Friday August 16th

Google Developer Student Club Lead and Belonging in Tech

I received a really nice email this afternoon, around 1pm

  • It said that I was chosen as a Google Developer Student Club Lead because I was a leader who believes “…that technology can do extraordinary things for the world, and can be a great mentor to others and have an impact”.
  • I was psyched, because it was important for me in my first year (particularly as I am TA-ing), to do something that can positively have an impact to the students on campus. I know that my school may not be considered a “target” school, but I don’t think that it matters. The education is stellar, and I want an opportunity to be part of helping students there to be set up for success, both at school and when they graduate. So I was pretty happy when I received the email, not just for myself, but for the students.
  • I will have to fly to Mountain View for a weekend near the end of October to be trained in person, and participate in a Hackathon, and meet with Googlers once every two weeks to be trained, and form a club on campus and mentor students. I am up for that! Challenge accepted. I also think it’s a great opportunity to become a better programmer (which I want to become because it will help me on the research implementation side!), because teaching others helps to reinforce what you know, and question what you don’t know.

I had a conversation with myself early this morning

  • I hung out with my friend at JPL, for the last time in a while. My mentor and friend. And we listened to Jazz, and it was bittersweet, but he was happy for me, and we will definitely stay in touch. I would not have come this far without him. He taught me some Japanese as we ate dim sum, we spoke about research papers, floating point errors, and mentorship and learning. It was just really great. He’s such a great mentor; he’s the ideal person to mentor young and upcoming engineers/scientists/mathematicians/physicists.
  • I came home and started packing again. I wanted to have all my books packed because my neighbour promised he’d help me take the books to a bookstore if they were packed; we could run them over to a bookstore in his car. With one glass of wine in me, I resolved to pack all my books until the wee hours of the morning.

Then I came across items from my past

  • I found robots I had made, woodworking stuff, welded stuff, craftshanks, four-bar linkages and sketchbooks, 3D printed objects, as well as hand draftings I had made. There were books on joinery and electronics and an entire stack of PCBs. I was overjoyed at 3am when I discovered that my robot still worked.

A robot made out acrylic, a four-bar linkage system and a crankshaft system using gears and bearings

And then I wondered

  • It popped into my mind “why did I ever feel like I didn’t belong in tech? Why was that ever a thought?” Here, in my room, for years, were all the signs in the world that I belonged. I was a tinkerer, I wanted to be an Imagineer, an inventor. I joked that I was the black female version of Maurice, Belle’s father in Disney’s version of Beauty and the Beast, and my brother whipped back that my name was “Mauricia”. I sat lying on the floor (because my bed had long been taken away), looking up at the ceiling, realizing that this was where I needed to be. I was just following the path of who I was all this time.

So that’s it

  • My neighbour gave me a temporary blow-up bed because they were surprised I was sleeping on the hardwood floor, but everything else is gone. I’m taking two suitcases with me and my place in Burlington is ready, and I’m ready, at least mentally, to begin a new chapter of my life.

Do Brave Things

  • this (below after photo) is an excerpt from “Dare Mighty Things”, by Teddy Roosevelt. I first heard about this from a robotics workshop at JPL I participated in many years ago (see photo). It stuck with me; that we should go out and try things, and go with courage.

  • (yes, I have an afro)

Dare Mighty Things

- "It is not the critic who counts; 
  not the man who points out how
  the strong man stumbles, 
  or where the doer of deeds 
  could have done them better
  The credit belongs to the man
  who is actually in the arena,
  whose face is marred by dust
  and sweat and blood; 
  who strives valiantly; 
  who errs, who comes short 
  again and again, 
  because there is no effort 
  without error and shortcoming;
  but who does actually 
  strive to do the deeds; 
  who knows great enthusiasms,
  the great devotions;
  who spends himself 
  in a worthy cause; 
  who at the best knows 
  in the end the triumph of high achievement,
  and who at the worst, 
  if he fails, 
  at least fails while daring greatly"

And that’s it

Written on August 16, 2019