From Beginner to Machine Learning Instructor In A Year

Posted by Salim Abid, MENA Regional Lead, Developer Relations

Banner that reads Google Developer Student Clubs, Misr University for Science and Technology (MUST). Includes overhead image of person coding on a laptop

Yara Elkady, Google Developer Student Club (GDSC) Lead, can trace her passion for tech all the way back to a single moment. She was sitting in computer class when her middle school teacher posed a question to the class:

“Did you know that you can create apps and games like the ones that you spend so much time on?”

It was a simple question, but it was enough to plant the seed that would define the trajectory of Yara’s career. Following in the footsteps of so many beginners before her, Yara did a Google search to find out more about creating apps. She didn’t realize it at the time, but Yara had just taken her first steps down the path to becoming a developer.

Knowing that she wanted to pursue tech further, Yara went to college at Misr University for Science and Technology (MUST) in Giza, Egypt to study computer science. In her second year, she had begun reading more about artificial intelligence. Yara was blown away by the potential of training a machine to make decisions on its own. With machine learning, she could pursue more creative ideas that went beyond what was possible with traditional programming. As Yara explains, “It felt like magic”. Still, she felt lost like any beginner interested in AI.

Enter Google Developer Student Clubs

Yara first discovered the GDSC chapter at MUST through her school’s social media page. For the entirety of her second year, Yara attended workshops and saw firsthand how GDSC events could leave an impact on students aspiring to become developers. With help from Google Developer Student Clubs, Yara was able to grow her skills as a developer and connect with peers who shared her interests. At the end of the year, Yara applied to be a Lead so that she could help more students engage with the community. Not too long after, Yara was accepted as a GDSC Lead for the 2020-2021 season!

A classroom of people attend a GDSC MUST speaker session

A GDSC MUST speaker session

As part of becoming a GDSC Lead, Yara enrolled in the MENA DSC Leads Academy to receive hands-on training in various Google technologies. Despite being only the first time the Academy had ever been hosted (both in person and virtually), 100+ Leads from 150 GDSC chapters attended over the course of six weeks. Yara applied to the Machine Learning track and was chosen for the program. During the course, Yara mastered advanced machine learning concepts, including classical ML models, deep learning, data manipulation, and TensorFlow training. She also got to work with other Leads on advanced machine learning projects, helping her gain even more confidence in her ML knowledge.

Soon after passing the program, Yara collaborated with the GDSC Leads she met during the course to host a one-month ML track to pass on the knowledge they had learned to the GDSC community. Through the sessions she hosted, Yara was contacted by BambooGeeks, a startup that creates training opportunities for local tech aspirants to help them become industry-ready. Yara was offered a job as a machine learning instructor, and could now create sessions for the largest audience of trainees she’d ever worked with.

The road to certification

Yara didn’t realize it yet, but even more opportunities were headed her way. She learned from the GDSC MENA program manager that GDSC Leads would have the opportunity to take the TensorFlow Certification exam, if they wished to take it. It wouldn’t be easy, but Yara knew she had all the resources she needed to succeed. She wasted no time and created a study group with other GDSC Leads working to get certified. Together, Yara and her fellow Leads pulled endless all-nighters over the next few months so that they could skill up for the exam and support each other through the arduous study process. They also worked with Elyes Manai, a ML Google Developer Expert, who gave them an overview of the exam and recommended resources that would help them pass.

Thanks to those resources, support from her peers, and tons of hard work, Yara passed the exam and received her TensorFlow certification! And she wasn’t the only one. 11 other MENA GDSC Leads also passed the exam to receive their certifications. Yara and her study partners were the first women in Egypt to be featured in the TensorFlow Certificate Network, and Yara became one of 27 people in Africa to receive the TensorFlow Developer Certificate!

Image of Yara Elkady's TensorFlow Developer Certificate

Yara’s TensorFlow Developer Certificate

When Yara looks back at how she was able to fast track from beginner to certified machine learning developer in just a year, she credits Google Developer Student Clubs with:

  • Offering advanced Machine Learning training
  • Fostering connections with other Leads to host study jams
  • Providing guidance from machine learning GDEs
  • TensorFlow certification exam prep
  • Exposure to opportunities that enabled her to inspire others
  • Endless community support

The truth is, students like Yara make Google Developer Student Clubs special by sharing their knowledge with the community and building a support system with their peers that extends far beyond the classroom.

