Category Archives: Student Blog

Google news and updates especially for students

Dive into computer science with Google’s Computer Science Summer Institute (CSSI)

Opportunities are live for the 2019 Computer Science Summer Institute (CSSI) and the Generation Google Scholarship (both available to graduating high school seniors in the US or Canada). Learn more about both programs below and apply before March 18!


What
Google's Computer Science Summer Institute (CSSI) is a three-week introduction to computer science (CS) for graduating high school seniors with a passion for technology — especially students from historically underrepresented groups in the field.
The program includes:

  • A specially designed project-based curriculum that includes HTML/CSS, JavaScript, Python and Google App Engine to help prepare students for their first year of college CS
  • Daily development sessions to help you prepare for future job opportunities
  • An opportunity to interact directly with Google engineers
  • Exposure and insight into Google’s internship programs and technical career opportunities
  • Exposure and insight into Google’s internship programs and technical career opportunities

The Generation Google Scholarship helps aspiring computer scientists from underrepresented groups excel in technology and become leaders in the field. Selected students will receive 10,000 USD (for those studying in the US) or 5,000 CAD (for those studying in Canada) for the 2019-20120 school year. Please note, only CSSI applicants will be considered for the Generation Google Scholarship.

Where & When
We offer several options for CSSI depending on where you may be attending school. You can find more details on location here. Most of our programs run from June - August 2019.


Who
Any high school senior who plans to attend a four year institution in the US or Canada, has a passion for technology, and intends to enroll in a computer science, computer engineering, software engineering, or related department for the 2019-2020 academic year.

Why
Google is committed to increasing the enrollment and retention of students in the field of computer science. CSSI is not your average summer camp. It's an intensive, interactive, hands-on, and fun program that seeks to inspire the tech leaders and innovators of tomorrow by supporting the study of computer science, software engineering, and other closely-related subjects.


Visit the Google CSSI page for more information and to apply. The application deadline is Monday, March 18 at 11:59 pm PST. Final decisions will be announced in mid-to-late May.

Questions?
Give us a shout at cssi@google.com or generationgoogle@google.com.

The Ultimate Guide to Hash Code 2019

Looking for your next programming challenge? Google’s flagship team coding competition, Hash Code, is back and registration is now open! The sixth (and first global) edition is bound to be bigger than ever. In the past, contestants have attempted to optimize the layout of a Google data center and transport commuters via self-driving cars. This February, developers of all skill levels will flex their coding muscles, get a glimpse into software engineering at Google, and have some fun (oh, and did we mention potentially win $4,000 USD?). Follow our top tips to make the most of Hash Code 2019:


Tip 1: Mark your calendars. Hash Code kicks off with an Online Qualification Round on Thursday, February 28th from 17:30 to 21:30 UTC. Top teams from the Online Qualification Round will then progress to April’s Final Round, hosted at Google Ireland, where they’ll compete for the title of Hash Code 2019 Champion. Check out last year’s Final Round highlights video to get a sense of the action!


Tip 2: Form a team. To compete in Hash Code, you’ll need to form a team of 2 to 4 people. Your team can be made up of classmates, peers, coworkers, friends, strangers, or – a combination! No matter your team composition, be sure to connect with your team before the contest to talk strategy, preferred programming languages, and, of course, come up with an awesome team name. Not sure where to find teammates (or just looking to connect with other Hash Coders)? Join our Facebook group or Google+ page to connect with the Hash Code community.


Tip 3: Get your team ready. Hash Code problems are modeled after real Google engineering challenges – and just like the problems that Google engineers tackle, there is no one right way to solve them! Instead, each round of the competition is designed as a battle of heuristics, meaning there isn’t a right or wrong answer. Hash Code’s optimization problems allow your team to approach the challenge in many different ways – and the best way to get comfortable with this type of coding is to practice. Use the Hash Code archive to hold a practice session with your team.



Tip 4: Join a hub. Hubs are locally-organized meetups that allow teams to compete side-by-side during the Online Qualification Round. These meetups are hosted by fellow Hash Coders at universities, coworking spaces, and company offices all around the world. Competing from a hub adds even more excitement to the Online Qualification Round and is a great way to meet new people plus strengthen your local developer community. Check out hubs in your area and be sure to join one before they fill up. Think you might be interested in organizing a hub? Learn more and apply.

Tip 5: Have fun. Whether you’re competing from a hub or from home with your team, or whether this is your first Hash Code or your sixth, the best part of Hash Code is the exciting, fun environment and community! Show Hash Coders around the world how your team is getting ready for the competition using #HashCode on social media.

If you’re up for the challenge, be sure to register at g.co/hashcode by February 25th. Follow these tips and who knows, maybe we’ll see you in Dublin for the Final Round!

Getting to know a research intern: Tomas Effenberger

Google offers a variety of opportunities for students who wish to gain industry experience. Through our "Getting to know a research intern" series, we provide a glimpse into some of these opportunities as well as the impactful projects research students work on at Google. Today we’re featuring Tomas Effenberger, Master student (now PhD) from Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic. Tomas interned with our Brain Applied Zurich team. Read On!

Tomas Effenberger

So tell us about yourself and your PhD topic …
I am a member of the Adaptive Learning research group at the Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic. Our mission is to make learning more efficient and engaging by personalizing educational systems using artificial intelligence techniques. To achieve this mission, we research things like how to model students, how to reliably estimate difficulty of tasks, how to find optimal parameters for mastery learning, or how to deal with dangerous feedback loops and fairly evaluate adaptive learning systems.

We develop applications that provide personalized learning experience by estimating students’ skills as they practice and recommending them tasks of the optimal difficulty. Suitable challenges, neither too easy, nor too difficult, help the students immerse themselves into the problem solving activity and achieve the state of flow.


What does this mean for education?
We provide teachers with tools that help them be more impactful. We focus on automating the activities that are either too boring, too difficult, or even impossible for teachers, such as giving immediate personalized feedback on students’ homework. That gives the teachers time to prepare more sophisticated learning activities that couldn’t be performed well by computer tutors – for example a complex game followed by a guided reflection.

