Montgomery FunFest 2016 Ft. STEM Board

Last Sunday (September 25th) Montgomery, New Jersey hosted a community event. It was loads of food, music and fun including many booths represented by Montgomery High School club members.

As part of Montgomery High School’s STEM Board, Techsters showcased our very popular Unplugged Activity. We invited everyone from pre-schoolers to parents to try out the ‘Robot and Programmer’ activity. We used Speedstacks as our ‘unplugged material’ and had one person ‘program’ or give a specific set of instructions to the ‘robot’. Their goal was to create a tower of their choice and it was a BIG HIT!

This was my first experience working with the high school STEM Board and it was a great beginning to my Freshman year. I am excited to continue to explore my field of interest at my new school and represent Techsters here, too!


California Tech Tour

Summer ’16  has been packed with interesting things. As for August, I just returned from California. Despite the beautiful weather and palm trees, Cali is known for its indigenous tech-culture. During my trip, I was lucky enough to embark upon a full-on “Tech-Tour” including trips to Google, Facebook, InstagramApple, Databricks, Lyft, 500 Startups, FFL and StitchFix. Here are my takeaways from the campuses and culture.

First of all, Silicon Valley has truly upheld its reputation for being the “Tech-hub of the United States.” Most of the places that I visited were in the infamous Silicon Valley, so the general consensus is that everyone you meet there understands the power of technology and is working on using it to change what they’re passionate about, for the better.

We started our tour with revisiting Googleplex (1600 Amphitheatre Pkwy, Mountain View, CA 94043). Having been at Google when I was 5, it was great to see the T-Rex again! However, now being older I observed much more. In fact, there was much to notice in all the places I visited. From Oculus Rift demos, Girls In STEAM  promotions and out-of-this-world Swag, each aspect was inspirational, motivational and concentrated with so much new information opening up new opportunities for our digital world.

This is how Facebook describes their culture: “Facebook is defined by our hacker culture – an environment that rewards creative problem solving and rapid decision making. We encourage people to be bold. Our open culture keeps everyone informed and allows people to move around and solve the problems they care about most. We work in small teams and move fast to develop new products, constantly iterating and improving. The phrase ‘this journey is 1% finished’ is posted on our walls, reminding us that we’ve only begun to fulfill our mission to make the world more open and connected.”

However, this doesn’t only apply to Facebook or big tech companies. I see it in many places, large and small. Whether its a new startup incubator like FFL or 500, small business or big company like Apple… each is making a difference. By empowering innovation and collectively, improving our world/lives with new technology, their services or their movements.
To sum up and bring it back to the premise behind Techsters, we’re empowering members to get involved into the STEAM field at an earlier age because there is so much to improve, so many ways to do it and so many opportunities awaiting you!


Techsters 2016 Production

Throughout the Techsters 2016 season there have been many opportunities for the members to tinker, ask questions to professionals, brainstorm ideas to help our community and overall, become more motivated to continue to satisfy their curiosity for technology.

This short production captures the highlights of the most recent season of Techsters and shows just how much fun we had during every session! Some of the key points that were stressed in the course of the ten weeks include: Empowering girls to speak up and get involved, discovering how important technology is to an entrepreneur and how to use technology to make a positive impact what you’re most passionate about.

To watch, please click:

2nd Annual Code For Princeton Hackathon– 1st Place Experience

This is my 2nd Code For Princeton hackathon and I must say that I feel that I’ve come a long way since the first one in June 2015.

My intention this time around was very clear. I wanted to get more people of my age involved and exposed to the hackathon community and I was able to do this through Techsters.

Techsters is a student-driven technology club that exposes middle schoolers to the power and potential of technology with hands-on activities and interactive guest-speaker sessions. We are continuing the conversation on our Instagram (@techsters_ums), Twitter (@gotechsters) and Blog (

We decided to undergo a project called “QuikStop” derived from the idea of kids missing their designated school buses by seconds. The app would allow a bus driver and a student to have instant and non-distracting contact with each other. Our team included: Venkat Cherukupalli, Shawn Krishnan, Samyuktha Chandresekar, Sara Arastu, Sanjana Jagadish Bharath, Mitali Chowdhury, Arnav Dashaputra and myself.