On the importance of community, Yara says it best:

“Reaching your goals is a much more enjoyable process when you have someone with you on the same journey, to share your ups and downs, and push you to do more when you feel like quitting. Your success becomes their success and that gives more meaning to your accomplishments.”

If you’re a student who is ready to join your own Google Developer Student Club community, find one near you here.

Google Developer Student Club 2021 Lead applications are open!

Posted by Erica Hanson, Global Program Manager, Google Developer Student Clubs

Hey, student developers! If you’re passionate about programming and are ready to use your technology skills to help your community, then you should become a Google Developer Student Clubs Lead!

Application forms for the upcoming 2021-2022 academic year are NOW OPEN. Get started at

Want to know more? Learn more about the program below.

What are Google Developer Student Clubs?

Google Developer Student Clubs are university based community groups for students interested in Google developer technologies. With clubs hosted in 106 countries around the world, students from undergraduate and graduate programs with an interest in leading a community are welcome. Together, students learn the latest in Android App Development, Google Cloud Platform, Flutter, and so much more.

By joining a GDSC, students grow their knowledge in a peer-to-peer learning environment and put theory to practice by building solutions for local businesses and their community.

How will I improve my skills?

As a Google Developer Student Club Lead you will have the chance to…

  • Gain mentorship from Google.
  • Join a global community of leaders.
  • Practice by sharing your skills.
  • Help students grow.
  • Build solutions for real life problems.

How can I find a Google Developer Student Club near me?

Google Developer Student Clubs are now in 106 countries with 1250+ groups. Find a club near you or learn how to start your own, here.

When do I need to submit the Application form?

We encourage students to submit their forms as soon as possible. You can learn more about your region’s application deadline, here. Make sure to learn more about our program criteria.

Get Started

From working to solve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to helping local communities make informed voting decisions, Google Developer Student Club leads are learning valuable coding skills while making a true difference. As a lead from a Club in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia put it,

“The secret to our club’s success was that we were able to cultivate a heart of service and a culture of open mentorship.”

We can’t wait to see what our next group of Google Developer Student Club leads will accomplish this year. Join the fun and get started, here.

*Google Developer Student Clubs are student-led independent organizations, and their presence does not indicate a relationship between Google and the students’ universities.

Local students team up to help small businesses go online

Posted by Erica Hanson, Global Program Manager, Google Developer Student Clubs

Recently young developers in Saudi Arabia from Google Developer Student Clubs, a program of university based community groups for students interested in Google technologies, came together to help local small businesses. As more companies across the globe rely on online sales, these students noticed that many of their favorite local stores did not have a presence on the web.

So to help these local shops compete, these up-and-coming developers went into the community and began running workshops to teach local store owners the basics of building a website. Inspired by Google’s fundamentals of digital marketing course, these learning sessions focused on giving small business owners basic front-end skills, while introducing them to easy to use coding tools.

Front-end skills for small business owners

Image of Chrome Devtools

The first goal of these student-run workshops was to teach local store owners the basics of building web interfaces. In particular, they focused on websites that made it easy for customers to make purchases. To do this, the students first taught store owners the basics of HTML, CSS, and JS code. Then, they showed them how to deploy Chrome DevTools, a collection of web developer tools built directly into the Google Chrome browser that allows programmers to inspect and edit HTML, CSS, and JS code to optimize user experience.

Next, the students challenged participants to put their knowledge to use by creating demos of their businesses’ new websites. The young developers again used Chrome DevTools to highlight the best practices for testing the demo sites on different devices and screen sizes.

Introduction to coding toolkits

Image of demo created and maintained in workshop.

With the basics of HTML, CSS, JS code, and Chrome DevTools covered, the students also wanted to give the store owners tools to help maintain their new websites. To do this, they introduced the small businesses to three toolkits:

  1. Bootstrap, to help templatize future workflow for the websites.
  2. Codepen, to make testing new features and aspects of the websites easier.
  3. Figma, to assist in the development of initial mockups.

