Announcing the 2018 Minnesota Aspirations for Women in Computing Awards Honorees


he 2018 Aspirations in Computing Awards ceremony, held on April 17th and recognized 35 Minnesota high school young women for their technology related interests and achievements.  Family, friends, teachers, and local business partners and sponsor came together to support and celebrate the technology passion and interests of these incredible young women.

Along with recognition, honorees were awarded a range of  prizes including college scholarships, job shadow experiences, paid summer internship opportunities, cash rewards, and tech devices.

The ceremony also recognized Minnesota’s 2018 Aspirations Educator Honorable Mention recipient, Elizabeth Riggs Como Park High School – St. Paul, and Minnesota Aspirations Educator of the Year, Judith Roggow, DeLaSalle High School – Minneapolis.  Numerous other educators will be in attendance to cheer on their students and collgues.

On behalf of the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT), and the impressive array of sponsors and partners, the Minnesota State – IT Center of Excellence congratulates all the award recipients for their outstanding achievements.   A higher education and career path to exciting technology related opportunities, awaits you. Go for IT!

Meet the Minnesota Aspirations for Women in Computing Awards Honorees

2018 Minnesota Winners

Anika AhluwaliaAnika Ahluwalia

Junior at Wayzata High School
Anika is a State Winner, and a 2017 Honorable Mention recipient. She is also a Business Professionals of America (BPA) State Champion in Visual Basic Programming. As someone who is very interested in computer science, Anika works actively to recruit more girls in her school and district to participate in STEM activities. In the summer of 2017, she created a Programming Camp to teach middle school girls basic computing concepts using Scratch software, and she attended the Yale Young Global Scholars Program to learn about the frontiers of math and science. Anika leads the Hour of Code event at Wayzata High School and mentors freshmen as a Link Leader and a PEACE Leader. She is actively involved in the Science Olympiad team, representing them in computer science, chemistry, and material sciences events. Under the guidance of Dr. Christopher Cramer, she conducts computational chemistry research at the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota Supercomputing Institute, focusing on the development of sustainable polymers. On weekends, Anika teaches Hindi to young Indian-American children through the Chinmaya Mission Organization. She enjoys tennis and has played on the Wayzata High School varsity team for the past two years.

Aarathi Garimella

Senior at Edina High School
Aarathi is a State Winner, and a 2017 Honorable Mention recipient. She is a member of the Math Team, Debate Team, and FIRST Robotics Team, and she is the president of the Interact Club. Aarathi’s interest in STEM began as a child when she first took apart a CPU to see how it functioned. Her interest grew as she participated in countless programming and robotics camps during the summers and learned more about computers and programming. As a sophomore in high school, Aarathi took the AP Computer Science course to continue to foster this interest. When she joined Edina High School’s FIRST Robotics Team, she used Java to help program the robots. She also learned about the flexibility of computer science by creating a data collection program for scouting at tournaments. As a senior in high school, she teaches the first-year members command-based Java. Aarathi mentors Junior FIRST Lego League teams and started a Girls Who Code Club at her former middle school to give young girls an opportunity to explore computer science on a deeper level. In the future, Aarathi plans to attend college to pursue a career in mathematics.

Zoe BergZoe Berg

Junior at Lakeville South High School
Zoe is a State Winner and National Honorable Mention recipient. She was also a State Honorable Mention recipient in 2017 and received a Certificate of Distinction in 2016. Zoe started working with computers and robots when she became a founding member of The Green Girls FIRST Lego League (FLL) team at the age of nine. Over the past five years, she has been the lead computer-aided design (CAD) designer on her FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) robotics team, developing over fifty 3-D printed and laser-cut parts. She was an intern at Stellar Hearth, where she designed custom fireplaces, and at EAC Product Development Solutions, where she used Python and Raspberry Pi to program LEDs. She is passionate about teaching others about CAD and STEM and has logged over 600 hours of outreach, which contributed to her team winning the 2017 FTC World Championship Connect Award. In 2017, she met with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization to expand the Robots Without Borders program. In January, she participated in the United Nations (UN) Youth Forum in New York, sharing her STEM experiences with world leaders in sessions and streaming live on UN social media platforms.

Grace HansenGrace Hansen

Junior at Eagan High School
Grace is a State Winner and National Honorable Mention recipient. She was also a State Honorable Mention recipient in 2017 and received a Certificate of Distinction in 2016. Grace excels in accelerated math and science, but her passion is to create iOS applications in her Mobile Apps Development class, where she created an application that can be leveraged by teachers to record attendance in real time. Grace programs in Java, Swift, RobotC, HTML, Python, and Scratch. She enjoys building robots using mathematics, troubleshooting robots, building computers, and flying drones. Grace is a leader on her FTC Robotics Team, Team 7190, The Green Girls. She participates on all the robotics sub-teams to problem solve and promote collaboration. With her robotics team, she has advanced twice to the world championship and received the FTC World Championship Connect Award. She also participated in a robotics competition in Beijing, China. Grace is a National Honors Society officer, a peer tutor, and a LINK Leader, helping freshmen with their first year of high school. She developed a recruitment program, named Robotics Rush, which has increased girls’ participation in local clubs by three times. At the United Nations Youth Forum, Grace spoke on the topic of women in STEM. Outside of school, Grace is the goalie on her state champion high school varsity and club soccer teams. During the summer, she loves to stay active by interning at Land O’Lakes, hammocking with friends, and playing with her dogs. Grace is committed to learning as much as possible in as many different areas as she can, which enables her to contribute to discussions and take on leadership roles as she supports girls and diversity in STEM.

