What do you do?
While my title is software engineer, you can also call me a computer scientist or a computer programmer. All of these titles mean that my super power is writing code or programming computers, which means that I can write instructions that a computer can follow. I write code to build technology platforms that just might help save our planet! My work focuses specifically on protecting endangered animals like sharks, elephants, and killer whales.
My expertise is machine learning, which is a type of artificial intelligence (AI). The AI I build trains computers to do the most tedious aspects of conservation work so that experts can focus on more important tasks.
Why did you choose this field?
I chose this field because I love problem solving, and I knew I wanted a job where I could make a positive difference in the world. However, I didn't learn to code until college. Before I started learning to code, I didn't have any idea that coding could be such an impactful way to build the kind of world you want to see. I also believed that because I have a wide array of creative interests that are not related to technology at all, that I was not someone who could be good at coding. I thought that you had to be obsessed with building computers and playing video games in order to be a coder. I now know how completely false that is! I learned that technology is just a tool to bring your ideas to life, and you can combine technology with any other interests you have, including science, music, animals, fashion, sports, and anything else! Those other interests give you perspective and experiences that will make you an even better problem solver, innovator, and programmer! I decided to pursue this field because coding is creative, analytical and a skill that can empower you to build solutions to problems you care about.
What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?
Ever since I was little, I have LOVED killer whales. I am amazed by their beauty and power and playfulness and intelligence. Now, I am building technology to help protect them and keep them around for generations to come. That is an achievement that makes me excited to go to work every day, and it is something that I know younger Gracie would be incredibly proud of.
Why do you love working in STEM?
I love working in STEM because there is no limit to what I can build. STEM is almost like magic because the whole purpose is to identify problems and questions we are curious about and to then come up with solutions and answers. I love that STEM allows me to be creative and to contribute to causes that I care about. My work is making the world a better place, and that change I am working toward is what keeps me looking forward.
Best advice for next generation?
Never give up! STEM fields need your insight and your perspective in order to keep moving forward. Nobody has the same experiences and ideas as you, so we need your voice in the room. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Your ideas are important and the world needs to hear them! Keep going!
Inspo quote / fun fact / role model
"A ship in port is safe. But that's not what ships are built for." -Grace Hopper