With these basic coding skills, access to intuitive toolkits, and completed website demos, the local businesses owners now had everything they needed to launch their sites to the public – all thanks to a few dedicated students.

Ready to join a Google Developer Student Club near you?

All over the world, students are coming together to learn programming and make a difference in their community as members of local Google Developer Student Clubs. Learn more on how to get involved in projects like this one, here.

Solve for the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals with Google technologies in this year’s Solution Challenge.

Posted by Erica Hanson, Global Program Manager, Google Developer Student Clubs

Solution Challenge image

Created by the United Nations in 2015 to be achieved by 2030, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agreed upon by all 193 United Nations Member States aim to end poverty, ensure prosperity, and protect the planet.

Last year brought many challenges, but it also brought a greater spirit around helping each other and giving back to our communities. With that in mind, we invite students around the world to join the Google Developer Student Clubs 2021 Solution Challenge!

If you’re new to the Solution Challenge, it is an annual competition that invites university students to develop solutions for real world problems using one or more Google products or platforms.

This year, see how you can use Android, TensorFlow, Google Cloud, Flutter, or any of your favorite Google technologies to promote employment for all, economic growth, and climate action, by building a solution for one or more of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

What winners of the Solution Challenge receive

Participants will receive specialized prizes at different stages:

  1. The Top 50 teams will receive mentorship from Google and other experts to further work on their projects.
  2. The Top 10 finalists will receive a 1-year subscription to Pluralsight, swag, additional customized mentoring from Google, and a feature in the Google Developers Blog and Demo Day live on YouTube.
  3. The 3 Grand Prize Winners will receive all the prizes included in the Top 10 category along with a Chromebook and a private team meeting with a Google executive.

How to get started on the Solution Challenge

There are four main steps to joining the Solution Challenge and getting started on your project:

  1. Register at and join a Google Developer Student Club at your college or university. If there is no club at your university, you can join the closest one through the event platform.
  2. Select one or more of the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals to solve for.
  3. Build a solution using Google technology.
  4. Create a demo and submit your project by March 31, 2021.

Resources from Google for Solution Challenge participants

Google will provide Solution Challenge participants with various resources to help students build strong projects for their contest submission.

  • Live online sessions with Q&As
  • Mentorship from Google, Google Developer Experts, and the Developer Student Club community
  • Curated codelabs designed by Google Developers
  • Access to Design Sprint guidelines developed by Google Ventures
  • and more!

When are winners announced?

Once all the projects are submitted after the March 31st deadline, judges will evaluate and score each submission from around the world using the criteria listed on the website. From there, winning solutions will be announced in three rounds.

Round 1 (May): The Top 50 teams will be announced.

Round 2 (July): After the top 50 teams submit their new and improved solutions, 10 finalists will be announced.

Round 3 (August): In the finale, the top 3 grand prize winners will be announced live on YouTube during the 2021 Solution Challenge Demo Day.

With a passion for building a better world, savvy coding skills, and a little help from Google, we can’t wait to see the solutions students create.

Learn more and sign up for the 2021 Solution Challenge, here.

Passionate former DSC lead Irene inspires others to learn Google technologies with her new podcast and more

Posted by Erica Hanson, Global Program Manager, Google Developer Student Clubs

(Irene (left) and her DSC team from the Polytechnic University of Cartagena (photo prior to COVID-19)

Irene Ruiz Pozo is a former Google Developer Student Club (DSC) Lead at the Polytechnic University of Cartagena in Murcia, Spain. As one of the founding members, Irene has seen the club grow from just a few student developers at her university to hosting multiple learning events across Spain. Recently, we spoke with Irene to understand more about the unique ways in which her team helped local university students learn more about Google technologies.

Real world ML and AR learning opportunities

Irene mentioned two fascinating projects that she had the chance to work on through her DSC at the Polytechnic University of Cartagena. The first was a learning lab that helped students understand how to use 360º cameras and 3D scanners for machine learning.

(A DSC member giving a demo of a 360º camera to students at the National Museum of Underwater Archeology in Cartagena)

The second was a partnership with the National Museum of Underwater Archeology, where Irene and her team created an augmented reality game that let students explore a digital rendition of the museum’s exhibitions.

