The 2022 Minnesota Aspirations in Computing Award State Winners

The 2022 Minnesota Aspirations in Computing Award State Winners

The Minnesota Aspirations in Computing Awards (MNAiC) program is proud to announce the 2022 class of honorees, selected from high schools throughout Minnesota by national and state review teams.

Family, friends, educators, business partners and sponsors will gather to support and celebrate the award recipients remarkable I.T. achievements at a virtual ceremony the evening of April 13th.

State Award Winners have significantly demonstrated an interest in and an aptitude for computing.

State winners are featured in local and statewide media and eligible for a range of prizes including mentoring/job shadow experiences, paid summer internships, cash rewards, swag, and trophies.

Honorees also receive access to exclusive resources provided by the National Center of Women and Information Technology (NCWIT).

Watch the 2022 Virtual Ceremony Here

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Page Down to See All 20 Winners


Stavya Arora

Junior at Maple Grove High School

Stavya is a State Winner. She was also a State Honorable Mention recipient in 2020. Stavya  is a math enthusiast with a deep passion for robotics. Her interest in math started early when she regularly won Math Masters and Continental Math League (CML) competitions in elementary school. She got accepted to the University of Minnesota’s Talented Youth Math Program (UMTYMP) in 6th grade and completed all college level math by 10th grade. She placed in the top 5 percentile in the American Mathematics Contest AMC10 and AMC12 and was invited to take the prestigious AIME test. Stavya is a captain of her school’s FIRST Robotics program and leads a girls mentor program called the Crimson GEARs (Girls in Engineering and RoboticS). This program inspires and encourages girls to participate and stay active in STEM related activities. Stavya also placed first in the state for the Health Informatics and Creative Problem-Solving competitions held by Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA). Currently, Stavya is heavily involved in research at the University of Minnesota, focused on opioid addiction recovery in online communities. She also enjoys volunteering at her local temple, listening to music and hanging out with friends. Stavya plans to pursue a degree in Computer Science in college with a focus on artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Riya Bharti

Senior at East Ridge High School

Riya is a State Winner. Her passion for coding ignited when she took a coding course at the University of Michigan. From there, she went on to work with a Cybersecurity engineer on coding projects using Python. She has also worked on web design for several local groups and is now a technology intern with the Indian Association of Minnesota. Additionally, Riya is the captain of her FIRST Robotics Competition team, the ERRORs. As captain, Riya project manages, designs, and builds. In school, Riya has taken many AP classes, earning her the AP Scholar with distinction award in 2020. Riya also holds leadership positions in NCHS, NHS, Environmental Club, and ASL club. She participates in Student Cabinet, Tri-M, District Youth Council, and Swim and Dive. She hopes to continue to take rigorous classes and join exciting clubs as she majors in Computer Science at a 4-year college or university this fall. Outside of school, Riya works with her local library to teach technology skills. She teaches seniors how to use a computer to do daily tasks and creates coding activities for teens and kids. She also enjoys getting involved in her community, by creating and distributing STEM kits to families in need and teaching 2nd-5th grade Girl Scouts to code using fun activities and cubelets. Riya hopes to bring STEM to as many people as possible. To do this, she is a part of the FIRST Upper Midwest Diversity and Inclusion committee that helps teams become more inclusive.

Thanmayee Boyapati

Senior at Shakopee High School

Thanmayee is a State Winner. Her first successful java project when she joined FIRST Robotics was to display the limelight camera and the USB camera on Shuffleboard, a large interface. This led her to want to expand her knowledge and challenge herself. Over the past three years, she progressed from being a complete beginner in programming to programming lead on her team, where she continued to expand her knowledge while also teaching others. For outreach, she mentored underprivileged students at the Red Lake Indian Reservation. The students did not have access to the internet or basic electronic devices, but despite these challenges, Thanmayee taught them how to code in Arduino and helped them build and code a little mouse robot. She also played a major role in creating a site-to-site VPN (Virtual Private Network), which induces no modification for robot or driver stations and an inexpensive Raspberry VPN, for her team. This enabled her robotics team to write and test the robot code remotely. Her passion for programming deepened her understanding and pushed her to expand her knowledge by learning other languages. Over the summer, she took several courses and watched several videos and taught herself the basics of Python. She plans to major in Computer Science at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities and work with technology in the future.