From the previous hackathon, the team that I was part of was made up of different people from whom I’d worked with earlier. However, this time around, I wanted to make the ratio of girls much more than it was in the times before.

I consider myself as an ambassador for Girls In STEAM. This is why Techsters is a place that encourages girls to speak up and get involved as well as exposing them to other aspects of the STEAM field.

Winning first place for our team and I was a total surprise and a complete “YAY!” moment. I was especially pleased as Team Lead that the people I had invited to come for the first time had such a positive and encouraging experience and are now asking me when the next one will be!

I would like to take this opportunity to personally thank Ms. Claire. Without her foresight and commitment there would never have been a Code For Princeton brigade. She was really encouraging to a bunch of 7th graders getting involved in their first hackathon. Thank you again and wishing you all the best your move to California!

Lastly, I want to also thank Princeton Public Library. I love this library and how it’s always there to support the community and technical advances!

Hack Millburn High School– A Major League Hacking Event

On Saturday, May 21st through until May 22nd Millburn Highschool hosted an overnight hackathon. It was Major League Hacking Event that had an amazing atmosphere! The opening ceremony kicked off the event with motivation and inspiration from keynote speaker Stephen Yang and his presentation about entrepreneurship and startups.

Then, we began with the overflow of insightful workshops. Some of my favourites that I attended throughout my stay included: Intro to Github, Intro to Java, Women Hackers Meetup and Entrepreneurship. They were great opportunities to network with people who have similar interests as you and to brainstorm ideas for future hackathon projects.

Another great privilege we were granted was renting nifty gadgets. For instance, we rented Amazon Echo, Leap Motion, Arduinos and others rented several other cool tech.

I came to the hackathon as part of a team of five boys. We all experience in common programming languages and were excited to pull an allnighter (which didn’t end up happening). We brainstormed Utinerary. A web app the utilises efficient services such as Yelp and Meetup along with your previous decisions to lead you to an interesting event near by. The special characteristic about our application is that it specifies to YOU, so YOU make the most out of your vacation to a foreign country or even your road trip to the city.

There were many breathtaking and complex projects being build around us, simultaneously. For instance, the man across from us was building a 3D printer from scratch. Another team from our school was building an ecology app and a team even made VR ski ball using the HTC Vive! Absolutely incredible and an experience that was totally worth two hours of sleep 🙂

MAGIC Final Presentations

More Active Girls In Computing is a non for profit that pairs interested girls who are seriously considering STEM as their career path, with mentors who are professionals in the topic that most interests the mentee. Their goal is to give young girls like me, the tools and knowledge to be successful in what we’re passionate about.

During my program experience, I worked on one project with my mentor, Ms. Deepa Kalkunte who is a Technology Manager at Wells Fargo. She shared information about her position and taught me about engineering, databases, programming as well as current and innovative technological advancements.

At the end of the program’s season, all of the east-coast mentees and mentors came together at Harvard Business School to share what we worked on, what we gained and a demonstration of our piece. Here is a little bit about the projects that were presented:

Gayathri Nandyalam– A genetics analysis project that observes the likelihood of ADHD in a Tuscan region compared to a Nigerian region. Gayathri imported HapMap’s data and inserted it into two arrays: Ids and Genomes. She then prompted the python code to read the data and then imported graph visualisers to create both a bar and heat map. The heat map showed that in Nigerian region, ADHD is most prevalent.

Anvitha Veeragandham– Anvitha’s project’s goal was to teach users about the human body and brain with her app that she made with MIT App Inventor. She even incorporated quizzes that tested your knowledge about the information that was taught to you through the app. However, one challenge she faced was not being able to locate specific examples for MIT App Inventor’s block system. Despite the difficulties, she created a wonderful and fully-functioning application!

Sruthi Kurada– Her project was fun and complex. It was a game of battleship that had both single and multi player modes. Furthermore, the gaming interface would let us know about how many turns we had remaining and gave the option of playing again after notifying you about if you won or lost. She did this in python, with several if/else statements and by setting the number of turns the player decides to have, as a variable.