(An image from the augmented reality game created for the National Museum of Underwater Archeology)

In the above AR experience created by Irene’s team, users can create their own character and move throughout the museum and explore different virtual renditions of exhibits in a video game-like setting.

Hash Code competition and experiencing the Google work culture

One particularly memorable experience for Irene and her DSC was participating in Google’s annual programming competition, Hash Code. As Irene explained, the event allowed developers to share their skills and connect in small teams of two to four programmers. They would then come together to tackle engineering problems like how to best design the layout of a Google data center, create the perfect video streaming experience on YouTube, or establish the best practices for compiling code at Google scale.

(Students working on the Hash Code competition (photo taken prior to COVID-19)

To Irene, the experience felt like a live look at being a software engineer at Google. The event taught her and her DSC team that while programming skills are important, communication and collaboration skills are what really help solve problems. For Irene, the experience truly bridged the gap between theory and practice.

Expanding knowledge with a podcast for student developers

(Irene’s team working with other student developers (photo taken before COVID-19)

After the event, Irene felt that if a true mentorship network was established among other DSCs in Europe, students would feel more comfortable partnering with one another to talk about common problems they faced. Inspired, she began to build out her mentorship program which included a podcast where student developers could collaborate on projects together.

The podcast, which just released its second episode, also highlights upcoming opportunities for students. In the most recent episode, Irene and friends dive into how to apply for Google Summer of Code Scholarships and talk about other upcoming open source project opportunities. Organizing these types of learning experiences for the community was one of the most fulfilling parts of working as a DSC Lead, according to Irene. She explained that the podcast has been an exciting space that allows her and other students to get more experience presenting ideas to an audience. Through this podcast, Irene has already seen many new DSC members eager to join the conversation and collaborate on new ideas.

As Irene now looks out on her future, she is excited for all the learning and career development that awaits her from the entire Google Developer community. Having graduated from university, Irene is now a Google Developer Groups (GDG) Lead – a program similar to DSC, but created for the professional developer community. In this role, she is excited to learn new skills and make professional connections that will help her start her career.

Are you also a student with a passion for code? Then join a local Google Developer Student Club near you, here.

Meet the global students solving local problems with code

Posted by Erica Hanson, Developer Student Clubs Program Manager, Google

Google Developer Student Clubs (DSC) are university based community groups for students who are interested in Google’s developer technologies. Each year, Google puts a call out to the entire DSC global community, asking students to answer one simple question: Can you solve a local problem in your community by building with Google’s technologies?

This event is known as the DSC Solution Challenge and this year’s winners went above and beyond to answer the call – so much so that we couldn’t just pick one winner, we chose 10.

While we initially thought we were the ones sending out the challenge, these young developers instead flipped the script back on us. Through their innovative designs and uncompromised creative spirit, they’ve pushed our team here at Google to stretch our thinking about how developers can build a more hopeful future.

With this, we’re welcoming these passionate students and anyone interested to the virtual Solution Challenge Demo Day on August 26th, where the students will present their winning ideas in detail.

Ahead of the event, learn more about this incredible group of thinkers and their solutions below.

1. FreeSpeak – Technical University of Munich, Germany

Maria Pospelova, Wei Wen Qing, and Almo Gunadya Sutedjo developed FreeSpeak, a software that uses modern machine learning and video/audio analyzing tools by leveraging TensorFlow and Google Cloud’s Natural Language to analyze presentations and give individual feedback and tips as a “virtual coach.”

“We’ve loved connecting with talented people from around the world and exchanging ideas with them. We see that we can provide impact not only to our local neighborhood, but also around the world and help people. This motivates us to work a lot harder.”

2. CoronaAI – University of California Berkeley, United States

Anushka Purohit, Anupam Tiwari, and Neel Desai created CoronaAI, a TensorFlow based technology that helps examine COVID-19 data. Specifically, the device is made up of a band worn around a patient’s chest that uses electrodes to extract real-time images of the lungs. From here, the band connects to a monitor that allows doctors to examine patients in real time without being near them.

“We’re honestly huge fans of the Google Cloud Platform because of its simplicity, familiarity, and the large number of resources available. Developing this project was the best learning experience.”