In addition, we develop tools that help teachers understand better the current skills of all their students. I like to think about our mission as giving teachers super-powers. No matter how good machines are, there will always be a place for teachers – though hopefully their jobs will be more fun and less frustrating than today.


Why did you choose this topic?
I strongly believe that improving education can have a huge and positive impact on the lives of every person on the planet. Every child spends many hours learning nearly every day, and the process of learning is often experienced as either boring or frustrating. By making the learning more efficient and engaging, we can help the students become happier and more skillful. That is why improving education is such a strong leverage point: happy and skillful people are likely to lead advances in all other aspects of our society – including improving education even further!

During my master studies at Masaryk University, I learned many useful tools that can help me on my life mission to advance personalized learning. Research on adaptive learning is a sweet spot at the intersection of what I consider important (improving education), and what I am good at (computer science and artificial intelligence).

Tomas Effenberger

Why did you apply for an internship at Google?
I had not worked as a software engineer before and I realized that I was lacking some essential skills for an efficient development of complex scalable adaptive learning systems. Interning at Google was a great opportunity to learn best practices from top software engineers and to see how machine learning can be used at scale.


What project was your internship focused on?
I worked under Quentin de Laroussilhe from the Brain Applied Zurich team to make state-of-the-art image dataset augmentation easily accessible to anyone inside and outside Google. A more high-level goal of my effort was to improve the quality of machine learning models by a combination of three concepts: data augmentation, meta learning, and transfer learning.

Data augmentation is a powerful technique for improving generalization. When training a machine learning model, the more data you have, the better performance you can achieve. By applying random distortions to the training data you already have, you can create new artificial training data. For images, those distortions can be random crops, rotations, increasing brightness, etc.

Since image augmentation includes many parameters, researchers at Google developed an algorithm called AutoAugment that searches for the best augmentation policy using millions of labeled images. This technique of learning an architecture and hyperparameters is referred to as meta learning, or learning to learn.

Reusing components learned on one task to solve new tasks is called transfer learning. I have released several image augmentation policies, and published them on TensorFlow Hub, allowing anyone to import and use them in the TensorFlow graphs of their models.

We have also incorporated the image augmentation policies into a meta-learning framework that can now jointly optimize the choice of the image augmentation policy and architecture of the model.


How closely connected was the work you did during your internship to your research topic?
The focus of my internship project was much broader with the goal to advance machine learning in general. Nevertheless, machine learning is one of the main tools that is used for adaptive learning. It was inspiring to see how various machine learning techniques and state-of-the-art tools are used at Google to tackle challenging problems that share some common aspects with adaptive learning.

Tomas Effenberger

This is already your second internship at Google. What were the reasons to come back?
I wanted to further develop my software engineering skills while working on research projects that can make the world a better place, at least transitively. After my first internship, I knew that Google was the perfect place for this. I received a lot of open and actionable feedback and I was not afraid to make mistakes, because I knew that they will be taken as great learning opportunities.

Engineers at Google are passionate about their work and have a clear vision of what they want to achieve, why they want to achieve it, and how they will do it. Even more importantly, they know how their work relates to the core values and mission of the company.


What key skills have you gained from your time at Google?
I have definitely improved my coding skills, especially through code reviews and pair programming sessions. I also had plenty of opportunities to practice data analysis, build machine learning models, and evaluate them properly. Last but not least, I think I quite considerably improved my communication skills, thanks to my host who pushed me to collaborate with many people both inside and outside our team.


What are your next steps? What is coming next after the internship?
I am now back to Brno to conduct a PhD in the Adaptive Learning research group at the Masaryk University under the supervision of Radek Pelanek. My main focus is on adaptive learning of introductory programming, which is a topic that I have already started to explore in my master thesis. I have developed a web application for learning the basics of programming that combines several strategies to support learning and motivation, such as using drag-and-drop blocks to build programs, visualizing their execution in a game world, and recommending the next suitable task.

Despite focusing primarily on learning programming, I also plan to explore more general methodological aspects concerning the development and evaluation of adaptive learning systems. I will strive to make my research readily applicable and helpful in existing large-scale educational systems such as Khan Academy.

Celebrating Google’s heroes at the Army-Navy game

Each fall, students from the U.S. Military Academy and U.S. Naval Academy, and members of the U.S. military community brave the cold for the famed Army-Navy football game. In the 128 years since the first kick-off, the Army Black Knights and the Navy Midshipmen have developed a fierce rivalry that keeps thousands coming back to the game every year.

At Google, we take immense pride in the military community members who make up the Google Veterans Network, or VetNet as we call it. This year, Grow with Google, an initiative to create economic opportunities, will be an Associate Partner of the Army-Navy game to continue to show our support for transitioning service members, veterans and their families. On behalf of Grow with Google, Googlers from our VetNet community, many of whom are alumni from USMA and USNA, will attend the game to support their respective teams. To celebrate the big game, we highlighted six of our VetNet community heroes.

How do students prepare for the big game?

Larraine Palesky 
Former Engineer Officer, U.S. Army and Staffing Channels Specialist at Google, Texas 
“The biggest event we celebrate leading up to the game is where we host a large boat burning. Yes, we actually fire up and burn a boat. We take beating Navy very seriously!”
Larraine Palesky, USMA Class of 2013, with her daughter Joelle.
Peter Yu
Lieutenant Commander, U.S. Navy and Program Manager at Google Fiber, Utah
“At USNA, the week itself is unofficially coined ‘Army-Navy Week.’ The Navy Flying Club occasionally will fly over a West Point noon formation and drop thousands of ‘Go Navy’ flyers right on top of the West Point cadets' heads.”
Peter Yu, USNA Class of 2003, with his wife Jahan.
What’s it like to participate in a game that dates back to 1890?

Yu: “Whether a student or a player, it is a great honor knowing that the nation is looking onto the large wave of uniformed Annapolis and West Point students with pride and high expectations.”