Shaza Hussein

Junior at Rosemount High School
Shaza is a State Winner. Whether it be participating in the invention fair as a child or gaining experience in engineering by incorporating technology like conductive thread into clothing to create ͞smart clothing͟, Shaza has always had an intense attraction to STEM. In the summer of 2017, she was selected to work for a week at the Mayo Clinic with pathologists, radiologists, neurologists, geneticists, and other healthcare professionals. While there, she observed and experimented with the technological ingenuity present within the world-class hospital. Shaza most enjoys classes in science and math, and she is currently enrolled in Advanced Placement Computer Science, which has swiftly risen to the ranks as her favorite class. She participates with the High School Democrats club, Abolitionists of the 21st Century, Math Team, and the Science Olympiad. Outside of school, she is involved with Coding for Girls, participates in several climate justice groups in Minneapolis, including Youth Environmental Activists of Minnesota, and is a barista at Starbucks. Shaza plans to attend college on the east coast to study computational sustainability, so she can merge her appreciation for the earth, problem-solving skills and growing fascination in computer science. With this degree she hopes to become a leader in the climate justice community by working against environmental exploitation, aiding politicians in environmental policy, considering the world left behind for future generations, and creating computational systems, such as machine learning, decision analysis and optimization, and numerical analysis, to manage societal needs for sustainable development. Shaza hopes to use all the skills gained throughout her life to pursue her passion in technology and computing and to craft a better world.

Concetta Knipe

Senior at Apple Valley High School
Connie is a State Winner, and received a Certificate of Distinction in 2017.  She has had a passion for technology since she was a child, which led to her becoming one of the founding members of the Iron Maidens, an all-girl robotics team and two-time qualifier for the World Championship. For almost four years, Concetta and her team have strived to get more girls involved in STEM. In addition to robotics, Concetta is involved in filming and television programs at her high school. She is vice president of the Eagle Media Crew, which films many events for the school, and she has contributed to award-winning productions. She enjoys robotics and filming because of the skills and creativity required in both activities. She also likes the challenge of being a woman in male-dominated fields and strives to pave the way and make a difference for other girls who have similar interests and passions. Concetta enjoys biking, drawing, reading books, listening to rock n’ roll and jazz, and mentoring other robotics teams. In college, she plans to study mass communication and mechanical engineering, which are two subjects she is passionate about. Concetta loves learning and sharing her knowledge, and she hopes to continue doing so in the future.

Ankita KunduAnkita Kundu

Senior at Wayzata High School
Ankita is a State Winner. She discovered her love for coding while learning Java during her AP Computer Science class but has had a passion for technology since elementary school. As a child, Ankita spent many hours experimenting with website design, including Google Sites and Adobe Dreamweaver. Today, Ankita loves doing basic video editing with iMovie, Filmora, and Lightworks. She also has a passion for ͞Seniors Helping Seniors,͟ an initiative she pioneered to teach senior citizens in retirement communities how to use technology to improve their lives. Ankita developed this idea after helping her grandmother with her smartphone. Every week, Ankita teaches classes at different retirement communities about the basic settings and applications on phones and tablets. She also organizes the volunteers and designs handouts for the senior citizens. Outside of technology, Ankita is in the Hennepin County Library’s Teen Advisory Group, a three-person committee that designs activities for preteens and for preschool age children. She also serves as the Advisory Board Leader for Club Y.E.S., Wayzata High School’s volunteering organization. At a Business Professionals of America national competition, Ankita placed in the top ten in one of the events. In college, Ankita plans to study computer science and business to fulfill her dream of starting a company to make technology more accessible across the entire population.

Christine OhenzuwaChristine Ohenzuwa

Junior at DeLaSalle High School
Christine is a State Winner and a National Honorable Mention recipient. At DeLaSalle, she is the co-captain of the robotics team and helps the team with mechanical engineering and programming. She also tutors underclassmen as a member of the National Honor Society. As a member of the Minneapolis Youth Congress, Christine helps implement policies and initiatives for youth in Minneapolis and surrounding areas. Some of her biggest technical achievements include programming the app ͞Pocket Pollinator,͟ which was a Minnesota Cup (MNCup) semi finalist, and helping scientists at the University of Minnesota create a 3D model of an aortic arch and explore how turbulent air flows affect mini-UAVs. Christine is an avid gamer who also enjoys creating her own games using software like Unreal Engine and RPG Maker. She has taught herself how to program in languages such as Python and BASIC. She is considering pursuing a career in computer science, specifically machine learning, as well as a career as a surgeon, an engineer, or a microbiologist. Regardless of her career choice, Christine hopes to make notable contributions to her community and the world through her work.

Leah RestadLeah Restad

Junior at East Ridge High School
Leah is a State Winner and National Honorable Mention recipient. She first discovered her interest in computer science and engineering in her middle school Computer Apps class, where she tried Hour of Code and fell in love. Leah has explored her interest through rigorous courses like AP Computer Science, Project Lead The Way (PLTW) Biomedical Science, and PLTW Computer Science Principles, as well as through programs like the University of Minnesota Summer Computer Academy and Camp Neuro. She is particularly interested in the field of bioinformatics, specifically coming up with algorithms to more efficiently find matches or errors in DNA. Leah is an active member of many organizations such as Math Team, marching band, and robotics. She shares her passion with others as a high school tutor, and she is an avid volunteer for the National Honor Society, Key Club, Girl Up, and CoderDojo. She was recently recognized as a 2017 National Finalist in COMAP’s Twentieth Annual High School Mathematical Contest in Modeling (HiMCM) and scored a perfect 36 on her ACT. In college, she hopes to focus on computer engineering and biology, where she can combine her interests to do research to help others.

