Experts.Anyone.Anywhere

Posted by Janelle Kuhlman, Developer Relations Program Manager

Click above to meet our community of Experts

The Google Developer Experts program is a global network of highly experienced technology experts, developers and thought leaders. GDEs share their expertise with other developers and tech communities through a variety of ways such as speaking engagements, mentorship and content writing. The community has access to an exclusive network of experts that span across different Google technologies including Android, Cloud, Machine Learning and more.

Get to know our diverse community and subscribe to the Google Developers YouTube Channel to stay informed on the latest updates across our products and platforms!

Celebrating leaders in AAPI communities

Posted by Google Developer Studio

In recognition of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Heritage Month, we are speaking with mentors and leaders in tech and who identify as part of the AAPI community. Many of the influential figures we feature are involved with and help champion inclusivity programs like Google Developer Experts and Google Developer Student Clubs, while others work on leading in product areas like TensorFlow and drive impact through their line of work and communities.

On that note, we are honoring this year’s theme of “Advancing Leaders Through Collaboration” by learning more about the power of mentorship, advice they’ve received from other leaders, and their biggest accomplishments.

Read more about leads in the AAPI community below.

Ben Hong

Senior Staff Developer Experience Engineer at Netlify

What’s the best piece of advice you can offer new/junior developers looking to grow into leadership roles?

There is a lot of advice out there on how to get the most out of your career by climbing the ladder and getting leadership roles. Before you embark on that journey, first ask yourself the question “Why do I want this?”

Becoming a leader comes with a lot of glitz and glamor, but the reality is that it carries a huge weight of responsibility because the decisions and actions you take as a leader will impact the lives of those around you in significant ways you can’t foresee.

As a result, the key to becoming the best leader you can be is to:

  1. Establish what your values and principles are
  2. Align them to the actions you take each and every day

Because at the end of the day, leaders are often faced with difficult decisions that lead to an uncertain future. And without core values and principles to guide you as an individual, you run the risk of being easily swayed by short term trade offs that could result in a long term loss.

This world needs leaders who can stand their ground against the temptations of short-term wins and make the best decisions they can while fighting for those that follow them. If you stand firm in your values and listen to those around you, you’ll be able to create profound impact in your community.

Taha Bouhsine

Data Scientist and GDSCUIZ Lead

What’s the best piece of advice you can offer new/junior developers looking to grow into leadership roles?

Create a journey worth taking. You will face many challenges and a new set of problems. You will start asking a lot of questions as everything seems to be unfamiliar.

Things get much lighter if you are guided by a mentor, as you will get guidance on how to act in this new chapter of life. In your early days, invest as much as you can in building and nurturing a team, as it will save you a lot of time along the road. Surround yourself with real people who take the initiative, get to the action, and are willing to grow and learn, nurture their skills and guide them towards your common goal. Don’t try to be a people pleaser as it’s an impossible mission.

Your actions will offend some people one way or the other. That’s ok as you should believe in your mission, create a clear plan with well-defined tasks and milestones, and be firm with your decision. In the end, responsibility is yours to bear, so at least take it on something you decided, not something that was forced upon you by others.

Finally, when there is fire, look for ways to put it out. Take care of your soul, and enjoy the journey!

Huyen Tue Dao

Android Developer, Trello

What do you love most about being a part of the developer community?

It has been the most rewarding and critical part of my career to meet other developers, learning and sharing knowledge and getting to know them as human beings.

Development is a job of constant learning, whether it is the latest technology, trends, issues, and challenges or the day-to-day intricacies and nuances of writing specialized code and solving problems in efficient and elegant ways. I don’t think I’d have the tools to solve issues large and small without the sharing of knowledge and experience of the developer community. If you’re having a problem of any kind, chances are that someone has had the same challenges. You can take comfort that you can probably find the answer or at least find people that can help you. You can also feel confident that if you discovered something new or learned important lessons, someone will want to hear what you have to say.

I love seeing and being part of this cycle and interchange; as we pool our experience, our knowledge, and insights, we become stronger and more skilled as a community. I would not be the engineer or person that I am without the opportunities of this exchange.

Just as important, though, is the camaraderie and support of those who do what I do and love it. I have been so fortunate to have been in communities that have been open and welcoming, ready to make connections and form networks, eager to celebrate victories and commiserate with challenges. Regardless of the technical and personal challenges of the everyday that may get to me, there are people that understand and can support me and provide brilliantly diverse perspectives of different industries, countries, cultures, and ages.

Malak Magdy Ali

Google Developer Student Club Lead at Canadian International College, Egypt

What’s the best piece of advice you can offer new/junior developers looking to grow into leadership roles?

