The four young women on the Computer Glitz team wowed U.S. Bank leaders in 2018 when they presented their idea of a mobile app that taught people how to buy and sell stocks.
Five years later, we caught up with some of the former Eagan, Minnesota, team members to see what they’re up to — and how being involved in Technovation, a high school program that taught them how to use technology to solve problems, shaped their plans for the future.
Spoiler alert: They’re pursuing careers in STEM, which stands for science, technology, engineering and math.
Since their time in the mobile app competition, the girls have gone on to major in areas of medicine, computer science and cybersecurity in college.
“Technovation is the reason I wanted to pursue computer science in the first place,” said alum Ashley Chen.
Technovation is a tech education nonprofit that encourages middle- and high-school girls to explore STEM careers. For six years in a row, teams fill the U.S. Bank boardroom each spring to pitch executives their ideas, ranging from water preservation to suicide prevention and cultural literacy. The partnership with Technovation is one of several at U.S. Bank to increase the representation of women in tech; the bank is also a longtime sponsor of Girls Who Code, Girls Inc. and Girls with Impact.
During their time in Technovation, Chen, Clare Dixon and Prapthi Jayesh Sirrkay worked on a number of projects, including:
An app that teaches people to buy and sell stocks through game playA college application app specifically for technical and community collegesA donation app that would help nonprofit organizations pick up donations from donors at a scheduled time and locationA mentorship app that connects experts with girls interested in STEMAn artificial intelligence hand detection software that could improve communication for hard-of-hearing individuals in commercial settings
Prapthi Jayesh Sirrkay
Prapthi Jayesh Sirrkay is a sophomore at the University of Minnesota, majoring in genetics, cell biology and development on the pre-med track. She is currently involved in cardiovascular research and plans to become a physician.
Jayesh Sirrkay’s passion for the STEM field was inspired by her time in Technovation. “Technovation was a great experience because it inspired me to pursue my goals despite the significant disparity between men and women in the medical field,” she said.
Today, Ashley Chen is finishing up her sophomore year as a computer science major at the University of Minnesota and eventually plans to get a PhD in computer science. At school, she is a part of Code the Gap, a student organization dedicated to teaching underrepresented minorities in middle school and high school how to code.
Technovation has had a big impact on where Chen is today.
“Before Technovation, I had zero interest in coding,” she said. “I thought it was hard and boring. However, Technovation allowed me to get first-hand experience with coding and helped me discover I really liked it.”
She stays connected with Technovation by volunteering for some of its coding events as a mentor.
Clare Dixon is currently a senior at Eagan High School and is attending UW-Platteville in the fall of 2023 to pursue a bachelors degree in cybersecurity.
“Technovation brought out my ideation skills on how to solve problems and identify solutions that have already been created to see if there is a gap in the market,” she said.
Dixon credits her Technovation experience with helping her learn how to work in a fast-paced team environment.
To learn more about Technovation, go to technovationmn.org