Sabrina RuckerSabrina Rucker

Senior at St. Paul Academy & Summit School
Sabrina is a State Winner and National Honorable Mention recipient. Sabrina views computer science mainly as a language. Particularly, she thinks of computer science as figuring out how to ͞talk͟ to computers and how best to translate a human desire into a request the computer can understand. Sabrina has taught herself about cybersecurity and penetration testing, and she plans to pursue a career in cybersecurity to help protect people from the threats of 21st century cyber warfare. She loves reading graphic novels, including those featuring her favorite superhero Spider-Man, and books that are both thought-provoking and humorous. Sabrina speaks German, Spanish and Chinese and aspires to learn to speak Arabic and Russian. In school, she has been responsible for the theater’s lighting and sound for seven years. She has two younger sisters who mean the world to her, and she has a rescue dog at home. Sabrina has been a varsity fencer for six years and has many other skills such as weaving, calligraphy, and sketching.

Grace SuGrace Su

Junior at Mounds View High School
Grace is a State Winner. She started learning to code in fifth grade, and she taught herself how to program the Lego Mindstorms robot, HTML, CSS, Javascript, Java, and Python. Grace has attended summer programming camps at several universities and pays close attention to the development of artificial intelligence (AI). In 2017, she participated in the ACM Special Interest Group on Artificial Intelligence (ACM SIGAI) Student Essay Contest. Grace’s research essay “Unemployment in the AI Age” received one of eight awards, which provided her the opportunity to converse with the renowned AI scientist Professor Russell. She has also written a science fiction story about AI called “The Guardian” with the intent to imagine how AI could be used to benefit society and to encourage the public to embrace the development of safe AI. Grace received an Honorable Mention award from the 2018 Minnesota Scholastic Art & Writing Awards for ͞The Guardian.͟ In her community, Grace encourages girls to participate in STEM. She taught programming in the all-girls FIRST Lego League (FLL) robotics team. She is also engaged in women-in-technology events such as TWIST Science and Technology Day, Discovering IT Day by General Mills, and SPARCSdoesMicrosoft. She has been actively involved in Science Olympiad since middle school, participating in local, state and national competitions. To give back to the program, she writes and supervises tests for regional elementary and middle school Science Olympiad events. In college, Grace plans to follow her passion and major in computer science with the goal of becoming a researcher.

Daryl YapDaryl Yap

Senior at DeLaSalle High School 
Daryl is a State Winner and National Honorable Mention recipient. She is also a National Merit Finalist and a member of the National Honor Society. At a very young age, Daryl was skilled at math and science, which sparked an interest in engineering and led her to join a coding club as a freshman in high school.Daryl has taken multiple technology-related courses, such as 3-D Modeling and Advanced Python Programming, and she attended the Summer Computing Academy at the University of Minnesota. In high school, Daryl has participated in Technovation every year as themain programmer and artist for her team’s apps. She enjoys designing the GUIs, creating the artwork, and developing programs. Currently, she is a student ambassador for Technovation and serves as a board member for Technovation Minnesota. As a teaching assistant for her math and computer science teacher, Daryl tests programs, creates assignments, and prepares materials for the Honors Algebra II, Geometry, and Introduction to Programming with Python classes. Outside school, she works as a Teen Tech Squad member at the Hennepin County Library. As a squad member, she researches, designs, and leads interactive workshops for youth at the local library. Daryl’s involvement in programs, courses, and work activities helped her realize that she would like computing and technology to be central to her career, so she is planning to pursue a career in computer engineering.

Caroline ZengCaroline Zeng

Junior at Wayzata High School
Caroline is a State Winner and National Honorable Mention recipient who is passionate about promoting girls in STEM. She first learned how to code during her freshman year of high school while learning Java in AP Computer Science. Caroline attended the Summer Computing Academy at the University of Minnesota to learn Python with other girls interested in STEM, returning the year after to be a teaching assistant. In her district’s middle schools, Caroline set up Technovation clubs supporting girls participating in the program, where girls form teams, create apps that improve society, and compete internationally. Her work promoting the program led her to become a student ambassador and a member of the Technovation[MN] board. Caroline has been a Girl Scout for twelve years and has earned all three Bronze, Silver, and Gold service awards. She is currently working to introduce a fun, hands-on STEM initiative to Girl Scouts, where young girls learn how to code and create their own apps, games, and more. In her free time, she likes to draw, paint, learn new languages, and dance. She is interested in a wide variety of dancing styles, and she is a co-founder and the choreography teacher of a dance group at her school. At the Stanford AI Laboratory Outreach Summer Program, she gained experience in computer vision research detecting hospitals’ sanitation levels. Because of this experience, Caroline plans to study computer science, especially artificial intelligence.

