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From Tickle Me Elmo! With Dad – To Building An Android App In High School For The Technovation Challenge

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Technovation has given me the confidence to pursue a science/business/technology career.

By Lisa Illés (Sophomore, Albany High School)

It all started with Tickle Me Elmo. I was one and a half and my dad took me on his lap and showed me the first computer game of my life, Tickle Me Elmo!

Later in life, like many kids my age, I suffered through a Club Penguin, Facebook, and a computer game obsession. Growing up with a computer in the house put entertainment and information at my fingertips. My curiosity on any subject can be instantly satisfied through Google or Wikipedia. I can watch my favorite TV shows on Hulu or Netflix anytime. For all of my life, I have been an avid consumer of technology.

It was not until I participated in the app designing contest known as the Technovation Challenge that I began to really value the thought, business strategy, and coding behind all of the games and websites that most people take for granted.

The skills all technology entrepreneurs need to succeed are taught during the Technovation Challenge program. I was taught to code using MIT’s app inventor, which was more difficult than expected. Writing a business plan and a pitch was also a key part of the experience.

My team and spent hours perfecting our 4 minute pitch and business plan. Coding took even longer, even if all we had to code was a simple prototype. The app designing contest I entered thinking it would be a good thing to put on my college application, has really changed my attitude toward technology, and bought me a new perspective on it, namely that of a creator of technology. When I see a website such as Facebook or Netflix, I think about the creativity, pitching, and coding that the founders did to get their website up and running on the internet. I don’t really take these websites for granted anymore.

Technovation is not just about designing mobile applications, it is as Technovation Challenge’s own Tara Chklovski says, getting young women to be able to say to themselves, “yes, I can do this.” Technovation has given me the confidence to pursue a science/business/technology career.

It has changed the way I think about my future, and what I want to do with the rest of my life. I used to think that the business world was one of greedy men in suits who only care about the money in their pocket. I realized how wrong I was about this after I met some of the business-entrepreneurs who were at the Technovation Challenge pitch nights.

The skills I learned through technovation went far beyond what I learn on the average school day. The people I have met through Technovation have helped me more than they know. They were living proof that it was possible for woman to have successful careers in science in technology. They reinforced the message Technovation is trying to send; if you work hard you can do anything. Now I know I can do anything too.

Editor’s note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below.

About the guest blogger: Lisa Illés is a sophomore at Albany High School, in Albany, CA. Lisa and her team, Coffee Beans & Co, won the 2012 Technovation Challenge by coming up with the Android application StudiCafé. StudiCafé is an AP science study application which combines studying with flashcards with a virtual world to keep students interested and motivated. Lisa comes up with innoative ideas on a daily basis, like a way to test cosmetics for their toxicity using a strip of paper (similar to the way litmus paper can detect the pH of a compound). Lisa has wanted to stop global warming since she was 10, and has come up with several (somewhat crazy) ways to stop it since then.