Andrew Burger
Former Captain, U.S. Marine Corps and Staffing Channels Specialist at Google, Texas
“I'm proud to say that I played on the football team for four years and we never lost to Army during that time! I was always in awe actually being at the games, because I remember watching them as a kid with my family, thinking, ‘How do these soldiers and sailors have time to play football?’ All the while, not realizing they were just college kids and through some strange pattern of events, I would one day become a USNA football player, too.”
Andrew Burger, USNA Class of 2010.
Why is Grow with Google’s work in support of the military community important?

Burger: “The veteran community is one of the largest untapped talent pools our nation has to offer. I’m not alone in that I struggled to define my strengths and talents in order to identify what profession I wanted to dedicate my time towards once I had to find a ‘real job.’ Grow with Google has the ability to help them personally define their particular skill sets, especially those that interest them.”

Tate Jarrow
Captain, Infantry, U.S. Army and Investigator at Google, California
“Veterans have an amazing sense of duty, selfless service, motivation, and an ability and desire to learn. Grow with Google can help veterans build on the skills and attributes developed during their service, and help them fully leverage their previous experience so they can be successful in their future endeavors.”
Tate Jarrow, USMA Class of 2004.
Larry Green
Supply Corps Officer (Lieutenant), U.S. Navy and Health and Performance Program Manager at Google, California
“The military experience embeds the values of maturity, teamwork, hard work, discipline, integrity, courage, being successful under pressure, and the list goes on. These core human values are timeless and will always be in demand in any industry.”
Larry Green, USNA Class of 1995.
Joe Schafer
Captain, Infantry, U.S. Army and Software Engineer at Google, California
“There’s a wealth of experience amongst veterans related to leadership, process management and integrity that is broadly useful across technology companies.”
Joe Schafer, USMA Class of 2010.
Which Grow with Google tools would you recommend to help fellow veterans transition to civilian life?

Palesky : “The Grow with Google tool I would share with fellow veterans looking to start a small business would be the veteran-led business attribute where veterans can identify their local businesses as veteran-led on mobile Google Search and Maps. The attribute helps businesses stand out, and makes it easy for everyone to proactively support veteran-owned businesses.”

Burger: “The Military Code Job Search Tool is a fantastic start in providing free and comprehensive assistance to curious and/or frustrated veterans and transitioning service members. It truly affirms to me Google’s mission, ‘Organizing the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful’ to all!”

Women Techmakers Scholarship – last chance to apply

Editor’s Note: The application window for our North America, Europe, Middle East, and Africa scholarships closes on Thursday, Dec 6, 2018. Our Asia-Pacific scholarship application will open in Spring 2019. You can find the most up to date information on the Women Techmakers Scholars site

Through the Women Techmakers Scholars Program - formerly the Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship Program, Google is furthering Dr. Anita Borg’s vision of creating gender equality in the field of computer science by encouraging women to excel in computing and technology and become active leaders and role models in the field.

Students selected for the scholarship will receive a financial award for the 2020-21 academic year and will be invited to the annual Google Scholars' Retreat in their region next summer. At the retreat, scholars participate in networking and development sessions, including sessions on how to lead outreach in their communities. In addition, scholars join a long term community, offering guidance and support in outreach and personal development.

Meet some of our current scholars from across the globe as they share their experiences with the program and advice to those applying:


Zoe Tagboto, Africa


Zoe is currently an undergraduate computer science student in Africa. When one of her lecturers  encouraged her to apply, she wasn’t sure if she’d be qualified. She took a chance and advises those who feel they’re not ready to trust themselves and reflect on the impact they’ve had on their communities – no matter how big or small.

“Take the plunge. Tech is fascinating and multifaceted. You aren’t restricted. You can be creative in so many different ways. It feels like you are doing magic. Once you’ve made the decision to pursue this field it is important to find your community. Having support or people who can drive you can inspire and motivate. Having a mentor is also a great resource that will help guide you as you progress through your career.”

Zoe explains that her highlight of being a scholar includes attending the Scholar’s Retreat in London this summer, as well as receiving a travel grant to attend the Grace Hopper Celebration where she had a chance to connect with other scholars and many other women in tech.


Kati Elizabeth, Australia

Kati is currently an undergraduate student studying human computer interaction, UX, and product management in Australia. She was reading about the Grace Hopper Celebration when she spotted the scholarship and decided to apply.

Her advice to potential applicants is, “Do not second guess yourself. Apply! You are so much cooler than you give yourself credit for, and you absolutely should just go for it. Secondly, I would say to spend time on answering the questions thoughtfully. Write out dot points answers first and then expand on them.” Outside of the application, she also recommends joining a club or society related to your field of study, and attending local hackathons and talks to meet and learn from people with similar interests.

“For me, the highlight was the retreat and meeting all the other amazing scholars & Googlers. Every scholar genuinely cared about making the world a better place. In the STEM industries there are fewer women than men, and this means we often find ourselves working in isolation. Now we have an incredible network of smart and inspiring women in tech. I made some life-long friends and allies.”


Lena Ngungu, North America


Lena is currently an undergraduate student in North America and will be graduating next year to pursue a career as a software engineer. She heard about the scholarship through the Women Techmakers newsletter and decided to apply. Her advice to potential applicants while writing essays is to be authentic and demonstrate a passion for what you have accomplished and hope to accomplish – especially in the tech industry.

“Being a scholar, I feel more competitive on the market which is very empowering. However, the people, my fellow scholars, would be the highlight of my journey. They have been a true inspiration. Having stayed in touch with them has motivated me to continue to give my best, as they are continuing to do so too and achieving so much. I love having a network of outstanding people who are caring and supportive.”

Melissa Rossi, Europe

Melissa is currently a research student in France specializing in Cryptology.  A former scholar got her thinking about what she has done for women in tech and what more she can do which motivated her to apply for the scholarship.

She says the retreat was an opportunity to meet many original and independent minds that left her inspired. Her motivation to challenge gender inequality in scientific research has been boosted after this experience. She sums up advice to potential applicants, “Be positive! Go for it – you will never stop being amazed by what can be achieved.” She encourages women to speak out and continue a dialogue about the underrepresentation of women in technology.