3. Worthy Walk – National University of Computer & Emerging Sciences, Pakistan

Syed Moazzam Maqsood, Krinza Momin, Muhammad Ahmed Gul, and Hussain Zuhair built Worthy Walk: an Android and iOS app that provides its users a platform to achieve health goals by walking, running, or cycling. To encourage users, Worthy Walk provides an inbuilt currency called Knubs that can be redeemed as discounts from local businesses, shops, and startups.

“Being a part of DSC means friendship – sharing knowledge and resources – all while developing a social infrastructure that gives people the power to build a global community that works for all of us.”

4. Simhae : Deep sea of mind – Soonchunhyang University, South Korea

Yuna Kim, Young hoon Jo, Jeong yoon Joo, and Sangbeom Hwang created Simhae, a platform created with Flutter and Google Cloud that allows users to access basic information and activities to inspire them to attend self-help gatherings run by suicide prevention centers. They believe that this experience is an important point that can lead to solidarity of suicide survivors.

“It’s so nice to have a chance to meet more diverse people. Through these communities, I can make up for my shortcomings and share more information with those who have different experiences than me – all while developing my own potential.”

5. Emergency Response Assistance – University of Education, Winneba (College of Technology Kumasi), Ghana

Elvis Antwi Sarfo, Yaw Barnieh Anane, Ampomah Ata Acheampong Prince, and Perditha Abena Acheampong constructed Emergency Response Assistance, an Android application to help health authorities post the latest first aid steps to educate the public and also help the victims report emergency cases with a click of a button. The Emergency Response team will also be able to track the exact location of the victims on the map.

“DSC is not just a community, it’s an inspiration. It’s outstanding how the platform has brought all of these students, lecturers, and teaching assistants, who are all so passionate about using tech to solve problems, together.”

6. Tulibot – Politeknik Elektronika Negeri Surabaya, Indonesia

Muhammad Alan Nur, Pravasta Caraka Bramastagiri, Eva Rahmadanti, and Namira Rizqi Annisa created Tulibot: an integrated assistive technology, built with the Google Speech API, that’s made to bridge communication between deaf people and society. The group made two main devices, Smart Glasses and Smart Gloves. Smart Glasses help with communication for the hearing impaired by showing real time answers directly on the glasses from its interlocutors. Smart Gloves transcribe gesture input into audio output by implementing gesture to text technology.

“This has been an amazing opportunity for us because with this challenge, we can learn many things like coding, management, business, and more. The special materials we can get directly from Google is so helpful.”

7. Picare – The Hong Kong University of Science & Technology, Hong Kong

Sze Yuk Yin, Kwok Ue Nam, Ng Chi Ting, Chong Cheuk Hei, and Silver Ng developed Picare, a healthcare matching platform built with Flutter and Google Machine Learning to help elderly people in Hong Kong. Users will be able to use the app to research, schedule, and pay caregivers directly through the app.

“Our community hosted several workshops ranging from design thinking to coding techniques. This boosted our development by introducing us to various state-of-the-art technologies, such as Machine Learning and Cloud computing, which helped us reach our development goals.”

8. Shareapy – Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology, Vietnam

Vo Ngoc Khanh Linh, Tran Lam Bao Khang, Nguyen Dang Huy, and Nguyen Thanh Nhan built Shareapy: a digitized support group app created with Android that helps bring people together who share similar problems regardless of their age, gender, religion, financial status, etc. After conducting an extremely rigorous user testing phase, this team had the chance to see all that TensorFlow and Firebase could do.

“My team loves Firebase so much. One of our team members now uses it to help do some of his homework problems.”

9. Capstone – Midlands State University, Zimbabwe

Victor Chinyavada, Marvellous Humphery Chirunga, and Lavender Zandile Tshuma started Capstone, a service hosted on the Google Cloud Platform that aims to combat plagiarism among students, authors, and researchers. In particular, the technology aims to develop more effective algorithms that will incorporate the latest in big data, artificial intelligence, and data mining. As a team, the group bonded over applying technologies from Google to their project, but their real takeaway was working together to solve problems.

“To submit our project on time, we started all night hackathons, which helped us finish all of our work while having fun and getting to know each other better.”