Elise Buzzell

Junior at Two Rivers High School

Elise is a State Winner. She was an Honorable Mention recipient in 2021 and a Certificate of Distinction recipient in 2020. She identified early on that she was interested and excited by STEM. What started with participating in engineering challenges through Odyssey of the Mind has resulted in a passion for everything STEM. For the next 4 years she continued in Odyssey and took on First Lego League. During that time, she went to World Finals twice for Odyssey and went to sectionals, regionals, and state twice in First Lego League. In the past 5 years she decided to take programming courses such as App Camp for Girls, Rebecca Coder Dojo, GWC Summer Immersion Camp, Camp Explore, MTU SYP Women in Computer Science, and more. Elise participated in the Technovation[Girls] Challenge for 3 years in a row. This past season, the app she and her teammate made ended up being a semifinalist. She has also been on the TechGirlz Teen Advisory Board for 2 years helping promote TechGirlz and assisting with workshops to help get young girls interested in STEM. In addition, she is on her school’s Student Council and National Honors Society. Elise hopes to continue her love for technology and major in Software Engineering or Computer Science. In her spare time Elise enjoys participating in school sports such as golf, soccer, and winter guard. She also has enjoyed dancing with a local dance studio for the past 13 years. 

Z Gibson

Junior at Southwest High School

Z is a State Winner. While they have always held an interest in technology, their passion for programming started in 7th grade when they joined FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) Robotics.  
They are a primary programmer on their team, and are also a FIRST Dean’s List Finalist. Z always aims to challenge themself and learn new skills. Through robotics, they have learned Java, and have taught themself Python. They are also enrolled in their school’s AP Computer Science class. Z is currently an intern at Minnesota STEM Partnership (MSP), whose goal is to provide STEM opportunities to those often underrepresented in STEM fields. They were a primary leader in MSP’s 6 week summer FTC bootcamp, and also helped with the 6 week GISE and GEMS Summer STEM Academy at one of their local middle schools. Z mentors FTC teams at Minnesota STEM Partnership, many of whom have had no prior robotics experience. They enjoy being able to share their knowledge with others and watch as their journeys progress. Z is very passionate about helping others, and believes it is important to make STEM opportunities more accessible and provide those resources for those in underprivileged communities. Z has always been an advocate for wider spread access to FIRST robotics opportunities, visiting the state capitol and speaking with the Minneapolis Public Schools superintendent about this cause. Z aims to pursue a career path in the engineering and computer science fields, and will continue to advocate for underrepresented students. 

Lalitha Gunturi

Sophomore at Eden Prairie High School

Lalitha is a State Winner. Her interest in coding and technology began when she first explored in elementary school which led her to learn coding languages and take computer science courses at her high school. Lalitha noticed how the pandemic posed challenges to many elementary students with distance learning. Lalitha thought these students could benefit from additional help and co-founded CREATE Tutoring, a free program for elementary students that offers free virtual tutoring, educational workshops, and fun events. In less than a year, CREATE has tutored over 1500 lessons, 700 hours of tutoring, 2 summer workshops, hosted numerous events, and has built a volunteer tutor network across the country. To incorporate her passion for computer science, Lalitha and her co-founder are working on putting together a block coding workshop to spark interest in the next generation of technology professionals. This past summer, Lalitha participated in the Joy of Coding Program at the University of Michigan  where she developed her python programming skills and learned how coding powers the world of AI and Data Science. Since September 2021, Lalitha has been working on research regarding Swarm Robotics with guidance from Professor Maria Gini at the University of Minnesota. In school, Lalitha is on the Debate Team, Speech Team, and DECA Team. Lalitha finds the intersection of computer science and business fascinating and would love to work in those fields in the future.