Hispanic Heritage Month Pay It Forward Challenge: Recognizing students making a difference (Part 3 of 3)

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept 15 - Oct 15), Google hosted a Pay It Forward Challenge to recognize Latinx/Hispanic student leaders who are advancing opportunities for their local communities. We ended up receiving so may great submissions that we decided to make this a three-part blog series. This is the final piece. We’re excited to share the work of the students below and hope you’ll be inspired by their stories.

ICYMI, be sure to check out Part 1 and Part 2 of this post.

Diana Lee Guzman
Diana Lee Guzman is a recent graduate from New York University with a B.S. in Computer Science. She grew up in Phoenix, AZ in a primarily Latinx community. She is currently the Founder/CEO of Coding in Color and a Software Engineer at Boeing. 
Diana started her non-profit, Coding in Color, with the purpose of providing educational resources to underrepresented students in computing. “Over the past 9 months, I had the pleasure of working alongside two of my amazing high school colleagues, Lirio and Robert, to create a Summer Coding Camp, specifically for our community. We worked alongside our high school administration (Carl Hayden Community High School) where they provided us with a classroom and computers. The course was sponsored by individual members of the community who helped with supplies and providing stipends for students. I taught the course for three weeks where we covered topics such as Web Development, Object Orientated Programming, Robotics, and Artificial Intelligence.”

After the course ended, Diana continued mentoring, and along with her mentee, created websites for two local Latina business owners with businesses catering towards the Spanish speaking community.

What inspires Diana about Hispanic Heritage Month
"What I enjoy the most about Hispanic Heritage month is being able to see all these amazing opportunities being acted on by people just like me, people who speak like me, eat some of the same food as me and listen to the same music as me. I enjoy seeing the celebration of our cultures and accomplishments and it always makes me hopeful that the next generation, next graduating class, next wave of us will be able to accomplish more than we ever have."

Katerina Alvarez
Katerina Alvarez is a Posse Foundation Scholar at Mount Holyoke College studying Statistics and Sociology. Katerina is a Latina civic leader and STEM advocate committed to “engaging purposefully in mutually-beneficial community partnerships to advance social justice, education and community development with tech.”
Through her work as a Mount Holyoke Community-Based Learning (CBL) STEM Fellow for The Care Center, a transformative education program, Katerina helps support and empower young Latinx mothers to complete their high school equivalency exams and pursue higher education and successful careers in tech.

“For the past year, I've recruited over 50 Spanish-speaking tutors and developed an innovative partnership with Makerspace – a laboratory on campus which aims at inspiring and educating underrepresented women in STEM by blending the arts and sciences together to create fun and engaging workshops. As I continue collaborating with The Care Center, I am also mentoring and supporting 30 other CBL Fellows, to help them build successful and sustainable partnerships with their community partners.”

Katerina’s advice to others
"Remember: Never assume, be transparent, and complete a '360 review' frequently, so you may learn from the organization and volunteers about what is and what isn't working."

What inspires Katerina about Hispanic Heritage Month
"Hispanic Heritage Month inspires me because it reminds me of my Cuban grandparents who taught me the importance of perseverance, determination, and believing in the unbelievable. I remember my grandfather, a 90-year old tennis player and painter, vividly sharing their story of love and sacrifice as they immigrated to the US while my wise and practical grandmother fact-checked him along the way. They've empowered me to embrace my roots and live my best life with passion and resilience. This month, and every month, I celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month for my grandparents, Aba y Abu."

Angel Ortega
Angel is a graduate student at The University of Texas at El Paso. He was born and raised in Mexico City before moving to El Paso to seek an education. He is an avid learner with interests in technology, culture, foreign languages, and education. He is also a big Harry Potter fan.
Angel has been a long-time member of the Sol y Agua Project. The Sol y Agua Project aims to attract middle school students, specifically minorities, from the Rio Grande Region into STEM fields and careers with a focus on water sustainability, biodiversity, and the human-impact on the environment. “I combined my passion for technology and education with my background as a minority, international student, and Computer Science major to teach children in El Paso about computing, computational thinking, and water.” His goal is to help and inspire young students to pursue a higher education, ideally in STEM.

Angel is also very active in the Computing Alliance of Hispanic Serving Institutions (CAHSI). He was recently selected as a CAHSI Scholar and currently acts as the CAHSI Student Coordinator for the Google TechExchange Program.

Angel’s advice to others
“Sometimes the things with the most impact are those that seem the least significant. You'll never know how impactful you can be, until you try. Go out there and be the change you want to see in your community.”

Orlando Gil 
Orlando lives in Harlem, New York. He is graduating soon from Baruch College with a concentration in Data Analytics.
On campus, Orlando helped over 30 undocumented students share their stories in a university publication. “My mission is to uplift the contributions of immigrants in American society, and positively shape the rhetoric towards undocumented immigrants. It has taught me the value of owning one's story and using it to combat stereotypes.”

As an intern at the U.S. House of Representatives, Orlando helped lobby on behalf of undocumented students such as himself and “bring light to the various issues faced by those of us who are currently DACA recipients.”

“Although the efforts to pass the DREAM Act, a legislative solution, were not successful, I see far more value in the self-determination of immigrants as natural entrepreneurs. For that reason, I am passionate about helping undocumented entrepreneurs bridge gaps in business and technical expertise.” This is why he has launched his new initiative – Dream Ventures NYC.  “Dream Ventures is a springboard for innovation, education and communal entrepreneurship within the immigrant community. We help ‘UndocuPreneurs’ finance their bold ideas, and pair them with experienced advisors.”

Through advocacy, Orlando has been able to share and perform his writing at various magazine launch events, festivals, and television. 

Orlando’s advice to others
“Know yourself and understand your ties to your own community. It will reinforce your passion for helping and persevering through constant challenges. Also, analyze your available network and see how you can create value. Value is not always determined by the structure of power—one may not have the power to bring about overnight change, but one can gradually and creatively find the resources to do so.”