The best piece of advice I can give to new leaders is to have empathy. Having empathy will make you understand people’s actions and respect their feelings. This will make for stronger teams.

Also, give others a space to lead. Involve your team in making decisions; they come up with great ideas that can help you and teammates learn from each other. In this process, trust is also built, resulting in a better quality product.

Finally, don’t underestimate yourself. Do your best and involve your team to discuss the overall quality of your work and let them make recommendations.

Celebrating global women in tech and trailblazers

Posted by Google Developer Studio

In honor of Women’s History Month, we are featuring tech trailblazers who have made significant contributions to developer communities close to Google and beyond. Many of the women we spoke to work directly with some of our educational outreach and inclusivity programs like Google Developer Experts and Women Techmakers, while others are Google Developer Student Clubs participants or Googlers who do incredible work around the globe.

They all share a passion for making the developer community more accessible and inclusive for generations of women to come. Read about them below to learn more about these individuals whose drive contributes to a better workplace and world.

We’re proud to celebrate #WHM22 with them.

Google Developer Experts

Laura Morillo-Velarde Rodríguez

Guest’s location: Zaragoza, Spain

Tell us more about your role.

I work as a Tech Lead at Seedtag, a contextual advertising company, where I help build an amazing tech team to go through all the technical challenges that we have to face. Besides that, I’m also a Women Techmakers Ambassador and Cloud Google Developer Expert.

Is there a project you’ve worked on recently that you’re excited to share?

During the pandemic I started recording podcasts (in Spanish) with some friends (GDG Spain Podcast, Cloud Español) and one of those is Tech & Ladies Podcast. Every two weeks Cristina Pampín, Silvia García and I talk with other women in tech about their careers, different technologies or other topics related to the tech space.

What makes you passionate about being in the tech space?

I’m passionate about the tech space because you always have something new to learn. I think that this can be a bit overwhelming sometimes, as you need to find the time and it usually involves a lot of self-study, but it also prevents our work from becoming boring.

What is the biggest piece of advice you would offer professionals starting in the tech space?

I would recommend them to make the most of the technical communities that we have. There, you can learn a lot, meet amazing people and contribute to the growth of others with your knowledge and experience.

Luz Maria Maida Claude

Guest’s Location: Ingelheim, Germany

Tell us more about your role.

I’ve been a Software Engineer for the last 7 years. Right now, I’m working at BIX that is the Digital Lab of Boehringer Ingelheim. Although my job description is “Frontend Engineer,” the reality is that every day I have different challenges that involve a great diversity of technologies and tools.

Is there a project you’ve worked on recently that you’re excited to share?

With my team I created some prototypes using hardware oriented to the healthcare systems. In my free time I’m creating a project to collect funds for stray animals.

What makes you passionate about being in the tech space?

Technology gives us the power to turn our ideas into reality, but many of the things that are in our lives today are there because we share our knowledge with others. Thanks to many communities and groups we have more opportunities to improve our environments and grow step by step, something that is important in this time where we need to create changes.

What is the biggest piece of advice you would offer professionals starting in the tech space?

Be curious, trust in yourself and enjoy the journey. It is important to understand that every day counts to reach the objectives that we have. We’ll never have all the knowledge, but your current version knows something more than yesterday and the last week. Don’t stop and continue growing.

Google’s Coding Competitions

Chu-Ling Ko

Guest’s Location: Palo Alto, California

Tell us more about your role

I am a software engineer at Google for Clinicians of Google Health. Also, I am a volunteer for Google’s Coding Competitions. We develop the coding competition problems for Kick Start, Code Jam, and Code Jam to I/O for Women!

Is there a project you’ve worked on recently that you’re excited to share?

Recently, a group of women volunteers including me are working together to develop the problem sets for Code Jam to I/O for Women 2022. We prepare input verifiers, test case generators, various solutions (and some fake ones), and solution articles. It is so exciting that we are all a part of this amazing event!

What makes you passionate about being in the tech space?

I am so passionate about this work because it is something that helps people. Google’s Coding Competition team produces plenty of high-quality problem sets every year, along with comprehensible, educational solution articles. We hope the participants can enjoy and learn new things from each of our coding competitions!

What is the biggest piece of advice you would offer professionals starting in the tech space?

Enjoy and take everything you are doing seriously, and appreciate the people you meet in the adventure!

Tatiyana Mishtal

Guest’s Location: Zurich, Switzerland

Tell us more about your role.

I’m a Senior Software Engineer at YouTube Content ID, also TL of our team. We are working on detection of copyright violations on YouTube. Due to the specifics of our product, we have a very intensive Quality focus – I spend a lot of time on data analysis and cross-team collaboration to improve automated decisions made. At the same time reliability requirements, new signals development and continuous improvements to YouTube infrastructure bring endless interesting engineering challenges as well.