Elisa Guo

Senior at Mounds View High School

Elisa Guo is a State Winner. From a young age, she was interested in STEM, competing in Science Olympiad ever since elementary school. During the pandemic, Elisa was curious about why some people were more susceptible to COVID-19 infection than others. Using computer programs and online databases to find and analyze data both helped answer her questions and piqued her interest in computer science. Attending a machine learning camp at the University of Minnesota introduced Elisa not only to an innovative aspect of the computing field but also the influence of data bias. She decided to co-find a Girls Who Code club at her school to engage her peers in computer science and learn about the importance of diversity and representation in the field. Elisa also continues to be an avid competitor and Event Leader in Science Olympiad, winning multiple medals at State and other invitationals and helping her teammates succeed.
Elisa is also a leader in her school community. She represents her grade as Senior Class Officer, serves as Editor-in-Chief of her school newspaper, and directs an annual community benefit concert sponsored by her school’s NHS. She was also elected as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court for Minnesota Youth in Government. In her future, Elisa hopes to combine her interests in STEM and politics by addressing social issues through data-driven research.

Annika Heieie

Junior at Belgrade Brooten Elrosa High School

Annika is a National Honorable Mention recipient and a State Winner. Annika was a 2021 Rising Star honoree and a 2020 Certificate of Distinction honoree. She began programming robots in elementary school, which sparked her interest in STEM. In high school she began taking more advanced computer science classes as well as engineering classes where she learned Java, Python, C, and SQL. She helps mentor her school’s Girls Who Code Club and is always encouraging the young girls to pursue their interests in STEM. She is a programmer on her school’s robotics team, and on this First Robotics team she is partially in charge of encouraging and helping the team’s inclusion and diversity goals. Annika is a member of Business Professionals of America, where she made it to State three years in a row for SQL database fundamentals as well as Computer Programming Concepts. She also made it to Nationals twice for SQL. She was recognized by Harvard Academies for her academic interests in change and computer science, and took multiple online classes through them as well. Annika will be attending the National Student Leadership Conference for Aerospace Engineering to broaden her knowledge in STEM and try out new areas involving engineering and computer science. She continually looks for new ways to expand her knowledge in STEM, try new experiences, and encourage others who are interested in STEM to pursue their dreams as well.

Ria Koppikar

Senior at Eastview High School

Ria is a State Winner. She was a Certificate of Distinction recipient in 2021. Her interest in programming sparked in 7th grade when she took a coding class at a local non-profit. Through that she developed programming skills in JavaScript, HTML, CSS, and Python. Ria has also been a part of coding camps like Girls Who Code and Kode With Klossy. This past summer, she worked as an Instructor Coding Assistant with Kode with Klossy, helping to teach code to girls across India and Europe. She believes technology is one of the most important tools of this century and feels everyone should be able to use it. This belief drives her to continue teaching others in various ways. At school, Ria engages in high-level math and science courses to continue her pursuit of STEM knowledge. By joining a mentor program class, she was able to be mentored by a Delta Airlines Principle Software Architect. Outside of school she runs her own organization, Super (tech)Savvy Seniors, where she and other teenagers help senior citizens with basic technology skills. She has worked with senior citizens across the world, including countries like the UK, India, and Taiwan. During Ria’s free time, she enjoys tutoring students in math topics, reading, and dancing! Ria plans on majoring in Neuroscience or Psychology.