Andreina Martinez 
Andreina Martinez is currently a senior at The City College of New York majoring in Psychology with an interest in public service. She is from the Dominican Republic and came to the United States in 2010.
Andreina volunteers as a High School Educator, with Peer Health Exchange, an organization that wants to provide young kids with the right tools and information to make smart decisions about their health. She previously interned with the New York State Senate where she focused on constituent casework ranging from housing issues to military benefits. After spending last summer in Washington D.C “interning and learning more about the legislative process our nation goes through,” Andreina took on another internship in the New York City Council where she works to help low income communities and immigrants.

Andreina’s advice to others
"We don't know who we can impact with our actions and even with our words. It's extremely important to know the value of your voice and your story, when you are able to share those things with the world you will see change in your communities. Give it a try!"


Itzel Tapia
Itzel is currently a junior attending the University of Texas at Dallas full-time on a full scholarship. She is majoring in Software Engineering and Artificial Intelligence with a minor in Cognitive Science. She was born in Dallas, Texas, after her parents immigrated from Mexico. She is the first person in her family to attend college, and has a three year old daughter.

When Itzel returned to school in 2016 she began volunteering at with Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society in the form of scholarship fundraisers, food drives, and mentorship. This is where she found her passion – helping other students.

Itzel began mentoring classmates on the abundance of resources available to help them succeed. This led to helping with scholarship applications, class registration, major exploration, university admissions, and even tutoring. Eventually she began reaching out to high school juniors and seniors who desperately needed help navigating their last years of high school, in preparation for college.

“It is so common to encounter Hispanic students who are intimidated and thus unsure of whether they should attend college. There is so little help offered in the advising offices, and so many resources that go unused. I’ve always loved research, so collecting a growing list of resources, scholarship opportunities, and the like came naturally – once I knew where to look.”

“First-generation college students cannot count on the experience of our parents to help guide us in our journeys, we rely solely on our own grit, and the few generous mentors we encounter along the way. I felt personally responsible to be that mentor to every student I met who needed help.”

Itzel is also passionate about increasing the interest of girls and women in STEM. She has begun mentoring girls who cannot afford coding/robotics camps, and hopes to inspire them and give them the self-confidence to become the engineers, scientists, and doctors of the future.

What inspires Itzel about Hispanic Heritage Month?
“I am inspired by the stories of other Latinx who come from humble backgrounds and still find their own ways to help our community. It’s a powerful thing to see a mother of four, raising money for scholarships by throwing a Tamalada. It gives great comfort knowing that I’ll never be alone, and that no matter what, someone will always step-in to offer me their help with a few Tamales in tow.”

Keep up with us on social (TwitterInstagramFacebookG+YouTube) to hear more about our initiatives!

My Path to Google: Jesus Lugo, Windows Systems Administrator

Welcome to the 31st installment of our blog series “My Path to Google.” These are real stories from Googlers, interns, and alumni highlighting how they got to Google, what their roles are like, and even some tips on how to prepare for interviews.

Today’s post is all about Windows Systems Administrator, Jesus Lugo. Read on!
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I was born in Ciudad Ojeda, Venezuela and moved to Miami, Florida when I was ten years old. Shortly after high school, I joined the Marine Corps where I served for 4 years as a Hygiene Equipment Operator. I was very fortunate because once my chain of command learned of my technical abilities, I was allowed to use these skills as an unofficial Information Systems Coordinator. In this capacity I helped manage our computers and networking equipment during my two deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
After finishing my active duty service, I attended Miami Dade College, where I received my associate’s degree in Business Administration. After two years of working as an on-site customer engineer, I decided to go back to school for my bachelor’s degree in Information Technology from Florida International University.

I am obsessed with new technology and in particular, hardware. When I am not at work, I spend time looking for ways to integrate new technology into my home. I am generally the first to buy and test new tech.

Whenever I get a chance, I enjoy helping Google at student conferences like those run by Student Veterans of America (SVA), Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). I talk to students about what it is like to work at Google and how to prepare their resumes and their interviewing skills.
Volunteering at one of the numerous student conferences Jesus helps out at.
What’s your role at Google?
I am currently a Windows Systems Administrator. My team, WinOps, develops, maintains, and supports all the Windows OS related infrastructure for use within Google. We are directly responsible for the configuration and health of all Windows clients and we own the infrastructure and build process for all Windows servers. Within my team, I am part of the configuration management group – specifically tasked with ensuring systems are compliant with internal policy configurations.

What I like most about this role is the continuous evolution. We are always looking for ways to innovate and improve our service offerings. As much as possible we collaborate with other platform teams (Linux and Mac) to build cross-platform tools.

I am currently rewriting a Linux specific tool to work on all other platforms, and integrate a Firebase Cloud Messaging listener to receive notifications from a centralized location. This new software will allow us to manage software distribution and enforcement throughout the fleet, and how tech support teams manage software requests and assist users in getting what they need to get their job done.

Complete the following: "I [choose one: code/create/design/build] for …"
I build to provide a good Windows user experience while maintaining platform security.

What inspires you to come in every day?
I am grateful I get to work with an amazing and supportive team, and the projects I get to work on are always challenging and help me grow both personally and professionally.

I am also very excited about the direction we are headed as Google's cloud business continues to grow. We are constantly looking for opportunities to open source our tools so that other systems administrators can have alternate ways of solving problems we've faced.

In my current project, we are migrating our software distribution tools into solutions that are used across all of our platforms, are largely automated, use code review processes to manage changes, and are more scalable.  This results in releases that are easier to track and maintain, saving us countless engineering hours.
Can you tell us about your decision to enter the process?
During my associate’s degree, I did a project about Google and discovered a lot of information about the culture and many of the perks.

On my last semester at FIU I applied to many companies in South Florida, and even after graduation I had not heard from any of them. As I looked through many different career sites, I decided to see if Google had a job opening that matched my skills. I had applied to many different large companies in Silicon Valley, but I hadn’t heard back from any of them and was sure that Google would be the same way.

Since I was working and attending school full-time, I was unable to take any internships in order to gain real-world experience in IT. However, my job as a Customer Engineer required being knowledgeable in over 20 distinct systems, being capable of troubleshooting issues to root cause, and having great customer service skills.