Is there a project you’ve worked on recently that you’re excited to share?

In addition to my main project, I’m also part of the Hash Code team. For several years already we have organized this coding competition for developers of all levels from all around the world. And just a few weeks ago we held the 2022 Qualification Round, which was especially challenging for us. Not only did we need to prepare a hard and exciting problem for the competition as we do every year, but also we had migrated to the new Google Coding Competitions platform and it was our debut there. Thanks to ours and the Coding Competitions team’s joint effort everything went smoothly!

What makes you passionate about being in the tech space?

I really like making things work. I enjoy solving problems, overcoming challenges and in the end seeing how results impact people’s lives. I especially value personal time and it delights me that technology can both improve the quality of people’s lives and cut the “time cost” of many mundane things.

What is the biggest piece of advice you would offer professionals starting in the tech space?

Ask “why” instead of “how”. Why something works the way it does, why people came to particular ideas and why would one use the technology in a way they do. There are a lot of options of “how” for everything in tech, but you need to know “why” to take the most out of it.

Google Developer Groups

Michelle Mannering

Guest’s Location: Melbourne, Victoria

Tell us more about your role.

The GitHub DevRel team gets to do some of the most amazing things in the Developer Relations space. We showcase the products and services that GitHub has, but more importantly we highlight the awesome things our community is doing. Whether someone is a maintainer, an open source contributor, student, or developer working within a company, everyone has a unique and interesting experience. By showcasing these cool developers and projects we can show how people are building better things for the world.

Is there a project you’ve worked on recently that you’re excited to share?

We’re always doing such fun and awesome things at GitHub. One of the things I’ve been working on a lot is the Release Radar. It’s a monthly blog post that goes out showcasing awesome open source projects. We also have a video that goes out featuring some of the projects, talking about what they do, and how others can use them. It’s a really awesome way to get the word out about what developers are building. You can find out more on releaseradar.github.com

What makes you passionate about being in the tech space?

I really love talking to others and hearing about their journey and experience. The best thing about the tech space is listening to someone get really excited about the thing they are building and then showing it to as many people as possible. I’m always so blown away by what people can create. I’ve been in this boat a few times and when you’re learning or building something and you get it right, and it deploys and doesn’t break, it’s not just you that gets excited, but everyone around you!

What is the biggest piece of advice you would offer professionals starting in the tech space?

Don’t think that this is a space where you have to be a genius and know everything. Everyone, all developers, from the most junior to the most senior, still use Stack Overflow to find answers. Never think you are not enough, and on the flip side, never think that you know it all. You can always learn more. So my best advice is “no matter what your role or your experience, always be learning!”

Cassidy Williams

Guest’s Location: Chicago, Illinois

Tell us more about your role.

In short: I build open source and educational content to help people get jobs!

Is there a project you’ve worked on recently that you’re excited to share?

I’ve been working on my newsletter full of web news, practice interview questions, and jokes! It’s at cassidoo.co/newsletter and I’m about to hit my 5-year-anniversary writing it!

What makes you passionate about being in the tech space?

Tech is such a creative, logical, exciting field that can change peoples’ lives. I love helping people get jobs in tech to afford and build the lives and ideas they want to.

What is the biggest piece of advice you would offer professionals starting in the tech space?

Look for people who are where you want to be. Look at their paths, and see how you can try to mimic it. Make yourself available for people to mimic you. One of my favorite quotes is to “lift as you climb”! If you help others as you move forward in their careers as you move forward in yours, you’ll build a wonderful community of people around you, and make the tech community a better place!

Creating an app to help your community during the pandemic with Gaston Saillen #IamaGDE

Welcome to #IamaGDE – a series of spotlights presenting Google Developer Experts (GDEs) from across the globe. Discover their stories, passions, and highlights of their community work.

Gaston Saillen started coding for fun, making apps for his friends. About seven years ago, he began working full-time as an Android developer for startups. He built a bunch of apps—and then someone gave him an idea for an app that has had a broad social impact in his local community. Now, he is a senior Android developer at Distillery.

Meet Gaston Saillen, Google Developer Expert in Android and Firebase.

Photo of Gaston

Building the Uh-LaLa! app

After seven years of building apps for startups, Gaston visited a local food delivery truck to pick up dinner, and the server asked him, “Why don’t you do a food delivery app for the town, since you are an Android developer? We don’t have any food delivery apps here, but in the big city, there are tons of them.”

The food truck proprietor added that he was new in town and needed a tool to boost his sales. Gaston was up for the challenge and created a straightforward delivery app for local Cordoba restaurants he named Uh-Lala! Restaurants configure the app themselves, and there’s no app fee. “My plan was to deliver this service to this community and start making some progress on the technology that they use for delivery,” says Gaston. “And after that, a lot of other food delivery services started using the app.”