Izzi Lauer

Senior at Cretin-Derham Hall

Izzi is a State Winner. She was a State Honorable Mention recipient in 2021 and a Certificate of Distinction recipient in 2020. Her enthusiasm for programming began in 4th grade when she joined FIRST Lego League (FLL). In middle school, she participated in Girls Who Code and continued to compete on FLL teams. Izzi has taken multiple computer science classes in middle and high school, where she learned HTML, CSS, Python, Java, and CAD. She has also completed a cybersecurity boot camp at Metropolitan State University and a machine learning summer camp. Last year, Izzi was a teaching assistant for summer STEM camps offered by Tech Academy. She graduated from the University of Minnesota Talented Youth Mathematics Program (UMTYMP) this past spring. Izzi continues her studies at the University of Minnesota with math and computer science courses such as Applied Linear Algebra and Advanced Algorithms. She also volunteers at the Interactive Robotics and Vision Laboratory, which conducts research in underwater robotics. Izzi is a captain of her school’s robotics team, 2450 Windchill. She also founded a VEX robotics club at her high school, which aims to be more accessible and cost-efficient for students interested in exploring programming and technology. Izzi plans to major in computer science and pursue a career in data analytics or machine learning. Outside of math and computer science, she enjoys running, waterskiing, and playing piano.

Ruth Mellin

Senior at St. Paul Academy and Summit School

Ruth is a State Winner. She was a State Honorable Mention recipient in 2021. She has been drawn to math and science from a young age and has explored her interest in those subjects and found passions in computer science and engineering in high school. Her engineering classes have taught civil, mechanical, aerospace, and design engineering in a hands-on, project-based environment. She has taken computer science classes working with Java and Arduino Uno. This year, she created a 3D printed robotic hand that translates from speech and text into ASL letter signs for submission to the regional science fair. She has also enjoyed advanced classes in genetics, neuroscience, and chemistry and plans to incorporate biology into her major and career. Over the summer, Ruth participated in CURIE Academy, an all-female engineering program at Cornell University, where she developed a digital agriculture system using Internet of Things software. She also took a course with Inspirit AI, where she learned to code with AI and created a bioinformatics project that traced COVID-19 strains to their country of origin. Ruth is also a Level 9 gymnast and captain of her club team at Roseville Gymnastics Center, leads a fiber arts club at her school, and volunteers at a local historical site. In college, Ruth plans to major in engineering and explore the possibilities at the intersection of engineering, biology, and computer science, such as biomedical engineering and bioinformatics.

Grace N

Senior at Math and Science Academy

Grace is a State Winner and National Honorable Mention recipient. She was also a 2021 Honorable Mention recipient. As a founding member and current president of her school’s SWENext Club, she aspires to spark interest and confidence in students pursuing STEM. Grace has helped organize STEM outreach activities with local schools, libraries, and the Science Museum of Minnesota. She has set up, created lesson plans, and taught basic Python and HTML/CSS classes, introducing students to the world of code. Grace is also code lead for her school’s FIRST Robotics Competition Team and has written code in Java and Lua for the robot’s subsystems, autonomous commands, and driving controls.  Additionally, Grace works for an application and web design firm on the transfer of content, customization, and maintenance of websites for non-profit organizations.  She also volunteers as the website administrator for a mental health non-profit organization in the Seattle, WA area and Rutherford County, NC.  Outside of STEM, Grace runs cross country and long-distance track, qualifying for the Minnesota State Championships in both racing seasons.  She looks forward to pursuing electrical engineering in college, focusing on leveraging technology in research and innovation towards a more sustainable future.

Caroline Pirtle

Senior at Breck School

Caroline is a State Winner. She was a State Honorable Mention recipient in 2021 and a Rising Star in 2019 and 2020. Caroline currently participates in Breck’s FIRST Robotics Competition team as the Programming Captain. Her team attended Robotics Worlds after winning the 2019 Northern Lights Regionals. They also went on to win Regionals in the 2020 and 2021 virtual competitions. Caroline was selected for Breck’s Advanced Science Research Program, where she worked with the University of MN Division of Health Policy and Management writing algorithms in Python to optimize medical clinics’ schedules. She then made a GUI for the algorithms and conducted various statistical tests to compare the generated schedules with historical ones, finding an overall improvement with the generated schedules. In summer 2021, she interned with SPS Commerce where she worked with the Assortment Team. She helped develop beta features for the software and participated in the yearly Tech Jam event. Currently, she is working with Open Arms of Minnesota, a non-profit, to analyze volunteer data using SQL and Python to improve their volunteer program. Caroline is president of Breck’s Visual Arts Council and won a Scholastic Silver Key for her artwork. She is planning on majoring in Computer Science and is undecided in which college she is attending.

