Events

POV: My real world experience at Watson DevCon

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People say there’s a first for everything. A few weeks ago, I attended my first big tech conference, the IBM Watson Developer’s Conference. For many, it may not be a big deal, but it sure was for me. I represented a real organization, got an attendee badge to prove it, and even missed a day of my senior year of high school.

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AOL #BUILTBYGIRLS, a platform encouraging girls to be builders and creators in our tech-enabled economy, offered me the opportunity to serve as its ambassador. My mission was to learn about up and coming IBM Watson technology, promote #BUILTBYGIRLS , and advocate for girls to take their place in the tech world. It was a humbling and inspiring experience.

IBM gathers top industry leaders and developers at Watson DevCon

Prior to the conference I felt a mix of excitement and anticipation, even though I was well-coached by my #BUILTBYGIRLS mentor, Danielle Letayf, on how best to stay focused and sustain my mission. Frankly, I didn’t know how tech conferences worked or how formal the attendees would be. I stressed over how I would communicate with professionals and how I should convey the focus of girls in STEM fields. Little did I know how courteous, supportive, laid-back and curious all the attendees with whom I interacted were.

After wandering around the conference hall and exploring the various labs, activity booths, and flash talk stations, I decided that I’d better start talking and do a little less walking. So, I picked somebody who was not busy coding and discussing IoT or AI, and introduced myself. The more I did that, the more I began to appreciate how receptive and genuinely interested attendees were in what I had to say. Soon enough, I was collaborating with developers to complete the CoderPower coding challenges and programming my own IBM Watson TJ Bot. It was amazing to see the power of code and Watson technology when a simple cardboard robot was transformed into an embodied cognitive bot whom I could talk to and interact with.
Battle of the Bots: Watson Developer Conference hosts bot competitions

I had an incredible realization that my passions, ambitions, and ideas were finally being taken seriously by developers and professionals. Oddly enough, the techies I met understood me more than many of my peers. We shared the same passions. From exploring travel technology to social networking and cooking, the one thing we all had in common was our commitment and desire to leverage technology to build innovative solutions to tackle real world problems and address human needs.

 

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