Stuti AroraStuti Arora

Sophomore at Maple Grove High School
Stuti is a State Honorable Mention recipient. She is an enthusiastic STEM learner with a passion for robotics, spending every available moment in her robotics team’s lab, the ͞Pentagon.͟ She became interested in programming when she was introduced to Scratch as part of her fourth-grade gifted education class. After that, she spent many summers learning the basics of programming through self-study and technology camps, building her skills in HTML5, CSS and Java. She was the only programmer on her FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) Robotics team who went to the state competition this past season. Stuti started a mentor program called Crimson GEARs (Girls in Engineering and Robotics) with the goal to inspire and encourage all girls to participate and stay active in STEM activities. As part of GEARs, Stuti hosted Girl Scout troops and organized events at elementary schools. She hopes to expand this program to every Minnesota school. She is also an active participant on her High School Girl Up club. She maintains a busy schedule with several AP classes, band practices, and vocal lessons while pursuing college level calculus courses through the University of Minnesota Talented Youth Mathematics Program (UMTYMP). Stuti regularly volunteers for the Chance Foundation, whose mission is to empower underprivileged children by providing resources for education, health and life skills development. Every other week, she volunteers at the Maple Grove Hospital and teaches Hindi language at the community temple. Stuti plans to pursue a degree in computer science and seek research opportunities in artificial intelligence and cyber security.

Sailaja BommareddySailaja Bommareddy

Senior at East Ridge High School
Sailaja is a State Honorable Mention recipient. From a young age, she has been interested in STEM and has an affinity for math and science, always striving to learn more. When thinking about what she wants to be when she ͞grows up,͟ Sailaja has always envisioned herself working in the fields of science, math or technology and hopes to become a biomedical engineer with a minor or double major in computer science. Sailaja has always had a passion for helping others and volunteering in her community. She serves as the vice president of her school’s Key Club and has been on the board for two years. Sailaja is also a member of the National Honor Society and Tri-M (Musical Honor Society). Through her involvement in clubs as well as local organizations, Sailaja has completed over 500 service hours during her high school career. She is the captain of her school’s math league for the second year and has participated on the varsity team since sophomore year. Sailaja has taken at least one Project Lead The Way (PLTW) class each year of high school. She also plays on the varsity girls tennis team, which inspired her research project for her PLTW engineering class. In the future, Sailaja would love to not only continue her current projects and passions but also find new interests such as research in surgical tools. Overall, Sailaja hopes to combine her love of STEM with helping as many people as she can.

Erica Broeker

Junior at Eagan High School
Erica is a State Honorable Mention recipient. She is also a peer tutor and a National Honor Society member. Erica has participated on The Green Girls FIRST robotics team for six years. As a part of this team, she has greatly expanded her knowledge of the technical world, learned what basic code looks like in Java, experienced what it is like to work on a team to develop a working robot, and learned how to be a project manager. Some of her biggest accomplishments with her robotics team include going to the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) World Championship twice, winning the Connect Award at the 2017 FTC World Championship, competing in Beijing at the World Adolescent Robot Contest, presenting at the United Nations Youth Forum, and dedicating hundreds of hours of her time to volunteering. Erica has participated in numerous STEM learning camps, such as the Microsoft DigiGirlz event, and has been instrumental in organizing STEM clubs for underserved groups, such as girls with disabilities and foster children, exposing them to opportunities in STEM. She is currently taking multiple AP and honors classes and plans to take AP Computer Science as a senior so that she can expand her knowledge of coding in Java. Erica plans to study biomedical engineering in college to pursue a career as a biomedical engineer.

Fiona ChowFiona Chow

Senior at Burnsville High School
Fiona is a State Honorable Mention recipient and received a 2017 Certificate of Distinction.  She has been captivated by STEM since she was nine years old. A shared passion of STEM inspired Fiona and three other students to create a Women in STEM Club at their high school. The goal of the club is to create opportunities for other young women to explore their STEM-related interests by participating in various projects and field trips and speaking with female professionals in STEM fields. In addition to serving as a leader of the Women in STEM Club, Fiona is also involved in many other organizations. Her commitments as a Senior Class Officer, vice president of the Burnsville Interact Club, BurnsvilleStrong leader, and three-year captain of the Burnsville Alpine Ski Team have provided her many eye-opening experiences. Fiona realized the importance of a positive mentality after experiencing first-hand how a negative mentality impacted her performance at one of her alpine ski team races. This was a pivotal moment for Fiona and motivates her to be mentally stronger when facing daily challenges, and she works to empower others to do the same. This passion, combined with her love for STEM, fuels Fiona’s ambition to utilize her skills to make a positive impact on the world.

Katelyn FranceKatelyn France

Senior at Hinckley-Finlayson High School
Katelyn is a State Honorable Mention recipient.  She became involved with STEM as a freshman at Hinckley-Finlayson High School, where an online ad inspired her to create a now-patented system of QR code medical bracelets and accompanying Bluetooth technology. Katleyn has continued her passion in STEM and has advanced from local, regional, state, national, and international science competitions, placing in the top 10% at most competitions. She also placed as a semi-finalist in the Minnesota Cup, a business and entrepreneurial competition. These experiences pushed her to learn the basics of coding through Treehouse, Khan Academy, and other online forums. She hopes to encourage her school to increase the amount of STEM related classes beyond the sole Engineering class. In school, Katelyn is involved in most of the extracurricular activities that her high school offers, with leadership roles in FIRST Robotics, Knowledge Bowl, Golf, Science Club, Positive Jags, and FOR Club. She is also a regular volunteer at the local elementary school, spending time with the kids and encouraging them to take an interest in STEM. Her goals for the future are to attend the Honors program at University of Minnesota – Duluth and major in Biochemistry and Engineering, with a minor in German. Katelyn is working towards becoming a biomedical researcher with a focus on the integration of technology into the study of etiology.

