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.
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.