Two weeks after graduation,  I discovered Google’s Information Technology Residency Program and applied for the job. Even though it was a fixed term position, it was an opportunity to work at Google, and see what it was like from the inside.

How did the recruitment process go for you?
It was a smooth, though long process. I applied directly from the careers site job posting on December 23, 2011, and received the first email from a recruiter on January 3rd, 2012. I had my technical phone screen scheduled on January 7th in the afternoon, and two days later I received a call from the recruiter inviting me for on-site interviews in Mountain View, CA.

My on-site interview date was set two months after the phone screen, which allowed me to brush up on many of the topics I felt I could have done better during the phone screen.

I received the results from the interviews the day before my birthday, and I was so excited when I heard the news from the recruiter, that I accepted without waiting to hear the rest of the offer.

What do you wish you’d known when you started the process?
Recruiters often send or mention topics that may be covered during the technical interviews, focus on those during your studying.

Some available positions may have a time constraint, be sure to work with your recruiter or coordinator to ensure you have ample time to study prior to the technical interviews.
Can you tell us about the resources you used to prepare for your interview or role?
I read "The Google Resume" by Gayle Laakmann McDowell. I found it to be an invaluable resource, and it helped me a great deal.

I read a lot of books on basic IT topics, as the job that I applied for was as an IT generalist. It was tough deciding on what was important, so I focused at the time on having a good understanding of how things worked. I used CBT Nuggets, and other video training tools I could get my hands on. Since I used to drive a lot, I used them like audiobooks and kept track of topics that I needed to view later for additional understanding.

Do you have any tips you’d like to share with aspiring Googlers?
Anything on your resume is fair game, ensure that you can talk at length about anything on it. I personally had listed a number of programming languages on my resume without specifying a level of expertise and was asked to solve a programming problem during my initial interviews, even though the role didn't necessarily require coding skills.

It's best to think out loud, ask clarifying questions, and verify your assumptions with the interviewer, to avoid going too far in the wrong direction in an interview. Do your research about the role you’re applying for, and think of questions you want answered by your interviewers. 

Getting to know a research intern: Renata Khasanova

Google's research tackles the most challenging problems in CS and related fields. Being bold and taking risks is essential to what we do, and research teams are embedded throughout Google, allowing our discoveries to affect billions of users each day.

The compelling benefit to researchers is that their innovations can be implemented fast and big. Google’s unique infrastructure facilitates ideas’ speed to market – allowing their ideas to be trialled by millions of users before their papers are even published.

Today we’re talking to PhD Research Intern, Renata Khasanova, a student from École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland. As an intern with one of our Google AI research teams in the Zürich office, Renata’s work focused on noise resynthesis. Read on!
So tell us about yourself and your PhD topic …
I am currently pursuing my PhD in the signal processing group in EPFL Lausanne under the supervision of Professor Pascal Frossard. My main research topic is extending deep neural network systems to irregular domains such as graphs. For example, we have recently shown that we gain significant accuracy improvement when using graphs for omnidirectional image classification tasks.

Why did you apply for an internship at Google and how supportive was your PhD advisor?
I was always very interested in doing applied research and Google offers the unique opportunity to work on various research topics in application to real tasks. Therefore during my PhD, I decided to apply for an internship in the Compression group led by Jyrki Alakuijala. My supervisor, Professor Frossard, was very supportive and saw this as a great opportunity for me.

What project was your internship focused on?
I worked on improving the new compression algorithm, PIK, designed at Google. My project was really challenging and fun. The main goal of my project was to improve the quality of PIK at the high compression rate.

At Google we care about the responsiveness of web pages, and we look for new ways to make loading faster. Transferring large amounts of data is one reason for slowness, and images constitute a large fraction of that data traffic. This can be mitigated by compressing images more, but higher compression rates reduce visual quality. In this work, we propose a method for resynthesizing the noise that is commonly lost in image compression. We show that resynthesizing the noise increases the perceived quality of the images.
Zoom of dancer’s back with three variations: 1. normal compressed version 2. uncompressed original 3. compressed version with added noise.
In our study we looked at the impact of noise generation within the PIK image compression algorithm. With higher compression densities, details disappear and images look overly smooth. Our noise re-generation system keeps the images looking more natural even when aggressively compressed.
Noise regeneration system improves the perceived quality of lossy compression algorithms by adding 'texture'.
In both experiments we conducted (one focused on perceived quality, the other on perceived authenticity), we saw improvements well above the 95% confidence level. The images are more pleasant for the users and the added noise makes compressed images look more natural.

Did you publish at Google during your internship?

In the end of the internship, we published a paper describing our approach. I really enjoyed the process of writing the paper as all my colleagues were very supportive and helped me a lot. I have also received a lot of help from other teams in Google regarding the user study experiments. Overall the whole process of publishing was very easy and enjoyable.

How closely connected was the work you did during your internship to your PhD topic?
During my internship, I had the opportunity to work on something related, yet quite different from my main research topic at EPFL. I really loved this because it gave me the chance to learn about the topic of compression and its challenges. I have received a lot of support on this from my colleagues at Google. Though this area is not directly related to my PhD topic, my knowledge in graph signal processing helped in determining the direction I should take while working on my internship project.

Did you write your own code?
Writing code is an important part of Google projects. For me it was a great opportunity to practice and receive feedback from very talented engineers. This allowed me to improve both my programming and algorithmic skills. At the end of my internship project we made our code public, which was a very easy process and I received a lot of help on it from the members of my team. 

What key skills have you gained from your time at Google?
During my time at Google I have learnt a lot of exciting things about various compression algorithms and methodologies for conducting user studies. I also got hands-on experience with novel Google technologies for coding and code reviews. Furthermore, I participated in a very exciting robotics project with the Google Brain team. This gave me the chance to work with great researchers and engineers as well as allowed me to discover various connections between state-of-the-art machine learning algorithms and neuroscience.

What impact has this internship experience had on your PhD?
My internship at Google broadened my horizons in different ways. It introduced me to various fields such as compression and neuroscience. It also enriched and diversified my knowledge, allowing me to look at my PhD research topic from a wider perspective. My internship inspired me to extend my PhD work to compression algorithms and seek for the possible improvements that can be done in this area using the power of graph signal processing.