The base app is built similarly to food delivery apps for bigger companies. Gaston built it for Cordoba restaurants first, after several months of development, and it’s still the only food delivery app in town. When he released the app, it immediately got traction, with people placing orders. His friends joined, and the app expanded. “I’ve made a lot of apps as an Android engineer, but this is the first time I’ve made one that had such an impact on my community.”

He had to figure out how to deliver real-time notifications that food was ready for delivery. “That was a little tough at first, but then I got to know more about all the backend functions and everything, and that opened up a lot of new features.”

He also had to educate two groups of users: Restaurant owners need to know how to input their data into the app, and customers had to change their habit of using their phones for calls instead of apps.

Gaston says seeing people using the app is rewarding because he feels like he’s helping his community. “All of a sudden, nearby towns started using Uh-LaLa!, and I didn’t expect it to grow that big, and it helped those communities.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many restaurants struggled to maintain their sales numbers. A local pub owner ran a promotion through Instagram to use the Uh-Lala! App for ten percent off, and their sales returned to pre-COVID levels. “That is a success story. They were really happy about the app.”

image of person holding a phone and an image of an app on the phone

Becoming a GDE

Gaston has been a GDE for seven years. When he was working on his last startup, he found himself regularly answering questions about Android development and Firebase on StackOverflow and creating developer content in the form of blog posts and YouTube videos. When he learned about the GDE program, it seemed like a perfect way to continue to contribute his Android development knowledge to an even broader developer community. Once he was selected, he continued writing blog posts and making videos—and now, they reach a broader audience.

“I created a course on Udemy that I keep updated, and I’m still writing the blog posts,” he says. “We also started the GDG here in Cordoba, and we try to have a new talk every month.”

Gaston enjoys the GDE community and sharing his ideas about Firebase and Android with other developers. He and several fellow Firebase developers started a WhatsApp group to chat about Firebase. “I enjoy being a Google Developer Expert because I can meet members of the community that do the same things that I do. It’s a really nice way to keep improving my skills and meet other people who also contribute and make videos and blogs about what I love: Android.”

The Android platform provides developers with state-of-the art tools to build apps for user. Firebase allows developers to accelerate and scale app development without managing infrastructure; release apps and monitor their performance and stability; and boost engagement with analytics, A/B testing, and messaging campaigns.

photo of a webpage in another language

Future plans

Gaston looks forward to developing Uh-La-La further and building more apps, like a coworking space reservation app that would show users the hours and locations of nearby coworking spaces and allow them to reserve a space at a certain time. He is also busy as an Android developer with Distillery.

Photo of Gaston on a telelvision show

Gaston’s advice to future developers

“Keep moving forward. Any adversity that you will be having in your career will be part of your learning, so the more that you find problems and solve them, the more that you will learn and progress in your career.”

Learn more about the Experts Program → developers.google.com/community/experts

Watch more on YouTube → https://goo.gle/GDE

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Fostering an inclusive tech community with Evelyn Mendes #IamaGDE

Welcome to #IamaGDE – a series of spotlights presenting Google Developer Experts (GDEs) from across the globe. Discover their stories, passions, and highlights of their community work.

Evelyn Mendes, the first transgender Google Developer Expert, is based in Porto Alegre, Brazil, and has worked in technology since 2002. “I’ve always loved technology!” she exclaims, flashing a dazzling smile. As a transgender woman, Evelyn faced discrimination in the tech world in Brazil and relied on her friends for emotional support and even housing and food, as she fought for a job in technology. Her excruciating journey has made her a tireless advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), as she works toward her vision of a world of empathy, acceptance, and love.

Meet Evelyn Mendes, Google Developer Expert in Firebase

Image shows GDE Evelyn Mendes, smiling at the camera and holding an LGBTQ+ flag behind her

Current professional role

Evelyn works in systems analysis and development and currently focuses on Angular, Flutter, and Firebase. “I believe they are technologies with frame frameworks and architectures that have a lot to offer,” she says.

As an architecture consultant and specialist software engineer at Bemol Digital, Evelyn manages development teams that work with many different technologies and led Bimol Digital, through the process of switching their mobile app, originally developed in React Native, to Flutter. Now, Evelyn supports the migration of all Bimol Digital’s mobile development to Flutter. “Today, all of our new mobile projects are developed in Flutter,” she says. “I’m responsible for the architecture. I’m a PO and a Scrum Master, but I also enjoy teamwork, and I love helping the team work better, more efficiently, and most importantly, enjoy their work!”