Emilia HidalgoEmilia Hidalgo

Senior at Great River High School
Emilia is a State Honorable Mention recipient, who through the PSEO program has been taking classes full time at the University of Minnesota since her junior year of high school. She is a driven, dependable student with a love of learning. She has continually pursued her interest in coding, which included participation in the Technovation Challenge as a freshman, then founding a coding club and a university coding class the following year. The limits of her small school in STEM areas are what pushed her to choose to apply to the competitive PSEO program at the U of M, during which she has taken two college math classes including Calculus II and three college science classes, each a year’s worth of high school credit. Emilia balances out her STEM interests with language, art and English classes. She is fluent in French and loves creative writing. Outside of school, Emilia trains in the circus arts through the youth organization Circus Juventas, working nightly on various aerial apparatus, as well as spending several hours each week coaching younger students in her areas of expertise. Through the Advance IT community she is excited to meet other smart women like her, who share her passion for technology and innovation.

Gabrielle HillGabrielle Hill

Junior DeLaSalle High School
Gabrielle is a State Honorable Mention recipient. She began her journey into technology her freshman year of high school after she decided to join the Technovation Challenge and learn how to code using MIT App Inventor in order to create a de-stressing app aimed at students her age. The following year, she participated in Technovation again and created a data collecting app regarding different bee species aimed toward citizen scientists called Pocket Pollinator. Pocket Pollinator advanced to the semi-finals of the Minnesota Cup – Youth Division in 2017. Gabrielle is spearheading a project with DeLaSalle High School’s environmental club to place two beehives on school grounds to draw awareness to plummeting pollinator populations and educate students on how best to protect our bees. She is passionate about women pursuing STEM careers and addresses audiences about the importance of closing the gender gap in STEM fields. Gabrielle also practices Olympic Fencing at the Center for the Blade Arts, and has been the Minnesota High School State Champion in Women’s Epee for three years in a row. Gabrielle’s future plans center on continuing to develop and polish Pocket Pollinator, in the hopes of expanding to a nationwide level. She plans to attend college, hoping to combine environmental science, Afro-American studies, and technology in her future careers.

Ayantu HundessaAyantu Hundessa

Junior at South High School
Ayantu is a State Honorable Mention receipient. Starting off high school she was unsure of what electives to take when her parents encouraged her to enroll in an Intro to Engineering in 9th grade and even though she didn’t expect to feel very passionate about she continues on and enrolled in the Principles of Engineering class the following year. Ayantu enjoys what she is doing and is now taking. AP Computer Science just for fun. After high school, Ayantu plans to pursue a college degree program in the STEM field.

Claire JensenClaire Jensen

Sophomore at South High School
Claire is a State Honorable Mention recipient. She has had a passion for STEM since 4th grade, when she was invited to the University of Minnesota for a Girls Excel in Math program. Claire applied and was accepted to an all-girls STEM program called Girls Inc. Through labs, field trips, and an internship, this 5-year program continues to open up her eyes to the possibilities of STEM, and where it can take her. During freshman year, Claire was one of 200 high school students internationally selected to participate in the Global Youth Institute, because of an outstanding paper on food security in Bolivia. She traveled to Des Moines, where she was named a Borlaug Scholar. Claire is enrolled in AP Computer Science Principles, which is the first computer science class at her high school. She assisted in recruiting students to the first all-girls coding club at her school; Sisters-n-Technology. Claire is currently learning JavaScript in class at school, and refining her HTML and CSS skills outside of school. When she is not coding, Claire enjoys other things like playing sports, reading, and listening to music along with snowboarding in the winter, and sprinting for her track and field team in the spring. Claire looks forward to a future in computer or environmental science.

Shin-Tsz (Lucy) KuoShin-Tsz (Lucy) Kuo

Junior at Wayzata High School
Lucy is a State Honorable Mention recipient whose enthusiasm for technology stemmed at an early age from her father’s background in computer science. The creations and problem solving used in technology inspired her to pursue STEM in the upcoming years, and the versatility of its uses fascinated her. Lucy has enjoyed attending CoderDojo sessions and various technology, engineering, and math programs around the Twin Cities. She has also attended SPARCS events such as Salesforce Trailhead. This past summer she took part in a coding program where she began website design and familiarizing herself with HTML and JavaScript, and created an interactive informational website along with games. Via Codecademy and W3Schools she has increased her knowledge in Python as well as other languages. In school Lucy participates in Model UN and Business Professionals of America. She also enjoys orchestra and track. Currently she is in a coding club at the Uof M and plans on furthering her computing aspirations by taking diverse computer science courses in the future.

Rose LamRose Lam

Senior at Mounds View High School
Rose is a State Honorable Mention recipient. Over the past nine years, she has competed with her FIRST Tech Challenge team, at the local, state, regional, and international levels. She has many roles on the team which include programmer, robot driver, graphic designer, public relations manager, outreach organizer, and bookkeeper. She believes the best part of robotics is the inspiring and supportive community throughout Minnesota and the rest of the world. Rose is helping lead a long-term team project to create equal access to robotics programs throughout their school district. Over the past two years, they have raised over $20k and rallied administrative support for robotics throughout the district, resulting in the creation of over 50 elementary school robotics teams. This effort will allow district students to participate in robotics throughout all 13 years of schooling.  Following high school, Rose plans to go to college for graphic design with a minor in computer science.”