Looking back on your experiences now: Why should a PhD student apply for an internship at Google? Any advice to offer?
Google is an amazing place to work. Here you can have an impact on both the research community and the real products. I recommend PhD students apply for an internship, because it is a great opportunity to work with and gain unique experiences from very smart people. At Google, I was amazed by the variety of research directions that people are working on and the freedom they have in choosing them. This combined with access to the most advanced and well-designed infrastructure gives you, as an intern, a great opportunity to do research that will impact people’s lives. Apart from these advantages – Google is a very fun place to work. There were numerous events organized to bring researchers from very different areas together to share knowledge and exchange ideas.

Hispanic Heritage Month Pay It Forward Challenge: Recognizing students making a difference (Part 2 of 3)

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept 15 - Oct 15), Google hosted a Pay It Forward Challenge to recognize Latinx/Hispanic student leaders who are advancing opportunities for their local communities. We’re excited to share the work of the students below and hope you’ll be inspired by their stories.

After receiving so may great submissions, we've decided to make this a three-part blog post. ICYMI, be sure to check out Part 1 of this post and stay tuned for Part 3.

Claudia Saavedra
Claudia is a student at Rutgers University-Newark studying Public Affairs and Administration. She was born in Chile and her family immigrated to the United States. She is the youngest of six and is the first in her family to go to college.
As someone coming from poverty, an immigrant, and a first generation high school graduate, she received no guidance when it came to the college process. She did not want anyone to go through the same experience. When Claudia was 17 years old, she founded college access workshops to help low-income and first-generation students through the college process. As a result, every student participant graduated from high school and attended college with scholarships. In an effort to scale her workshops, when she was a freshman in college, she founded FlairNow - an online mentoring website where she mentored over 100 low-income and first-generation students through the college admission process.

Her platform is currently working with Newark Public Schools, and her first partnering school is West Side High School. FlairNow helps Westside high school students navigate the process from the time they are in 9th grade and beginning the college exploration process to the time they graduate. Claudia's goal, "is for every student, no matter their background, to graduate from high school and enroll in a college or trade school."

What inspires Claudia about Hispanic Heritage Month
“Hispanic Heritage Month Inspires me because as an immigrant and Latina, this month honors the sacrifices the Hispanic/Latinx community makes to live up to the "American Dream" in the United States. Regardless of the obstacles encountered, we are still fearless, bold, and hungry to make the world we live in a better place. In short, we make things happen no matter of how much we have.”

Alejandro Chardon
Alejandro was previously a student at the University of Puerto Rico and is currently a senior at the University of Central Florida studying Health Services Administration.
Starting with the "Master Plan for Bicycles" at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez, Alejandro helped develop cycling infrastructure from scratch and paint the first bicycle lane in the history of the University of Puerto Rico. From this organization stemmed BiciCoop – the first bicycle shop established in the University of Puerto Rico. With this start-up, Alejandro and his co-founders created part-time jobs for students and promoted the culture of entrepreneurship on campus.

After Hurricane Maria, Alejandro, and hundreds of Puerto Rican students, left the island in search of better opportunities to continue their studies. The University of Central Florida granted them in-state-tuition for one semester. Alejandro quickly got involved with the Puerto Rican Student Association and helped put together a proposal to extend the in-state-tuition waiver for a whole year. As a result, the board of trustees extended the tuition waiver to Spring 2023.

Alejandro’s advice to others
“With time I have realized that the most valuable assets I obtain from any project are the relationships cultivated. The people that you work with become your friends and your supporters, as you become theirs."

Arnold Moctezuma
Arnold Moctezuma is a first-generation Mexican raised in New York City. He currently studies Computer Science and Information Security at John Jay College. 
Working as a peer mentor at LaGuardia Community College with CREAR Futuros – a City University of New York (CUNY) wide program spearheaded by the Hispanic Federation – Arnold helps support college retention and graduation rates for Latinx students. “I share stories of my experiences to inspire and motivate a higher sense of self and value in others.”

“Growing up in NYC as a first-generation Mexican, I didn't always understand who I was and where I belonged.” With the help of the America Needs You Scholarship Program Arnold was able to improve his interview and public speaking skills while getting to know other first-generation fellows, which further motivated him. “I see it as a responsibility to myself and others to continue building the change that I want to see in this world by encouraging others to find for themselves the opportunities that will help them grow.” Reflecting on his accomplishments, Arnold was inspired to start a blog to further document and share information and resources specific to the Hispanic and Latinx communities.

What inspires Arnold about Hispanic Heritage Month
“Identity is important to everyone, regardless of our individual backgrounds. Many people share different cultures through their lineage, complicating their sense of identity. Hispanic Heritage Month, for me, is a way of including and recognizing everyone who identifies as Latinx or Hispanic into a big loving community full of color and life.”

Marcelo López
Marcelo is a senior at Middlebury College studying International and Global Studies with a focus on Latin America. Marcelo also has a minor in American Studies, with a Critical Race Theory focus. He was born and raised in Richmond, California, and when he is not busy studying, he is dancing in one of his college's dance crews – Evolution.
Marcelo established the first Queer and Trans People of Color (QTPOC) affinity group at Middlebury College during his sophomore year. He founded the group after hearing many of his friends express that they felt there were no LGBTQ+ groups/spaces on campus with the majority of members who could relate to their ethnic/cultural backgrounds.

“When I kicked off the QTPOC initiative two years ago, I intended for the space to be one where not just students, but faculty and staff could also engage. That was one of the largest visions I had in my head when establishing the space. After two years, and with Middlebury increasing its diversity efforts, the number of people benefitting from this space has quadrupled. As the founder of this initiative, it brings me peace knowing that this space will live on after my time at Middlebury.”

Marcelo’s advice to others
“In order to effectively inspire change in others, I believe that it is first necessary for one to inspire change within oneself. You, as an individual, have to be the first person to believe in whatever project or movement that you conceive. Once that’s done—well there’s nowhere to go but up.”

