Andover is joining the annual Technovation challenge for the fourth year in a row. The competition aims to teach girls entrepreneurship, business, and app design skills. Teams of four will create mobile apps that address a problem in their community. Nicole Gilmore, a Harvard professor and creator of Savannah, a startup that aims to pair personal service providers with consumers, spoke at Andover’s launch event last Monday.
“I think girls need more of a role or will take more of a role in leading innovation across various platforms. Technology is just one where there are not enough women and girls who are creating, who are building in that space,” said Gilmore in an interview with The Phillipian.
She continued, “The opportunity to motivate and inspire very gifted and talented girls to launch innovative ideas charges me. If you do it, if you push through and persevere, join a team, and take that team to the end the reward on the back end is just incredible.”
Jocelyn Shen ’18 created an app in 2016 called Sorbet, which encouraged productivity and time management. She is returning with high hopes and a new perspective.
“My Upper year I took Computer Science-630 seminars, and those really helped me with becoming a more advanced coder and increasing my computer science knowledge,” said Shen.
“I also learned a lot about business pitches through Technovation and MIT Launch… I think that this year the whole process of coding and business plans will be a lot smoother,” added Shen.
Miley Kaufman ’19, a new competitor, said the launch event inspired her to form a team and dive into the competition.
“There are less girls in the tech industry, and I think competitions like this [encourage and allow for] both male and female voices in the tech industry,” said Kaufman.
After the competition, many students have walked away with a newfound passion for app development and coding, with many continuing to study computer science, according to Maria Litvin, Instructor in Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science and a faculty mentor of Technovation.
Recently, the Computer Science department created a new formal course on iOS coding to accommodate for students’ growing interest in app design.
“Several girls reported that they really got a bug to do this — they got paid internships in places, [and] several of them are continuing in computer science. It is documented that those who participate in this program are more likely to take more computer science courses and major in computer science. It just sparks interest,” said Litvin.
Although the launch event already took place, Litvin still encourages more girls to join Technovation, regardless of previous experience in coding. She said non-coding roles, including business strategies and graphics, are pivotal to each team’s success.
“In one team, you need a programmer, a graphic designer, [and] someone who writes a very serious business plan. You need to do a survey for marketing. It’s really like a startup. It is hard work for everybody,” she said.