is a big wave of tech development in Africa. I do not have any particular love for specific news but I am really appreciative of the fact that more people are beginning to embrace tech development in Africa.

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Lanre Adebambo: Mentor

What you currently do? I'm currently in my final year of Honours Computing Science at the University of Alberta. I also work part-time at a local startup where I help build and maintain a real time collaboration tool called Stormboard. I'm responsible for implementing and maintaining various features of the product at multiple layers of the stack. From the front end web application, to the backend API and internal facing dev tools.

What are some of your interests/hobbies? I'm a huge soccer fan. I love playing soccer, even though I do that a lot less these days. I play lots of video games in my free time (FIFA's a big one) and predictably I love programming and using technology to find interesting solutions to everyday problems.

What first got you interested in tech? Growing up, I always dreamed of inventing things. I initially planned to study Mechanical Engineering at University but after taking a Computing Science course in my first semester, I fell in love with the freedom I it allowed me to program interesting ideas to life. I realized more clearly than ever that I could be the most creative and inventive version of myself through tech and I've ran with that ever since.

Have you built anything (product/project) interesting during college/professional career? I've worked on quite a few projects at school, work and in my own personal time. Most recently, I and a few friends built an iOS app called Cappsule to allow users tag interesting moments either as pictures or videos to locations. These moments (cappsules) are shared with other users of the app and they can be viewed through the app at a later time. Check it out at mycappsule.com.

What value have you derived from being a member of the Africode community? Being a member of Africode has allowed me connect with a great community of young, driven and intelligent individuals who all have a passion to positively impact Africa and who I believe I can learn a lot from.

How would you like to use your skills to contribute to development in Africa? I believe technology is a catalyst for development and although I haven't figured out a precise path, I hope to use my skills to contribute to the growth of Africa's tech industry.

Are there any African tech developments/news that you find exciting/interesting? I'm excited about the growing global interest in Africa's tech industry as well as the growing number of tech companies coming out of Africa. One company I'm really excited about is PayStack. I think they have the potential to transform Nigeria's eCommerce industry.

Africode Mentorship: Nkem & Ore

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Nkem Okoye: Mentor

What do you currently do? Technical Program Manager at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management. My responsibilities include initiating and executing technological enhancements to the field and client facing platforms.

What are some of your interests/hobbies? Learning from people or activities. I truly enjoy meaningful conversations and enlightening discussions. I also enjoy cooking, biking and reading about news in technology, education and the international community.

What first got you interested in tech (or your work/major)? My passion for technology started in Primary School, class 6. I was fortunate to have a computer science teacher who took interest in me. When we were supposed to be 3 students to a desktop, she tried to make sure I either sat in the middle, or if possible, had a computer to myself. I loved that in using a software, you could create something new. I was also fascinated with the design and implementation of programs in an intuitive manner so I never had to read a manual to figure things out. Growing up, I also spent time playing a lot of computer games, and that deepened my interest in tech.

Have you built anything (product/project) interesting or is there something you would like to build? A product I worked on that was fulfilling was a support portal for online graduate students. This was an exciting platform to build because it was important to focus on the user’s behavior and unique needs in order to design a platform that differentiated itself, was not overwhelming and was relevant to the audience. In addition to being the Product leader, I was responsible for defining the requirements, user studies, content and some part of the coding. The project stood out for its well thought-out design and seamless implementation and my team was awarded the best project out of 21 others showcased.

How would you like to use your skills to contribute to Africa development? I want to be part of the support system for people who are striving to make it, and for those who may not realize that they are brilliant and well equipped to excel. I would like to focus on revamping education in Africa as well as connecting people and resources.

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Ore Runsewe: Mentee

What do you currently do? I’m freshman Computer Engineering major at Howard University.

What first got you interested in tech (or your work/major)? I chose Computer Engineer not just because of the huge fortunes that have been associated with the occupation but also because I was told severally to do something I would enjoy doing. I have always enjoyed inspecting computers and electrical devices trying to see how certain things were put together and one thing I have realized is that I get to understand these things very quickly. With this ability to understand, I feel I can develop and even create ideas that will be executed in the physical world. Another factor that led me to choose this major is its diverse nature. As a computer engineering major I am not restricted to one occupation. I can choose to work as a programmer, software analyst, game developer and many more.

How would you like to use your skills to contribute to African development? With the diverse nature of the job, I believe I can make an impact in so many areas to develop Africa and the rest of the world. My ultimate dream as a computer engineer is to work at Apple and then create my own Tech company in my home country, Nigeria, that will provide the technological needs for the government, the people and even private organizations at good economic rates.