Lesly Bohuchot
Lesly is a student at theUniversity of Colorado Boulder in the engineering and applied mathematics department. She is from Houston, Texas and in addition to engineering, she loves to sing and draw.
After coming back from a 2018 Python conference (PyCon), Lesly and another friend revived the Houston PyLadies MeetUp group that had been inactive for over two years. This time, however, they wanted it to be more than just a meet up. Lesly wanted to create an avenue for educational opportunities for young girls and women in general to get into STEM.

“So I took it upon myself, coordinating with a few other wonderful women to not only bring PyLadies back to Houston, but to turn it into an outreach and volunteer program.” They recently held a large event welcoming all women traveling to Houston for the Grace Hopper Celebration and are actively coordinating with schools and other programs to grow their impact. “I want the Houston PyLadies to stand on its own and grow to one be one of the biggest chapters in the country.”

Lesly’s advice to others
“Every person matters. No matter how small we think our impact is, it can be huge to a single person. That is the most important thought to keep in mind. Do not be discouraged. Focus on the people that will benefit and be helped.”

Ryan and Dani DaCosta
Ryan and Dani DaCosta are a brother-sister duo behind "AYUDA! Tutoring" at their high school. Ryan is now a freshman in the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan while Dani is a sophomore at Suffern High School in their hometown of Suffern, New York.
As a junior in high school, Ryan created the program, AYUDA! Tutoring – a free tutoring service targeting the large population of Latinx/Hispanic immigrants in Suffern. Ryan explains, “Many students move to the United States and struggle to adjust to classes taught mostly in English and they have limited resources to seek out extra help.” Dani currently serves as a facilitator of AYUDA! Tutoring and is responsible for coordinating and recruiting new tutors. She ensures all involved students have someone to assist them with homework, test prep, language practice, or anything else they may want. The group of tutors offer academic support as well as communication skills to English Language Learner classmates.

In college, Ryan has become involved with the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and the Michigan Community Scholars Program – a living-learning community dedicated to social justice and community service. Dani is still managing AYUDA! Tutoring while balancing schoolwork and playing field hockey, basketball and lacrosse throughout the school year.

Ryan and Dani’s advice to others
“To anyone looking to start a community service initiative, start small and use any resource you have. It may take a while to scale down a larger goal and find your first step, but that leads to your second and so on.”

Luis Gasca
Luis Gasca is a sophomore at Rutgers University – New Brunswick studying Environmental Business and Economics. Luis was born in the small city of Popayan, Colombia and grew up in Trenton, New Jersey. 
Throughout high school Luis was involved in Mill Hill P.E.E.R.S – a non-profit youth development program that focused on encouraging responsible strategies throughout Trenton by presenting skits to the community on bullying, dating violence, drug awareness, and much more. 

Once in college, Luis was elected to serve as President for C.O.S.I.N.E – an organization that advocates academic excellence amongst underrepresented students and engages in community service. C.O.S.I.N.E creates a safe space where individuals can seek resources, connections, and find networking opportunities. 

What inspires Luis about Hispanic Heritage Month
“Hispanic Heritage Month is a month that brings enlightenment to my spirit. It is a month full of joy, tradition, smiles, and good times. I enjoy the events that are usually put on this month because they unify the community and allow everyone to connect, bond, and really build on each individual's sense of culture.”

Keep up with us on social (TwitterInstagramFacebookG+YouTube) to hear more about our initiatives!

How to Start Coding (Without Paying Much) Today!

School's back in session, and you're curious how you can start coding in your free time? Never fear, because Aaron Hobson, Code Next Oakland coach and lead curriculum developer, has rallied to assemble a list of opportunities and tools that you can pull from. While geared towards middle and high school students – we've found these resources to be effective for new learners of all ages who are interested in coding, the arts, or just making something with their hands. 

SO YOU WANT ONLINE CODING TOOLS...

Here is a list of free (or in some cases, “free trial”) tools that you can use if you wish to learn programming on your own. They are organized into arbitrary “levels” in order to help you determine where you might want to start, based on experience. 

Level 1 (Beginner, never really tried to code)


Level 2 (Done some basic block-based coding)

  • Move away from block-based to actual code with Alice 2 (free), CodeCombat (free trial) and CodeHS (purchase required).

Level 3 (Ready to start creating apps)

  • Alice 3 (free) is an upgrade from Alice 2. You can also try your hand at MIT App Inventor (free) to start creating your own apps!

Level 4 (Looking to code with actual languages like Python)
  • Processing (free) is a software sketchbook, and great for creating cool art and graphics. Greenfoot (free) and BlueJ (free) are also great free coding platforms.
  • What about going straight for a language that our own Google engineers use? Try a hand at Python. Check out these two online textbooks—Invent with Python and A Byte of Python.
  • There are also other websites with huge collections of computer science courses worth checking out, including CodeHS, Coursera, Udacity, and Code Academy. These cover artificial intelligence, machine learning, and more.

SO YOU WANT CREATIVE TOOLS...
If you’re the type who is looking to get a bit more creative and experimental with your code this summer – here is a list of tools you can use to develop video games, graphics, 3D designs, music, and more. Most of these are free to use, while others have free trials. 

For those who love creating games:

For those into computer graphics, design, and art: 


For those looking to create their own blog or website:

For those who want to create their own music or audio files:



SO YOU WANT TO GET YOUR HANDS DIRTY WITH PHYSICAL COMPUTING...

Check out the following list of tools for students interested in building computers, robots, gadgets, and so forth (not all are free, but all are helpful).
  • If you want to start off with the basics, littleBits are kits filled with electronic building blocks to create cool projects and small networks of circuits.
  • Use Arduinos or Raspberry Pis to build DIY computer programs. Or, go for a full Kano kit to build a full computer, which includes a Raspberry Pi, a wireless keyboard, and a speaker.
  • Want to make a banana play a song when you peel it open? Check out MakeyMakeys – kits that allow you to connect typical, everyday objects to computer programs.




LOOKING FOR MORE?

We’ve got plenty more tidbits and recommendations for computer science education. Interested in learning more from the Code Next lab? Sign up for our free newsletter—and happy coding!