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Planning for Final Projects with Girls Who Code

Hi. I'm Bhuvana Husain, Director of Programs & Operations in Akamai's Web Experience Business Unit. I'm also the Program Coordinator for this year's Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program here at Akamai. As described in the previous blog posts by Kate Jenkins (Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program at Akamai and Week 1 update on Akamai's Girls Who Code), we are thrilled to be hosting a group of 20 high school girls onsite at Akamai HQ in Cambridge so they can learn how to code. 

After their first week learning about how the Internet works and what Akamai does, along with other introductory topics related to computing, they dove in to learn more about Robotics in week 2. They spent a few days programming their own robots, and then enjoyed a field trip at the end of the week to the Personal Robots Group at the MIT Media Lab as pictured below. The girls told me that meeting Dr. Cynthia Breazeal, the Director of the group, was a highlight.

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During their third week, the focus shifted to Graphics & Animation. After spending some time learning JavaScript, they took a field trip to Fathom, an information design firm in Boston as pictured below. This visit was also listed as a highlight by the group of girls, who learned tremendous amounts about how to visualize data in meaningful ways.


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The following week the girls learned more about Mobile Application Development & Entrepreneurship, including some time on the JQuery Mobile API and the Firebug debugger that many engineers at Akamai have probably used. Additionally, week 4 included a talk by Julia Austin, formerly of Akamai & VMWare and now involved as an advisor to early stage startups. They also enjoyed a field trip to the MIT Media Lab, where they met girls from the other 5 programs in Massachusetts this summer.

Week 5 of the program, which is their last week of learning new content before starting on their final projects, focused on Data Structures & Algorithms. Some of the data structures they learned about included 2D arrays, stacks, and queues. In addition, they had a chance to learn more about how these are used in the real world, in two different industries. One set of guest speakers came from Genospace, a local company in Cambridge that has built a comprehensive platform for genomic and other biomedical data. And another guest speaker on this topic was our very own Liz Borowsky, Senior Director of Platform Mapping Engineering, who showed the girls how Akamai uses data structures & algorithms to map out the entire Internet!

Now the girls are working on their final projects, which they'll pitch and demo at their graduation ceremony next Wednesday August 19th. They've learned so much already, and they've been asking terrific questions along the way! I'm excited to see the applications & sites they build for their final projects.

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