Field of Study: 

Human-Centered Engineering

My high school didn’t have computer science classes; I had no exposure to computer science until I was 16 years old. That year, I was accepted AccessComputing’s Summer Academy for Advancing Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Computing, a nine-week program at University of Washington. When I learned about HTML and JavaScript, it was like a brand new world to me. I loved the puzzle of figuring it out and realized that computer science was a good match for me. I was invited back as a teaching assistant for the Summer Academy the following summer, where I learned about Java. It was amazing experience overall. I continued studying computer science when I enrolled at the University of Minnesota.

I use American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters in order to access my classes. Since ASL is my native language, when I’m reading English during an exam, I need an interpreter to translate it to ASL to fully understand the instruction and questions. Professors have been open to my questions and comments and have gladly accepted my feedback regarding lecture style (consider using a laser pointer to point to specific material on PowerPoint slides), usage of board (better organization), and tips on working with interpreters (look at me instead of the interpreter and speak at a normal pace).

This past summer, I had the honor of participating in a 10-week summer internship with NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center in California. Through the internship, I developed new and improved partially developed graphic elements and human interaction aspects of an Android application. The app is a collision avoidance technology that provides warning cues to pilots when they are too close to or are about to collide with terrain. The people I worked with were wonderful with communication. I used a combination of ASL, speech, and Ubuntu when I had causal one-on-one meetings with a person. For group and formal meetings, I mainly used an ASL interpreter. At one point, I asked my support specialist for a keyboard tray. Another time, I needed more information about Android Development Tools, and my coworkers lent me books to use over the course of the internship.

The experience of working on an app during my internship further fueled my passion for human and computer interaction and my desire to improve individuals’ standard of living through technology. I ultimately want to develop and improve technology in terms of usability, accessibility, and quality through apps, and I hope to work in a team-oriented environment. I want to grow as a leader in my profession.