Iccha Singh– My project utilised both hardware and software. Hardware being a Raspberry Pi, two-channel relay, male to female jumper wires and LED strip. On the other hand, the software included an Apache web server, python code and php code. My project allows for me to pull up a php user interface on a browser using my Raspberry Pi’s IP Address and once I press the ‘Light On’ button, it links to my python code that turns the LED strip on. This code communicates with GPIO Pin 7 on the Pi, and either allows or blocks the current from passing through to activate/deactivate the strip. Now, I can turn on and off my lights with a click of a button, which demonstrates the Internet of Things!

Evidently, each mentee focused on different topics of interest. This shows how vast the STEM field really is, and how technology plays a part in everything!

As the world is advancing rapidly, the environment is deteriorating at the same pace. As millionaires get richer, the poor continue to earn less. As we eat luxuriously, 15.3 million children under 18 don’t have consistent access to nutritious food, in the United States. However, proven by prosthetics that are controlled via your thoughts and fusion power, technology can solve these problems. So, let us girls, with the creative, calibrated ideas, strong work-ethic, impeccable sense of style and big hearts, show the world what we can do to better the place we live, breathe and code in.

Thank you to the president of the board of directors of GetMagic Corporation Ms. Pramanick and my mentor, Ms. Deepa, for giving me the opportunity to delve into the Engineering and Technology aspects of STEM. This opportunity has motivated me to tinker, program, design and experiment further!


My Take on Feminism

In the twenty-first century, the word “Feminist” as well as “Feminism” comes up a lot. Many people believe that the title of a Feminist should be given to females only. However, Feminism is the “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes” (Merriam Webster Dictionary). Women’s rights are Human rights therefore, a man can be just as much of a Feminist as a woman may be. Anyone who believes in equality for all, is a Feminist.

I follow the religion Sikhism. We believe in one God who we call ‘Waheguru’ and we pray to our living guru which is the Guru Granth Sahib Ji. Recently, I was enlightened by Miss Sukhjit Kaur. She expresses her passion for the Sikh religion through her powerful and creative poems. She is from Australia, has performed on Australia’s Got Talent and is now traveling the world to spread her messages of inspiration and motivation. She shines light on how Sikhs stand out in the community and also how that causes us to be a target for discrimination.This is much like the problem women may be facing. We get treated as a minority. While there has been research done to prove that women and men have the same brain types, we still get underpaid in the identical position as men are is in. Our first guru, Guru Nanak Dev Ji said “Why should we talk ill of her, who gives birth to kings? The woman is born from woman; there is none without her.” Sikhs believe in equality.  Miss Sukhjit points out our differences, but tells us why we should be proud of them. Women have just as much and maybe even more strength than men. Sikhs aren’t terrorists so they shouldn’t be treated like them.The turban is a sign of loyalty, trust and it represents an individual who protects and cultivates the Sikh community. Whether you’re a king or a proper you will sit with your legs crossed on the floor, eating the same food that the other caste is eating during Langar (free kitchen hosted by the sikh temple). It’s great to see similar steps to eradicate discriminatory behaviour towards women, taking place around the world.

I piloted Techsters with girls in mind. By offering a platform that encourages girls to be heard makes them more confident to speak up. We want them to be just as”bossy” as boys who claim to be awesome leaders. We want them to get their hands dirty, experiment, brainstorm and come to conclusions whilst being surrounded by girls and boys that are ready to collaborate!

These are some of my favorite initiatives that are making women just as notable as men, in society:

  • He For She: Pointing out that gender equality is a human rights issue (getting men involved too) and voicing every perspective to help push the movement forward!

Additionally, these are some recent issues regarding gender equality:

  • An Indian shrine is now open to women
  • New $20 bill in honour of Harriet Tubman (African American Union spy during the Civil War) and new faces to come!
  • Kylie Jenner on Feminism: “I do consider myself a feminist,” she said. “I’m a young woman, for one thing, and I don’t depend on a man or anybody else. I make my own money and start my own businesses, and I feel like I’m an inspiration for a lot of young girls who want to stand on their own.” Glamour Magazine, June cover
Screen Shot 2016-05-02 at 19.23.09.png
Miss Sukhjit Kaur and myself at a recent event.