Image shows GDE Evelyn Mendes, smiling at the camera and holding a mug with the Angular logo

DEI Advocacy

Evelyn’s kindness toward others is reflected in her advocacy for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the IT and tech world. She takes a broad approach to diversity, advocating for safe spaces in technology for mothers, women in technology, Black founders, immigrants, and Native Brazilians to learn. “Diversity and inclusion are not just values or attitudes to me; they are a part of who I am: my life, my struggles,” she says.

Evelyn views technology as a way to help underrepresented groups achieve more, feel empowered, and change their own lives. “Technology will give you a better shot to fight for a better life,” she says. “I want to bring more trans people to technology, so that they have real chances to continue evolving in their professional lives.”

Image shows GDE Evelyn Mendes, interviewing a group of people and holding a microphone. They are standing in front of a camera

When Evelyn came out as transgender, she experienced intolerance that kept her out of the workforce for over a year, despite her innumerable skills. “Brazil, especially the southern part where I’m from, is still, unfortunately, not a very tolerant society,” she says. “Due to who I was, I wasn’t able to find a job for over a year, because people didn’t want to work with someone who is transgender.”

Evelyn was fortunate enough to have friends who supported her financially (there were times when she didn’t even have enough money to buy food) and mentally, helping her believe she could be true to herself and find happiness. She encourages others in her position to seek financial and emotional independence. “In terms of your emotional wellbeing, I’d recommend starting with identifying the abusive relationships around you, which can come from different sides, even from your family,” she says. “Try distancing yourself from them and those who hurt you. This will help you in your evolution.”

Evelyn recommends trans people in Brazil connect with groups like EducaTransforma, which teaches technology to trans people, and TransEmpregos, which helps trans people to enter the labor market. For trans and cis women in Brazil, Aduaciosa Oficial facilitates networking (tech 101 for women, classic dev community, meetups workshops), and B2Mamy supports women’s entrepreneurship.

Image shows GDE Evelyn Mendes, smiling at the camera. A woman is sitting at a desk behind Evelyn. She is slightly smiling at the camera and has her fingers on the trackpad of a laptop

Evelyn often speaks to companies about diversity in IT and how to be welcoming to women, LGBTQIA+ people, and other underrepresented groups. “I like it because I see that more and more companies are interested in the subject, and I think I can be a voice that has never been heard,” Evelyn says. “I support inclusive events, and when invited, I participate in lectures, because I know that a trans woman, on a stage where only white, ‘straight,’ cis people are normally seen, makes a lot of difference for many people, especially LGBTs.”

At BrazilJS 2017, Evelyn invited every woman at the event to join her on stage for a photo, to show how many women are involved in technology and that women are integral to events. She called her fellow speakers and attendees, as well as the event’s caterers, cleaners, and security personnel to the stage and said, “Look at the stage. Now, no one can say there aren’t any women in tech.”

At her current company, Evelyn approaches diversity as a positive and transformative thing. “I know that I make a difference just with my presence, because people usually know my story.”

In addition to her technology work, Evelyn is involved in the Transdiálogos project, which aims to train professionals to end discrimination in health services. She is also part of TransEnem in Porto Alegre, an EJA-type prep course to help trans people go to college. “I don’t miss the chance to fight for diversity and inclusion anywhere,” Evelyn says. “That’s what my life is. This is my fight; that’s who I am; that’s why I’m here.”

Image shows GDE Evelyn Mendes pictured on the page of a magazine. She is smiling and holding her birth certificate

Learning Firebase

Evelyn said she was drawn to Firebase because “Firebase is all about diversity. For poor, remote areas in Brazil, without WiFi or broadband, Firebase gives people with limited resources a reasonable stack to build with and deploy something to the world. Firebase uses basic HTML, is low code, and is free, so it’s for everyone. Plus, it’s easy to get familiar with the technology, as opposed to learning Java or Android.”

To demonstrate all the functionality and features that Firebase offers, Evelyn created a mobile conversation application that she often shows at events. “Many people see Firebase as just a NoSql database,” she says. “They don’t know the real power that it can actually offer. With that in mind, I tried to put in it all the features I thought people could use: Authentication, Storage, Realtime Database with Data Denormalization, Hosting, Cloud Functions, Firebase Analytics, and Cloud Firestore.”