Abi Rajasekaran

Senior at Eden Prairie High School

Abi is a State Winner. She began her STEM journey as a first grader participating in the local science fair. Abi’s love for the technology field sparked after a visit to a Python camp at the University of Minnesota. Since then, she has been learning Matlab as a research intern at the University of Minnesota. Abi hopes to continue utilizing technology and learning more software programs as she aspires to pursue a career in the medical field. In 2021, she conducted a research study predicting compensatory exercise behaviors from anxiety symptoms in patients with eating disorders using a computer software program known as R. Her study was recognized by the Society of Science for a Community Innovation award, given to one project per state.
Additionally, Abi is a 2019 Target Women in Science & Technology (TWIST) award recipient and a 2021 Girls of the Future Award Winner. Abi’s participation in state and national science fairs sparked an interest to host a science fair in her local community. With one-on-one mentoring for 65+ students and 20+ local sponsors and specialized judges, the science fair was a success! Abi’s love for science, technology, and children continues to grow as she organizes events for the Target Tech Kids Program. At school, she is an active volunteer and executive officer of National Honor Society and stands up for social justice through Youth in Government, Women’s Rights Club, and UNICEF. In her free time, she shares a love for playing piano and fostering dogs.

Adele Snyder

Junior at Edina High School

Adele is a State Winner and a National Honorable Mention recipient. Her interest in technology started when she participated in her older siblings’ First Robotics teams as the mascot. From there, when she was old enough she joined the First Lego League and eventually was able to join the First Tech League and First Robotics Competition. Starting at a young age she would scavenge the HID scrap bins at her mom’s work to find parts she could sell to fund her robotics team’s expenses. She is now in her 7th year of robotics and is assistant captain of The Green Machine, a nationally recognized FRC FIRST Robotics team. She loves attending outreach events encouraging kids, especially girls, to join robotics and enjoys attending STEM advocacy conferences at the state capital. When she isn’t busy designing and building robots, she participates in Boy Scouts of America, takes math classes as part of the University of Minnesota Talented Youth Mathematical Program (UMTYMP), and takes piano lessons. She is currently helping to design a course on data structures and algorithms for her high school. She loves to travel and was invited to watch the NASA launch of the LUCY Satellite in Florida. On her visits to her grandpa’s house in Lead, SD she often visits the Sanford Underground Research Lab to learn more about their many particle physics experiments.

Saloni Somia

Junior at Minnetonka High School

Saloni Somia is a State Winner. Saloni is captain of her school’s debate team, DECA chapter, and service club. Saloni’s passions include computer science, service, and policy. She loves to combine these passions to help make a difference in her communities. Saloni’s passion for computer science really started in 4th grade. The first language that she started learning was Python. She self-taught herself how to code with Python by taking time every day after school to work through a book that she got from the library. She loved it so much that she took every single computer science class available to her in middle school. These classes ranged from app development to robotics (she even won the school-wide robot fight).  Last summer, she co-created a web app that focused on improving the lives of those in her community. In high school, she is involved in a Computer Science Club, AP Computer Science, and Scientific Research. In both Scientific Research and Computer Science Club, she is working on developing another app with Swift. She is so excited to learn more about computer science and help make a difference with the innovation of coding and the collaboration of community.