10. MiCamp – Dr. B.R. Ambedkar National Institute of Technology, India

Praveen Agrawal built MiCamp, an Android app that holds all the info students from his campus need. Features include a calendar with upcoming campus events, student profiles, a used book marketplace, hostel management, online food ordering, and more. As a team of one, Praveen needed to speed up his development, so he applied his new knowledge of Flutter to finish.

“I’d heard of technologies like Flutter, but never used them until joining DSC; they inspired us to use those technologies, which really improved my solution.”


Want to learn more about Developer Student Clubs? Join a club near you, here and stay tuned for our upcoming virtual Solution Challenge Demo Day on August 26th, here.

3 ways local developer communities are staying connected virtually

Posted by JP Loughran, Google Developers

As the world continues to embrace remote opportunities, Google Developer Group (GDG) and Developer Student Club (DSC) communities have been working hard to support each other virtually – complete with online technical education and remote spaces to build local community connections. In particular, community groups in Sweden, Singapore, and throughout MENA have been creating resources to help developers find online employment, education, and engagement opportunities. Curious to find out more? Keep reading below.

1. Employment – Sweden

Community members from Google Developer Group West Sweden recently rolled up their sleeves to do what they do best: hack. From April 6th – 8th, the community worked with the Swedish Government to create “Hack the Crisis,” a virtual community event focused on designing, testing, and executing ideas in response to recent challenges.

The event included several project pitches and a group of judges to select winning proposals. One of the finalists, Remote + Gigs on Platsbanken, developed a plan to modernize the Swedish Government’s employment website in an effort to save business.

Specifically, the idea suggests updating the website’s interface so that job seekers can be easily matched with compatible remote work based on their preferences. A creative way to safely bring work to both people and businesses in need.

2. Education – Singapore

(On the left is the Singapore University of Technology and Design. On the right is a virtual model of the campus.)

Recently, a Google Developer Student Club at the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) built a virtual model of their college to host tours that were canceled in person. Specifically, the team of 40+ student developers came together to construct the model on Minecraft, creating an experience that allows visitors to freely and interactively explore the campus – just like they would in person.

The team also used their knowledge of DialogFlow to build a tour guide chatbot that answers questions from the virtual visitors.

The university has loved the virtual campus. On the first day it opened, roughly 200 visitors joined tours and over 1,000 users came to interact with the site.

3. Engagement – Middle East & North Africa

Recently, 200+ developer communities, 100 local experts, and 10+ Google Developer Experts have come together to host MENA Digital Days – a 32 week series of live video workshops providing various training on everything from working from home to leadership to coding.

The series, which started at the end of March and will continue until the end of October, engages viewers with its live workshop style format and is published on a daily and weekly basis. With a unique theme each week, the series aims to provide learning opportunities for developers, women, students, and startups.

With such a broad range of participants from all over the world, MENA Digital Days is currently taking place in three languages: Arabic, French, and English. Catch up any time on past videos on the YouTube playlist or join a live workshop to get involved.

Community matters more than ever, so it’s impressive to see so many groups adapt so quickly to being digital-first. If you’re inspired by these stories, learn more about local developer communities hosting virtual events near you here.

Become a Developer Student Club Lead

Posted by Erica Hanson, Global Program Lead, Developer Student Clubs

Calling all student developers: If you’re someone who wants to lead, is passionate about technology, loves problem-solving, and is driven to give back to your community, then Developer Student Clubs has a home for you. Interest forms for the upcoming 2020-2021 academic year are now available. Ready to dive in? Get started at

Want to know more? Check out these details below.

Image description: People holding up Developer Students Club sign

What are Developer Student Clubs?

Developer Student Clubs (DSC) are university based community groups for students interested in Google developer technologies. With programs that meet in person and online, students from all undergraduate and graduate programs with an interest in growing as a developer are welcome. By joining a DSC, students grow their knowledge in a peer-to-peer learning environment and build solutions for local businesses and their community.

Why should I join?

– Grow your skills as a developer with training content from Google.

– Think of your own project, then lead a team of your peers to scale it.

– Build prototypes and solutions for local problems.

– Participate in a global developer competition.

– Receive access to select Google events and conferences.

– Gain valuable experience

Is there a Developer Student Club near me?

Developer Student Clubs are now in 68+ countries with 860+ groups. Find a club near you or learn how to start your own, here.

When do I need to submit the interest form?