Attending Obscura Day at Princeton Plasma Physics Lab

I visited the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab and learned all about their mission to use Fusion (combining the nucleus) as our new energy source.

Firstly, what is fusion? It is when two positively charged nuclei come close enough to chemically bond and form a hydrogen atom. If atoms such as hydrogen fuse together, they can emit energy.

In this project you’re working with plasma (the fourth state of matter), the thing found in the Sun and fluorescent lightbulbs. Therefore, when put into a container, the pressure of the air around the plasma differs compared to the air close to the wall of the container. Therefore, it forms its own gradient, pushing the plasma outwards. However, the electromagnetic forces put on the inside of the vessel are pushing it to the core, where fusion can occur and the plasma can be controlled. If it hit the wall, it’d blow up since the container is heated to over 1,000,000,000 degrees Celsius. This temperature converts the hydrogen gas into hydrogen plasma. The container is made up of lithium, which has a high melting point and isn’t reactive with hydrogen. This idea is  based off of the sun utlizing gravity to get the nuclei hot and close enough to begin fusion.

The tokamak (donut shaped, symmetrical fusion reactor) NSTX-U is what the scientists are experimenting with as of now. However, they are also several other initiatives such as the french tokamak: ITER, which can run for 24 hours and can run off of a lot of hydrogen gas at once. This is different to tokamak NSTX-U since it can only run for about 15 minutes and has to continuously get injected with small puffs of air.

So why is it important? Fusion relies on our seawater, since hydrogen isotopes can be found there! Additionally, this would be a huge step in making our planet a cleaner, greener place as we’re changing the way we power our lives. Instead of polluting our air, we would be making a move for the better and reincarnating our planet. The Princeton Plasma Physics Lab seems confident that they will achieve fusion power and we should all be supporting their mission!20160416_110258.jpg

 Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 18.58.45

Google Plus Community

Hi all Techsters members,

Even if you attended Techsters, even once, throughout our second season, please request to join our Google Plus Community so we can keep the conversation going. Many of you suggested that Techsters should’ve been longer than 11 weeks and this is how we can extend the season! Please join and tell your like-minded friends to do the same, so we can brainstorm, get informed and go to events together! Here is the link:

Excited to accept your requests to join our community 🙂


The Last Meeting of The 2016 Season

On March 22nd, the 2016 Techsters season came to a close. However, our wrap up session was filled with fun, food and ideas for the future! We rounded everybody up to discuss their thoughts about the season. What did you like most? What interested you the least? How would you change it if you were running Techsters? We got an array of answers that got us all thinking about the next steps. The members seemed to enjoy these the most:

The members liked these things because the people they listened to were credible and an inspiration. Additionally, in these sessions they got to try things out for themselves and experiment with their own ideas.

Some feedback to help us improve included:

  • Add split guest-speaker meetings where the members who are interested in one of the experts, can listen to that individual. It would allow the members to swap around and fit more into the sessions.
  • Extend the season to more than eleven weeks, and possibly 1.5 hour meetings insetad of 60 minutes.
  • Immerse the members into specific coding languages with workshops
  • Find a (couple) problem(s) that the group wanted to solve and work up to that project with help from professionals along the way. This would include coding, marketing, etc; It would also require consistent and some at-home work

These are only some of the great ideas and thoughts that we discussed during our last meeting while chewing on pizza and brownies 🙂

Overall, I thank everybody, especially Mrs. Markmann (Techsters Advisor), Mr. Delgado (UMS Principal) and UMS for supporting Techsters throughout our journey. It has been SO much fun as we all explored all aspects STEAM and much more! I can’t wait to see what’s next and to work with you all. again!!

Continue to check the InstagramTwitter and get involved with our new Google Plus community as we keep the conversation going 🙂

This slideshow requires JavaScript.