Tessa MachadoTessa Machado

Senior at Mankato East High School
Tessa is a State Honorable Mention recipient. She knew she wanted to be an engineer early, when a FIRST robotics team came to her middle school to show off their robot. In the 8th grade Tessa decided to take some of the engineering classes at high school and join the Vex robotics team. Through Vex Robotics and classes she increased her knowledge about programming and the incredible ways it can shape the world. She learned how to automatically and manually program a CNC mill to machine parts using G-Code. During a ͞girls day͟ at Microsoft she was fascinated about some of the projects they and enjoyed meeting women who are actually working in the industry while at Microsoft. During her junior year, Tessa learned how to program the robots in Vex Robotics using the Robot-C programming platform. She used her knowledge of this platform to create a program that automatically tests the speeds the motors are running at which provides the teams with information about what type of gears are inside the motor and the health of the motor itself. This was an enormous benefit to the seven high school Vex Robotics teams who were dealing with motors that were constantly breaking. Tessa loves to share her knowledge in programming Vex robots by mentoring students at the Vex Robotics summer camp. Next year she will be attending South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, majoring in Metallurgical Engineering.  

Ava MasseAva Masse

Junior Eden Prairie High School
Ava is a State Honorable Mention recipient, and received a 2017 Certificate of Distinction.  She was exposed to programming for the first time through the Hour of Code. In middle school, Ava began to teach herself French through websites like Duolingo and Memrise and became curious about the mechanics of the websites themselves. She delved into materials on Khan Academy and from her teachers she learned the basics of HTML and CSS. In freshman year, she expanded upon her HTML/CSS skills as part of the website team at St. Cloud State University’s Scientific Discovery Program. She also started to learn the basics of JavaScript, Python, and SQL. Because of these efforts, she was one of the 2017 Certificate of Distinction honorees. This connected her to wonderful job shadows across the Twin Cities in and informative events at Microsoft on Salesforce. Even though she is not directly involved in a technology course at her high school, AP Calculus has given her many insights into how computers work with numbers. She is currently involved in a multitude of extra-curricular activities, including TRACE Tutoring, her high school’s program for student-based volunteer tutoring and EPHS BlueBirds, a project to raise Autism awareness. In the near future, Ava hopes to attend the Advanced Program in Technology and Science, the continuation of the Scientific Discovery Program, and find a summer job in STEM. She plans on majoring or minoring in computer science.

Kaitlin PierceKaitlin Pierce

Junior at Rosemount High School
Kaitlin is a State Honorable Mention recipient. Her aerospace engineer father homeschooled her introducing Visual Basic and Java into her school classes when she was 10 years old. She took the AP Computer Science Exam in eighth grade and scored a four. Currently, as a high school junior, Kaitlin continues to grow in the field of computing and technology as she takes CSE classes at the University of Minnesota in addition to her pre-engineering classes including Calculus and Physics. Writing and music are Kaitlin’s two favored past times. The experiences she had during her ten years spent in Jinja provided her with excellent content for her current work-in-progress, a book of short stories and poetry. She has already self-published one novel. Kaitlin plans on majoring in Biomedical Engineering with a minor in Computer Science. She hopes to head research for faster, more efficient, and more accessible neural prosthetics, especially for poorer children of developing countries such as Uganda where she grew up.

Abigail RohAbigail Roh

Sophomore at Breck School
Abigail is a State Honorable Mention recipient. In seventh grade, she joined a science club, sparking her love for STEM. Every year since then, she has conducted original research projects. As a freshman, she co-designed and developed a prototype, using 3D printing technology, of a device that vibrates when items, such as a hearing aid, go missing. The cost effective device allowed individuals to keep track of wearable technology, and was especially beneficial to younger children and older adults. Inspired by the applications of computer science, she began teaching herself Python and spent 320 hours under the guidance of a mentor co-writing a lexical analysis tool. The tool was used to analyze how support was offered in almost 16 million comments written to patients using an online health community. This information can help people gain a better understanding of how patients, family, and friends interact in an online setting. Abigail enjoys playing tennis and violin, and volunteering with Special Olympics. She is looking forward to continuing her education in programming languages and plans to pursue a career that uses computer science and technology to provide solutions to pressing issues in the community and world.

Madeline SandishMadeline Sandish

Senior at Eagan High School
Maddie is a State Honorable Mention recipient.  Since childhood, Maddie has exhibited her love of learning, and has excelled in all of her GT, Honors, and AP curriculum, but has demonstrated her greatest passion for math, technology, literature and language. Prior to high school, Maddie taught herself JavaScript and SQL using Khan Academy and then continued to learn HTML and CSS via Codecademy.   Maddie enjoys Web Development, AP Computer Science and is currently in Mobile Application Development, where she is creating an application that will allow coaches to time multiple athletes in the same race and be made available via the App Store. Maddie had the pleasure of a mentor experience at the Nerdery, where she created a web application called Orange Slice using JavaScript and HTML.  The application allows users to safely search the web by giving advance warning of toxic or offensive content. In addition to her academic focus, Maddie is a member of the National Honor Society, Captain of the Knowledge Bowl team, and Leader of the EHS Spectrums group. She volunteers at the local library, including the Hour of Code event, and is an active member of the GSA Youth Leadership Council.  Maddie will be attending Gustavus Adolphus College, where she will major in Computer Science and French.

