We recently had the chance to catch up with Nicole Meister, a 2015 and 2016 Technovation participant and now a Technovation Student Ambassador (SA). We talked about her Technovation experience, what she is up to now, and her advice for current and future participants. Nicole Meister was part of Mobile Meisters which developed the app “Mobile Profile” in 2015, and the Petfinder Co. which developed the app “Petfinder” in 2016.
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
My name is Nicole Meister and I am 17 years old. I go to high school in Maryland. A fun fact about me is that I am half German and half Chinese. In my spare time, I like to teach girls how to code.
What was your relationship or experience with tech before Technovation?
Before Technovation, I was mostly learning various coding languages such as Python and HTML/CSS with Code Academy. Technovation got me into a real life project for the first time. It showed me how computer science can have a tangible impact on the community.
What made you decide to participate in Technovation?
I heard about Technovation from my school. I was interested in computer science and Technovation was a way I could learn more, and it was a cool avenue to pursue. I had never created an app before. My team was made up of girls with different interests (art, business) but we all did part of the coding.
How was your Technovation experience?
Technovation has helped me work better on a team, including learning how to compromise and be opened to new ideas. It also taught me perseverance when trying to debug. Forums have been really helpful when I got stuck with something.
Below are some of the forums that were helpful to me:
- PVest: App Inventor 2, Learn to Code!
- MIT App Inventor Support Forum (Google Group)
- Pura Vida: App Inventor, API Access and Authentication (this one helped me with implementing Sign-In With Google)
What have you been up to since then?
Last year, when I was a Junior, I started teaching girls beginner coding at the Burleigh Manor middle school. Then I taught them about MIT app inventor and introduced them to Technovation. In November, I began with a new class and I spent the first two months helping them with app inventor. I currently have 5 teams in the class and we just started building paper prototypes. I have been helping the girls figuring out if their apps are feasible. There are two TA (Teacher Assistants) also helping out. Once the girls have a clear idea for their app, they will register with their mentors on the platform.
What advice would you have for someone who was interested in starting Technovation or another coding program but felt intimidated or like they “weren’t a coder”?
The National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) taught me that coders come from everywhere; they are a very diverse group. My advice is to reach out to people in your community, there might be more people familiar with coding than you think. Also, don’t set limits for yourself! Think big! When creating your app, have your vision for it, but it is also important to have a “Minimum Viable Product” stage of your mobile app where you would be satisfied with if you submitted this version. This helps with meeting deadlines, accomplishing tasks, and reaching milestones with your mobile app.
Why did you decide to become a Student Ambassador?
Technovation has really helped me with defining career goals and helped me realize that computer science is what I want to do. It can help me make a tangible impact on the community. I wanted to give back and pass on what I learned from my mentors and from my experience, and inspire younger girls to explore computer science. I also want to encourage many young girls to go into computer science to close the gender gaps, which is evident in my computer science classes.
What’s next for you?
College. I am planning on majoring in Computer Science or Computer Engineering. In my freetime during the rest of my senior year, I am focusing on playing more music, especially the violin and piano. I will also travel to Germany, to visit my grandfather and uncle.
About the Student Ambassador program
Student Ambassadors (SAs) are volunteers who work alongside Regional Ambassadors in their region. They help bring Technovation to a new region and build a solid community in their area by recruiting girls and creating a chapter for their city/region.
Want to become a student ambassador? Sign up for our newsletter and you will receive an email when applications open!