Image shows GDE Evelyn Mendes in a group of 4 people, two men and two women total. They are smiling and looking at the camera. All four wear lanyards for an event

Users can send images and messages through the app. A user can take a picture, resize, and send it, and it will be saved in Storage. Before going to the timeline, messages go through a sanitization process, where Evelyn removes certain words and indexes them on a list called bad_words in the Realtime Database. Timeline messages are also stored in Realtime. Users can like and comment on messages and talk privately. Sanitization is done by Cloud Functions, in database triggers, which also denormalizes messages in lists dedicated to each context. For example, all the messages a user sends, besides going to the main list that would be the timeline, go to a list of messages the user sent. Another denormalization is a list of messages that contain images and those that only contain text, for quick search within the Realtime Database. Users can also delete and edit messages. Using some rules Evelyn created in Cloud Firestore, she can manage what people will or will not see inside the app, in real time. Here’s the source code for the project. “I usually show it happening live and in color at events, with Firebase Analytics,” Evelyn says. “I also know where people are logging in, and I can show this working in the dashboard, also in real time.”

Becoming a GDE

When Evelyn first started learning Firebase, she also began creating educational content on how to use it, based on everything she was learning herself—first articles, then video tutorials. At first, she didn’t want to show her face in her videos because she was afraid she wasn’t good enough and felt embarrassed about every little silly mistake she made, but as she gained confidence, she started giving talks and lectures. Now, Evelyn maintains her own website and YouTube channel, where she saves all her video tutorials and other projects.

Image shows GDE Evelyn Mendes in a group of 4 people, one man and three women total. They are smiling and looking at the camera. Three of the four wear lanyards for the event they are attending

Her expertise caught the attention of Google’s Developer Relations team, who invited Evelyn to apply to be a GDE. “At first, I was scared to death, also because I didn’t speak any English,” Evelyn recalls. “It took me quite some time, but finally I took a leap of faith, and it worked! And today, #IamaGDE!”

As a GDE, Evelyn loves meeting people from around the world who share her passion for technology and appreciates the fact that her GDE expertise has allowed her to share her knowledge in remote areas. “The program has helped me to grow a lot, both personally and professionally,” she adds. “I learned a lot and continue learning, by attending many events, conferences, and meetups.”

Image shows GDE Evelyn Mendes standing in front of a classroom giving a lecture. Her Firebase slideshow is projected on a screen behind her

Evelyn’s advice to anyone hoping to become a GDE

“Be a GDE before officially becoming one! Participating in this program is a recognition of what you have already been doing: your knowledge, expertise, and accomplishments, so keep learning, keep growing, and help your community. You may think you’re not a big enough expert, but the truth is, there are people out there who definitely know less than you and would benefit from your knowledge.”

Image shows GDE Evelyn Mendes smiling at the camera and standing next to a large Google logo on the wall beside her

Using Machine Learning for COVID-19 helpline with Krupal Modi #IamaGDE

Welcome to #IamaGDE – a series of spotlights presenting Google Developer Experts (GDEs) from across the globe. Discover their stories, passions, and highlights of their community work.

In college, Krupal Modi programmed a robot to catch a ball based on the ball’s color, and he enjoyed it enough that he became a developer. Now, he leads machine learning initiatives at Haptik, a conversational AI platform. He is a Google Developer Expert in Machine Learning and recently built the MyGov Corona Helpdesk module for the Indian government, to help Indians around the country schedule COVID-19 vaccinations. He lives in Gujarat, India.

Meet Krupal Modi, Google Developer Expert in Machine Learning.

Image shows Krupal Modi, machine learning Google Developer Expert

GDE Krupal Modi

The early days

Krupal Modi didn’t set out to become a developer, but when he did some projects in college related to pattern recognition, in which he built and programmed a robot to catch a ball based on the color of the ball, he got hooked.

“Then, it just happened organically that I liked those problems and became a developer,” he says.

Now, he has been a developer for ten years and is proficient in Natural Language Processing, Image Processing, and unstructured data analysis, using conventional machine learning and deep learning algorithms. He leads machine learning initiatives at Haptik, a conversational AI platform where developers can program virtual AI assistants and chat bots.

“I have been there almost seven years now,” he says. “I like that most of my time goes into solving some of the open problems in the state of natural language and design.”

Image shows Krupal on stage holding a microphone giving a presentation on NLP for Chatbots

Machine learning

Krupal has been doing machine learning for nine years, and says advances in Hardware, especially in the past eight years, have made machine learning much more accessible to a wider range of developers. “We’ve come very far with so many advances in hardware,” he says. “I was fortunate enough to have a great community around me.”

Krupal is currently invested in solving the open problems of language understanding.

“Today, nobody really prefers talking with a bot or a virtual assistant,” he says. “Given a choice, you’d rather communicate with a human at a particular business.”

Krupal aims to take language understanding to a new level, where people might prefer to talk to an AI, rather than a human. To do that, his team needs to get technology to the point where it becomes a preferred and faster mode of communication.

Ultimately, Krupal’s dream is to make sure whatever technology he builds can impact some of the fundamental aspects of human life, like health care, education, and digital well being.