Shriya Srinivas

Senior at Wayzata High School

Shriya is a State Winner. Shriya felt her passion for STEM by attending a camp in fourth grade where she discovered the joy of coding. Since then, she has attended numerous camps and competitions, such as Technovation, and has taught at multiple STEM camps like Camp Invention and Girls Got IT! Camp. She can currently code in JAVA, Python, C++, Visual Basic, and MIT App Inventor. In school, she has pursued her passion for Computer Science by taking both AP Computer Science A and AP Computer Science Principles, as well as other AP math and science courses. This year she created a Technovation student group to inspire more girls to explore the STEM field, as she noticed a large gender gap in her classes. She is also an active member in speech, L.I.N.K crew, National Honor Society, and Business Professionals of America. Outside of school, she is a Bharatanatyam dancer and frequently volunteers at the Maple Grove Hospital, in her community, at her temple, and at dance. In the future, she hopes to attend a university where she can continue to pursue her passion for Computer Science and help create more technological innovations that will innovate our community.

Claire Stellmack

Senior at Mounds View High School

Claire is a State Winner. She was a State Honorable Mention recipient in 2021 and a Certificate of Distinction recipient in 2020. She has always enjoyed taking math courses in school and first became interested in programming after joining a coding club in seventh grade. Throughout middle school and high school, Claire participated in Science Olympiad, winning state titles in experimental writing, meteorology, and biology events. She joined a FIRST LEGO League robotics team in eighth grade, then switched to FIRST Tech Challenge in high school, and recently competed at this year’s state tournament. At the 2021 state tournament she received a Stratasys Youth Award, recognizing her programming contributions. Her favorite parts of FIRST are programming the robot, participating in outreach events in the community, and mentoring FIRST LEGO League teams. Claire is currently a full-time PSEO student at the University of Minnesota and will be attending as undergraduate student majoring Computer Science this upcoming fall semester. Claire was selected as an intern at SPS Commerce in 2021, where she has learned many new skills and is excited to continue working on the Cloud Operations team this upcoming summer. Outside of school, Claire enjoys music and plays clarinet, piano, and bass guitar. She also likes reading, making crafts, and working as a barista at Starbucks.

Katriana Trinh

Junior at Minnetonka High School

Katriana is a State Winner. Her interest in STEM started when she joined an FLL team in 2016 as the lead and only programmer. Since then, she has been interested in the various applications programming and computers can bring to the different aspects of life. She is heavily involved with her high school’s FIRST Robotics Team, Chicken Bot Pie, and has assisted with prototyping and fabrication of the robot, resulting in a 4th out of 60 place finish in a Regional Competition in 2020. She also holds leadership positions within the club where she is involved in onboarding new members to the team and securing funding for her team.  Katriana is proficient in Python and continues to develop her skills through self-study and independent projects where she uses her strong math background to increase her understanding of code, as well as attending computing programs such as the Summer Computing Academy.  She also enjoys challenging and furthering her knowledge by taking AP classes and Dual Enrollment classes through the University of Minnesota. In her spare time, Katriana enjoys using technology to express her passion to innovate through editing videos, various forms of digital art, and CAD. In the future, Katriana plans to combine her love of biology and math with computing in college to pursue Biomedical Engineering, and later medicine.

Anna Wang

Senior at Edina High School

Anna is a State Winner. She was a State Honorable Mention recipient in 2021 and a Certificate of Distinction recipient in 2020. In middle school, she joined First Tech robotic team, and participated Girls Who Code where she started learning Python. She took AP Computer Science Principles, where she gained the concept of computer science and an overview of both computing and its societal impacts. During the summer, she continued to pursue her passion in computer science through attending an intensive two-week programming camp, Summer Computer Academy, at the University of Minnesota, where she learned to use Python, draw many different objects using turtle, code Rock, Paper, Scissors, and design a webpage using HTML and CSS. She also attended Virtual Machine Learning Camps during the past two summers where she learned applications of computer science in fields such as Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, and Big Data Analysis. She did research in analyzing medical data by using machine learning techniques: data visualization, training and testing, decision trees, and neural networks. Last year, she took AP Computer Science A where she learned Java. To further improve her coding skills, she took Web Page Coding and is taking Cybersecurity this year. Anna would like to attend college and major in Computer Science. She would like to learn how to code in other languages, because one of her dreams is to code something that will solve real-world problems.

Meet the 2022 Minnesota Aspirations in Computing Award Honorees