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Week 1 update on Akamai's Girls Who Code

After months of planning & preparation, Akamai's Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program is now underway! This past Monday July 6th, we welcomed 20 high school girls to Akamai's Cambridge headquarters, where they will spend seven weeks learning coding fundamentals and mingling with real-world techies.
There is a lot of excitement on both sides. The girls are bright, engaged, and eager to make the most of this opportunity--some even moved from out of state to the Boston area with their families for the summer so they could participate in Boston Girls Who Code! The teaching staff is also amazing and full of energy.

I had the privilege of meeting the students on their first day, and later running a "how the internet works" interactive workshop alongside several other Akamai women. This is a workshop that we initially developed for the Eastern Massachusetts Girl Scouts STEM Expo and have also put on for girls from Brookview House in Boston and ChickTech in San Francisco.

In the first part of the workshop, girls act out the roles of web browsers, DNS resolvers, Internet routers and web servers as they request and deliver web content (in our case stuffed animals). After they get the basics down, we add spies and giant robot attack armies. We talk about man-in-the-middle attacks and denial of service attacks and defenses. Everyone gets involved. There is moderate mayhem, and they learn a lot while having fun.

In the second part of the workshop, we teach the girls how to look at real-world examples. They use their laptops to do digs, pings and traceroutes to some of their favorite websites, and we talk about what they see.

Running the workshop for our Girls Who Code students was great fun. They were engaged and asked astute questions, and seemed to really enjoy the workshop.

The next day, they had a lunch and panel discussion with more of our amazing Akamai women, which went very well. Originally scheduled for an hour, the girls had so many questions that some panelists ended up staying for an additional hour! And on Friday the group took a field trip to neighboring Microsoft, where they met another group of 20 girls in the same program and learned more about the future-facing technologies being developed by Microsoft R&D.

So I think we're off to a good start. The second week of the program will be busy, too. There's an open house with our CEO Tom Leighton and Cambridge Mayor David Maher, a social event with our college interns, a tour of Akamai's Network Operations Control Center (NOCC) with the Akamai Foundation Brandeis Scholars, and a field trip to the Personal Robotics Group at the MIT Media Lab. The girls will also meet their individual mentors for the first time; these are women who are Akamai employees and will continue to meet with the girls weekly for the duration of the summer immersion program.

There are a lot of us at Akamai involved in this summer program, but I'd like to give a particular shout-out to Bhuvana Husain, who has been working tirelessly to make it all come together and run smoothly.

I think it's going to be a great summer!