“These are a few places where there’s a long way to go, and where the technology I work on could create an impact,” he says. “That would be a dream come true for me.”

Image shows Krupal on stage standing behind a podium. Behind him on the wall are the words Google Developers Machine Learning Bootcamp

COVID in India/Government Corona Help Desk Module

One way Krupal has aimed to use technology to impact health care is in the creation of the MyGov Corona Helpdesk module in India, a WhatsApp bot authorized by the Indian government to combat the spread of COVID-19 misinformation. Indian citizens could text MyGov Corona Helpdesk to get instant information on symptoms, how to seek treatment, and to schedule a vaccine.

“There was a lot of incorrect information on various channels related to the symptoms of COVID and treatments for COVID,” he explains. “Starting this initiative was to have a reliable source of information to combat the spread of misinformation.”

To date, the app has responded to over 100 million queries. Over ten million people have downloaded their vaccination certificates using the app, and over one million people have used it to book vaccination appointments.

Watch this video of how it works.

Image is a graphic for MyGov Corona HelpDesk on WhatsApp. The graphic displays the phone number to contact

Becoming a GDE

As a GDE, Krupal focuses on Machine Learning and appreciates the network of self-motivated, passionate developers.

“That’s one of the things I admire the most about the program—the passionate, motivated people in the community,” Krupal says. “If you’re surrounded by such a great community, you take on and learn a lot from them.”

Advice to other developers

“If you are passionate about a specific technology; you find satisfaction in writing about it and sharing it with other developers across the globe; and you look forward to learning from them, then GDE is the right program for you.”

#IamaGDE: Katerina Skroumpelou (Athens, Greece)

The Google Developers Experts program is a global network of highly experienced technology experts, influencers, and thought leaders who actively support developers, companies, and tech communities by speaking at events and publishing content.

Katerina Skroumpelou, who is based in Athens, Greece, is a Senior Software Engineer at Narwhal Technologies, a consulting firm whose product Nx lets developers build multiple full-stack applications and share code among them in the same workspace. She is a Google Developer Expert in Maps and Angular.

Image shows  Katerina Skroumpelou looking straight ahead at the camera. She is seated behind a laptop with a red cover covered in stickers

Becoming a Google Maps Platform developer

Skroumpelou has always had a deep love of maps.

“My father used to have old maps books, and I’ve always been obsessed with knowing where I am and having an understanding of my surroundings, so I’ve always liked maps,” she says.

After learning to code in high school, Skroumpelou decided she wanted to be a programmer and spent a year studying computer engineering at the National Technical School of Athens, but she wasn’t excited about it, so she pursued a Master’s in architectural engineering there, instead. Then she earned her master’s degree in spatial analysis at University College London.

“They have a Center for Advanced Spatial Analysis–everything to do with maps, spatial data, and analysis, which combined my love of maps, space, and programming,” she says. “My master’s combined my passions, and I got into programming and maps–we created them with code.”

Skroumpelou returned to Greece after her master’s and took postgraduate courses at the National Technical School of Athens to get a more solid foundation in programming. She landed a job as a web developer at the National Centre for Scientific Research “Demokritos,” which works on European Union-funded security and safety research projects. Her first project was to build a system to help manage a fire department fleet.

“I had to work with maps and annotate on the map where a fire could break out, and how the fleet would be distributed to put it out, so I started working with Google Maps then,” she says. “For another research project on airport security, I imported information into a Google Map of the airport.”

She also learned Angular on the job. Skroumpelou moved on to several software engineering jobs after that and continued to work with Angular and build Google Maps projects in her spare time.

Getting involved in the developer community

Skroumpelou’s first foray into the Google developer community began when she was learning Angular for her job at the research center and watching conference talks on Angular online.

“I thought, hey, I can do that too, and I started thinking about how to get involved,” she says. “I reached out to the Angular Connect London conference, and my talk was accepted. It wasn’t strictly technical; it was “From Buildings to Software,” describing my journey from architectural engineering to software engineering.”

Since then, Skroumeplou has spoken at Google Developer Groups events, local meetups, and DevFest. She became a GDE in 2018 in Angular, Web Technologies, and Google Maps Platform and finds it incentivizes her to use Google tools for new projects.

“Apart from the feeling that you’re giving back to the community, you gain things for yourself on a personal level, and it’s an incentive to do even more,” she says.

She appreciated meeting other developers who shared her passion.

“I’m a very social person, and it really feels like we have common ground,” she says.

Image shows Katerina Skroumpelou presenting onstage at a conference. Behind her is a podium and a wall covered in a planetary theme

Favorite Google Maps Platform features

Skroumpelo’s favorite Google Maps Platform features are Cloud-based Maps styling, the drawing library, and the drawing manager.