Anusha SharmaAnusha Sharma

Junior at Eagan High School
Anusha is a State Honorable Mention recipient. She has grown up with an ever-increasing interest in science, technology, and engineering.  Anusha’s interests were initially sparked by her involvement in the FIRST robotics program, and to this day, the FIRST program has continued to help her grow and understand the depth of technology and engineering. Her interest in coding was further intensified when she took AP Computer Science this year. Faced with problems to solve in class every day, she was able to develop her logical-thinking skills, as well as a passion for the art of coding. This class not only increased her interest in the subject, but also provided her with the opportunity to become the lead of Women In Robotics Empowering Sisters (WIRES), where she encourages young women to join STEM fields by doing various site visits and holding panels. This year Anusha was also selected as a Chairman’s speaker for her robotics team where she performed a 7-minute prepared speech in front of judges winning the ever prestigious chairman’s award, helping the team move on to the world championships. Anusha plans to pursue a career in Computer Science or Computer Engineering.

Rachel SpringerRachel Springer

Sophomore at Southwest High School
Rachel is a State Honorable Mention recipient. She initially became interested in technology when she joined the FIRST Lego League program in her school in fourth grade. For the past three years she has been a member of the FIRST Tech Challenge team, and leads her team in programming and design. She taught herself Java in her first year in the program and loves learning new algorithms and finding applications of mathematics to programming. She began learning CAD last year and has designed many parts and mechanisms for her robotics team using Inventor, Creo and Solidworks. This season she has led the team in designing a completely custom robot, and has enjoyed learning as much as she can about 3D printing and other fabrication technologies. Rachel is very passionate about leaving an impact on her community and making STEM accessible to all students. With her team, Rachel helped start 11 new FTC teams in Minneapolis Public Schools through the Minneapolis Urban Robotics Alliance. She has led presentations at workshops through this program and mentored students one-on-one to encourage their interest in robotics, programming, and STEM.Rachel is a member of Southwest High School’s math team and has placed in the top three in the division for the past two years. She is also a member of her school’s National Honor Society and enjoys playing clarinet in her school’s wind ensemble.

Marie PenaMarie Pena

Senior at Apple Valley High School
Marie is a National Honorable Mention recipient, and 2017 State Winner. This past school year Marie founded the E3 STEM Leadership team to give a stronger voice to the program and the students participating in it.  Marie’s passions lie in video gaming and technology. Growing up with a family passionate about technology, and how computers work, she followed suit. Helping her father build and fix computers at a young age and later being able to format and configure her whole family’s network of laptops and PCs. In school taking courses on web design, computer science, Cisco Networking, television broadcasting and graphic design. Participating in after school clubs such as the sports and entertainment broadcasting club, the school newspaper, Film Club, National Honor Society, and of course FIRST Tech Challenge Robotics. Marie uses what she’s learned to propel her family’s startup multimedia business, as well as working with video game developers, other startup companies, and students to optimize their potential and help them achieve their goals. In the future, she plans on continuing to work with businesses and the STEM community while studying both digital marketing and game development.

Preeti PidatalaPreeti Pidatala

Junior at Wayzata High School
Preeti is National Honorable Mention recipient, and 2017 State Winner. Her interest in computer science was sparked in elementary school when she spent time exploring the basic game software SCRATCH. Her interest in computer science grew in high school when she joined her school’s FIRST robotics program, where she found an exciting technological community. Preeti has taken a very active role on her robotics team and continues to further her computer knowledge through her leadership position as captain. Throughout high school, Preeti has taken a variety of computing courses, many of them at a college level. She has acquired skills in Java, C++, Python, and HTML. Preeti holds a STEM-related job in which she teaches young children science and basic robotics. She is a member of the New York Academy of Science’s Junior Academy, an international program designed to create tangible solutions to real-world problems through STEM. With this program, she has done extensive research on sustainable consumption to decrease the human footprint on the planet. When she goes to college, Preeti is planning to pursue artificial intelligence and robotics.

Victoria Pierce

Senior at Rosemount High School
Victoria is a National Honorable Mention recipient, and 2017 State Winner. She is taking classes at the University of Minnesota full time. She has also taken a few different computer science courses in Visual Basic and Android Programming as well as AP Computer Science. Currently, she is taking a Discrete Structures class. Her greatest technical accomplishment so far is the work she has done at SPS Commerce where she works as a Software Engineer. In addition to her interests in the technical fields, she is passionate about the arts and languages. She loves Irish and Classical music and plays Guitar, Violin, Banjo, and Piano. At National Competitions (qualifying competitions for Worlds in Ireland), she placed first in both solo and individual categories qualifying to represent the United States at Worlds in the under 18 category. In addition, she is passionate about writing and has written three novels about her childhood as a Missionary Kid in Jinja, Uganda, East Africa where she lived for ten years. As for college, she is deciding between Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Minnesota but she knows she is interested in majoring in Biomedical Engineering with a double minor in Computer Science and Arabic.