You may express interest through the form until May 15th, 11:59pm PST. Get started here.

Make sure to learn more about our program criteria.

Our DSC Leads are working on meaningful projects around the world. Watch this video of how one lead worked to protect her community from dangerous floods in Indonesia. Similarly, read this story of how another lead helped modernize healthcare in Uganda.

We’re looking forward to welcoming a new group of leads to Developer Student Clubs. Have a friend who you think is a good fit? Pass this article along. Wishing all developer students the best on the path towards building great products and community.

Submit interest form here.

*Developer Student Clubs are student-led independent organizations, and their presence does not indicate a relationship between Google and the students’ universities.

Developer Student Clubs: A Walk That Changed Healthcare

Posted by Erica Hanson, Program Manager

ARUA, UGANDA – Samuel Mugisha is a 23 year old university student with a laugh that echoes off every wall and a mind determined to make change. Recently he heard from a healthcare worker that many children at a local clinic were missing vaccinations, so he decided to take a walk. He toured his community, neighbor to neighbor, and asked one simple question: “Can I see your vaccination card?”

In response he was given dirt stained, wrinkled, torn pieces of paper, holding life or death information – all written in scribble.

He squinted, held the cards to the light, rubbed them on his pant leg, but for no use. They were impossible to read. As Samuel put it, “They were broken.”

From the few cards he could read, Samuel noted children who had missed several vaccinations – they were unknowingly playing the odds, waiting to see if disease would find them.

“Looking through the cards, you could tell these kids had missed several vaccinations.”

Without hesitation, Samuel got right to work, determined to fix the healthcare system with technology.

He first brought together his closest friends from Developer Student Clubs (DSC), a program supporting students impacting their communities through tech. He asked them: “Why can’t technology solve our problem?”

Team photo of Developer Student Club

This newly formed team, including Samuel, Joshwa Benkya and Norman Acidri, came up with a twofold plan:

  1. Create a mobile app to replace the broken cards, so healthcare workers can clearly track which vaccines their young patients have received.
  2. Create a notification to alert healthcare workers when a child is due for a new vaccination.

The idea came together right as Developer Student Clubs launched its first Solution Challenge, an open call for all members to submit projects they recently imagined. These young developers had to give it a shot. They created a model, filled out an application, and pitched the idea. After waiting a month, they heard back – their team won the competition! Their idea was selected from a pool of 170 applicants across India, Africa, and Indonesia. In other words, everything was about to change.

In a country where talent can go unnoticed and problems often go unsolved, this new team had pushed through the odds. Developer Student Clubs is a platform for these types of bold thinkers. Students who view the issues of their region not simply as obstacles to overcome, but chances to mend their home, build a better life for themselves, and transform the experiences of their people.

The goal of the Solution Challenge, and all other DSC programs, is to educate young developers early and equip them with the right skills to make an impact in their community.

In this case, office space in Uganda was expensive and hard to find. Samuel’s team previously had few chances to all work under the same roof. After winning the challenge, Developer Student Clubs helped them find a physical space of their own to come together and collaborate – a simple tool, but one that led to a turning point. As Samuel described it,

“Developer Student Clubs helped us not be alone and apart from each other while trying to solve this problem. They gave us the space to come together and learn. We could all be in the same room, thinking together.”

Image of developers in classroom

With this new space to work, DSC then brought some of Africa’s best Google Developer Group Leads directly to the young developers. In these meetings, the students were given high-level insights on how to best leverage Android, Firebase, and Presto to propel their product forward. As Samuel put it:

“If we wanted to learn something, they gave us the best expert.”

As a result, the team realized that with the scarcity of internet in Uganda, Firebase was the perfect technology to build with – allowing healthcare workers to use the app offline but “check in” and receive updates when they were able to find internet.

Although the app has made impressive strides since winning the competition, this young team knows they can make it even better. They want to improve its usability by implementing more visuals and are working to create a version for parents, so families can track the status of their child’s vaccination on their own.

While there is plenty of work ahead, with these gifted students and Developer Student Clubs taking each step forward together, any challenge seems solvable.

What has the team been up to recently? From August 5th-9th they attended the Startup Africa Roadtrip, an intensive training week on how best to refine a startup business model.