Daniëlle Suurlant earned her Bachelor’s Degree in ICT, Mediatechnology from Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands. She is a software developer with specialties in web and mobile technologies. Below she shares a little about her career and the inspiration behind it.
What is your specific area of STEM?
How would you explain your STEM field to young girls?
I write to computers in order to tell them what to do. When you see websites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Gmail, it is built by people who do what I do. And when you use apps on your phone, they also talk to websites. Web developers build everything on the internet.
What traits might a child possess that may indicate an interest or aptitude for your STEM field?
Curiosity about how things work, and why they work; interested in puzzles, and building things, but also very imaginative. Coming up with stories and settings and characters is actually indicative of being able to mentally create new things that are not physically tangible. An interest in that indicates an aptitude for the creativity and abstraction that you need as a developer. It isn't just about math and algorithms. Especially in girls, this quality gets underestimated as being essential to programming.
What did you know about your STEM field when you were a child?
When I was a child in the 80s personal computers were just up-and-coming. My interest was sparked by getting a Commodore64 and a manual with printed code that I could copy onto the keyboard. I started writing my own programs and changing the values of variables to see different words on my TV. I feel that if you give these tools to children, their natural curiosity and creativity will come out. Later on we got a home PC because of the 'private PC' financing project in the Netherlands in the 90s. My dad was very active with finding new software and games, took me to computer stores, and I was never discouraged from my interest in computer technology.
Why did you choose your STEM field? Were you inspired by someone?
I actually gravitated to graphic design in my late teens, and started an education focused more on media creation and design. Web development was a part of that education thankfully, and that's how I slowly drifted back towards the more programming side of things. I just found it more interesting, and I was better at it.
What are some really cool things that people in your profession work on?
My latest cool project is working on an app that takes a photo once a day and after a year, you can print your own photos. You can also see the daily pictures of other people.
Another cool project in my company is about making sure mother pigs and their piglets stay happy and healthy, all by using technology and information!
There is so much cool stuff you can do with computer science. Once you learn the basics of how to talk to computers, nothing is stopping you from building what you want. You can program a robot, build a website, build apps, or maybe the next YouTube or Instagram. You can help the environment, animals, people in a crisis... your imagination is the limit.
What inspirational message would you give young girls to inspire them to pursue STEM?
With technology, you can build whatever you can think and dream of, for yourself and for other people!
Thank you for contributing, Daniëlle!
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