“I used the drawing library a lot when I was working at the research institute, drawing things on the map,” she says. “Being able to export the data as JSON and import it again is cool.”

She used the styling feature while building a friend’s website and styled a map to go with the brand colors.

“It looks neat to have your brand colors on the map,” she says. “You can remove things from the map and add them back, add geometries, points, and other things, and draw it as you want.”

She speaks highly of Google Maps Platform’s out-of-the-box interactive features for users, like the JS repository, which has examples developers can clone, or they can use NPM to generate a new Map application.”

“It makes building a map or using it much easier,” she says, adding, “The Google Maps Platform docs are very good and detailed.”

Image shows a map of London illustrating loneliness in people over the age of 65

Future plans

Skroumpelou plans to stay with Narwhal Technologies for the long term and continue to work with Google Maps Platform as much as possible.

“I really like the company I’m working for, so I hope I stay at this company and progress up,” she says.

Image shows Katerina Skroumpelou looking off-camera with a smile. She is standing behind a podium with a laptop with a red cover covered in stickers

Follow Katerina on Twitter at @psybercity | Check out Katerina’s projects on GitHub

For more information on Google Maps Platform, visit our website or learn more about our GDE program.

#IamaGDE: Diana Rodríguez Manrique

#IamaGDE series presents: Google Maps Platform

Welcome to #IamaGDE – a series of spotlights presenting Google Developer Experts (GDEs) from across the globe. Discover their stories, passions, and highlights of their community work.

Today, meet Diana Rodríguez— Maps, Web, Cloud, and Firebase GDE.

Google Developer Expert, Diana Rodríguez

Diana Rodríguez’s 20 years in the tech industry have been focused on community and making accessible content. She is a full-stack developer with experience in backend infrastructure, automation, and a passion for Python. A self-taught programmer, Diana also learned programming skills from attending meetups and being an active member of her local developer community. She is the first female Venezuelan GDE.

“I put a lot of myself into public speaking, workshops, and articles,” says Diana. “I want to make everything I do as open and transparent as possible.”

Diana’s first foray into working with Google Maps was in 2016, when she built an app that helped record institutional violence against women in Argentina. As a freelance developer, she uses the Google Maps Platform for her delivery services clients.

“I have plenty of clients who need not only location tracking for their delivery fleet, but also to provide specific routes,” says Diana.

“The level of interaction that’s been added to Maps has made it easier for me as a developer to work with direct clients,” says Diana, who uses the Plus Codes feature to help delivery drivers find precise locations on a map. “I’m a heavy user of plus codes. They give people in remote areas and underserved communities the chance to have location services, including emergency and delivery services.”

Getting involved in the developer community

Diana first became involved in the developer community 20 years ago, in 1999, beginning with a university user group. She attended her first Devfest in Bangkok in 2010 and has worked in multiple developer communities since then. She was a co-organizer of GDG Triangle and is now an organizer of GDG Durham in North Carolina. In 2020, she gave virtual talks to global audiences.

“It’s been great to get to know other communities and reach the far corners of the Earth,” she says.

Image of Diana Rodriguez

Favorite Google Maps Platform features and current projects

Diana is excited about the Places API and the Maps team’s continuous improvements. She says the Maps team keeps the GDEs up to date on all the latest news and takes their feedback very seriously.

“Shoutout to Claire, Alex, and Angela, who are in direct contact with us, and everyone who works with them; they have been amazing,” she says. “I look forward to showcasing more upcoming changes. What comes next will be mind-blowing, immersing people into location in a different way that is more interactive.”

Of the new features released in June 2020, which include Cloud-based maps styling and Local Context, Diana says, “Having the freedom to customize the experience a lot more is amazing.”

As a Maps GDE in 2021, Diana plans to continue working on open source tech projects that benefit the greater good, like her recently completed app for Diabetes users, ScoutX, which notifies emergency contacts when a Diabetic person’s blood glucose values are too high or too low, in case they need immediate help.

She envisions an app that expands connectivity and geolocation tracking for hikers in remote areas, using LoRaWan technologies that can withstand harsh temperatures and conditions.

“Imagine you go to Yellowstone and get lost, with no GPS signal or phone signal, but there’s a tracking device connected to a LoRaWan network sending your location,” Diana says. “It’s much easier for rescue services to find you. Rack Wireless is working on providing satellite access, as well, and having precise latitude and longitude makes mapping simple.”

In the future, Diana sees herself managing a team that makes groundbreaking discoveries and puts technologies to use to help other people.

Follow Diana on Twitter at @cotufa82

Check out Diana’s projects on GitHub

For more information on Google Maps Platform, visit our website.

For more information on Google Developer Experts, visit our website.