Tracey TreatTracey Treat

Senior at Rosemount High School
Tracey is a National Honorable Mention winner. She is currently  attending Normandale Community College through PSEO. Tracey has been mentoring at CoderDojo Twin Cities since she was in middle school, and is the team lead of CoderDojo TC’s AppInventor group. She also mentors for Rebecca CoderDojoTechnovation, and CodeSavvy. This year, Tracey is one of the coaches of a Technovation team at Falcon Ridge Middle School. She was a speaker at DevOpsDays Minneapolis 2016, sharing with the group her experiences as a young woman interested in technology. Tracey has been attending the DevOpsDays Minneapolis conference since it started in 2014, and hopes to be a coordinator for the event in the future. Tracey currently feeds her interest in technology by developing websites and games to showcase her art, music, and writing. In the future, she aspires to work in a career that utilizes her passion for coding and art. 


Judith RoggowJudith Roggow

Teacher at DeLaSalle High School
Judith Roggow is a Librarian and Technology Integrationist who is passionate about digital literacy skills that enable people to use technology for informed, active participation in our digital culture. She is passionate about inspiring students—especially young women—to explore the field of technology as a career. A highly motivated individual with strong people and communication skills, she encourages students to expand their horizons. Judith has a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science from the University of Wisconsin. Before returning to the world of education at DeLaSalle High School, she worked in corporate libraries for years at CenterPoint Energy, private investment bank Goldsmith Agio Helms, and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Additionally, she served as a Regional Library Consultant for SELCO/SELS in southeast Minnesota.

Judith is skilled in areas beyond digital and information literacy, including business planning, office technology, business, and competitor research. She started a student technology team at DeLaSalle, and has been involved in the Girls Coding – Technovation team since its inception in 2015. Judith is energized by helping people integrate technology to become more effective, efficient users of information in today’s digital-rich society.

2018 Minnesota Educator Honorable Mention Award

Elizabeth RiggsElizabeth Riggs

Teacher at Como Park High School
Liz is an ELL teacher at Como Park Senior High School in St. Paul. In addition to teaching Geography and English Literacy for newcomers, she co-teaches Chemistry. This is her second year mentoring Como Park Senior High School’s Technovation Apps Club, where girls design, code, and market mobile apps that benefit their communities. Both of Como’s apps club teams are comprised entirely of new immigrants and refugees.

Liz is grateful to be working with an enthusiastic group of app developers and hopes to continue to grow the club’s enrollment, particularly among students from diverse backgrounds.

Liz holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism (’07) from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, and a Master of Arts in Teaching (’16) from Hamline University.

Special Thanks to our Educator Endorsers

The following people provided support and endorsement to one or more of the selected award honorees. On behalf of the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT), the Minnesota Aspirations in Computing Award Committee, the honorees and their families, we wish to acknowledge and express our appreciation for their education and career readiness support.

Michael Arlt, Lakeville South High School
Shannon Braun, Eagan High School
Kevin Dirksen, Eagan High School
Cindy Drahos, Burnsville High School
Brian Fendrich, Rosemount High School
Karl Griffin, South High School
Michelle Grunewald, Eden Prairie High School
Derek Haidle, Maple Grove Senior High School
Princesa Hansen, Breck School
Teresa Hichens Olson, Great River School
Tika Kude, Wayzata High School
Candace Lindow-Davies, Eagan High School
Kate Lockwood, St Paul Academy
Jim Lynch, Apple Valley High School
Kaitie O’Bryan, Mounds View High School
Gabriel Pass, Southwest High School
Nancy Poulos, Edina High School
Joe Ranger, Hinckley-Finlayson High School
Thomas Reinartz, Rosemount High School
Judith Roggow, DelaSalle High School
Kathy Simson, Wayzata High School
David Stahl, Mankato East High School
Chad Terry, Rosemount High School
Donald Winston, East Ridge High School
Wing Yi Wong, University of Minnesota

GRAND PRIZE: Summer Internships

This is the sixth year the awards program has offered an internship as a Grand Prize. This year we are delighted that five companies are providing honorees a summer paid internship. Some companies are hiring numerous awardees. We extend our sincere appreciation to the noted internship providers.

HelpSystems – Ankita Kundu

Land O’Lakes, Inc. – Stuti Arora, Fiona Chow

PeopleNet – Sailaja Bommareddy, Aarathi Garimella

SPS Commerce – Grace Hansen, Victoria Pierce, Madeline Sandish, Rachel Springer

Thomson Reuters – Marie Pena

Minnesota State Scholarships

This year’s program features a $2,000 scholarship to St. Cloud State University, a member of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. Three $1,000 scholarships have also been awarded for honorees to attend the higher education institution of their choice. This is the second year that sponsor contributions have helped to fund four college scholarships.

We’re especially grateful to Burnsville High School teacher Cindy Drahos, and her husband Jim, for their generous financial gift, as well as the 22 businesses and organizations who provided funding support which allows the scholarship program, and the SPARCS year-round program to flourish.

Shaza Hussein – Rosemount High School, $1,000 in 2019 to attend the University of Minnesota or Cornell University, New York. Study interests: Environmental and Computer Science

Concetta Knipe – Apple Valley High School, $2,000 in 2018 to attend St. Cloud State University. Study Interests: Mechanical Engineering and Mass Communications

Kaitlin Pierce – Rosemount High School, $1,000 in 2019 to attend Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, New York. Study interests: Neuroscience and Biomedical Engineering

Tracey Treat – Rosemount High School, $1,000 in 2018 to attend an institution to be determined. Tracey currently attends Normandale Community College. Study interests: Computer Science