Posted by Salim Abid, MENA Regional Lead, Developer Relations
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 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.
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.
The top 50 semi-finalists and the top 10 finalists were announced earlier this year. It all comes down to Demo Day on August 26th, where the finalists will present their solutions to Google and developers all around the world, live on YouTube. Here, judges will review their projects, ask questions, and choose the top 3 grand prize winners!
You can RSVP here to be a part of Demo Day, vote for the People’s Choice Award, and watch all the action as it unfolds live. Ahead of the event, get to know the top 10 finalists and their incredible solutions below.
Cameroon – Flow, University of Bamenda
UN Sustainable Goal Addressed: Goal 6: Clean Water & Sanitation
Flow is a mobile app that helps users easily find clean water sources nearby using Google Maps. Selecting a water source location on the map will tell users the name of the location, the status of the water source, and the approximate distance to the water source from the user’s current location. Flow was built with Firebase, Flutter, Google Cloud Platform, and Google Maps Platform. The app was developed by Alouzeh Brandone Mahbuh, Chi Karl Junior, Meh Mbeh Ida Delphine, and Nuikweh Lewis.
“The lack of water and quest for clean water in my community inspired us to select this goal. Our solution is a mobile application which makes use of a ‘live location’ feature to help members in my community easily find clean water sources.”
Canada – Helppier, University of Toronto
UN Sustainable Goals Addressed:Goal 3: Good Health & Wellbeing, Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities, Goal 11: Sustainable Cities
Helppier is an Android app that creates volunteering opportunities in local neighborhoods. With Helppier, you can volunteer to help out others, request a volunteer, and earn rewards. Unlike traditional volunteering positions with organizations, Helppier fosters a sense of community by allowing people to make a direct impact in their neighborhood. Helppier’s ultimate goal is to make volunteering a regular part of peoples’ daily routines. The Android app was developed using Google Cloud Platform, Firebase, and Cloud Run by James Lee, Janice Cheung, Mohamed Amine Belabbes, and Oluwateleayo Oyekunle.
“With loneliness rates skyrocketing due to COVID, many people are feeling more isolated and in need of help, but may not have anyone in their neighborhood to turn to. Helppier facilitates the opportunity for people to connect with one another through acts of kindness, regardless of who they are or where they came from.”
Egypt – E-Owl, Future Academy
UN Sustainable Goals Addressed:Goal 3: Good Health & Wellbeing, Goal 4: Quality Education
E-Owl is a virtual education platform that helps professors create virtual meetings, exams, and posts. With E-Owl, students can also check their grades and assignments online. The web application features focus detection and monitors real-time emotion of students to help instructors improve their students’ learning experience. E-Owl was created using Firebase, Google Cloud Platform, and TensorFlow by Ahmed Mostafa Ibrahiem, Kerolos Kamal Botros, Khaled Abdel-Fattah Ahmed, and Mahmoud Said Ramadan Gad.
“Our main target is education and well-being. We are working on how to maintain learners’ attention and motivation in the virtual classrooms and also effectively managing the progress of each student online.”
Germany – SimplAR, Technical University of Munich
UN Sustainable Goals Addressed:Goal 4: Quality Education, Goal 8: Decent Work & Economic Growth, Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities
SimplAR is an app that utilizes the power of Natural Language Processing to translate any text (newspapers, books, manuals, etc.) into simplified language just by taking a picture of it. The app is catered towards people with functional illiteracy who sometimes have difficulty comprehending text. SimplAR delivers text following plain language principles that is easy to understand, making reading experiences more accessible for everyone. Almo Sutedjo, Maria Pospelova, Sami Wirtensohn, and Viviana Sutedjo used Flutter and Firebase to develop their app.
“Around 1 in 7 people worldwide have difficulties understanding complicated texts due to functional illiteracy. We want to enable people with functional illiteracy to gain understanding about any text in any form, and therefore giving them the chance to lead a more independent life.”
India – Eye Of God, K. J. Somaiya College of Engineering
Eye of God is an app featuring an easy-to-use navigation system that helps people with visual impairment navigate to their destination by themselves without needing the assistance of others. The Eye of God navigation system uses voice feedback through the user’s smartphone which is mounted on a VR Headset, and vibrational feedback through a custom-made waist belt, to guide users in both indoor and outdoor settings. The app is built with Firebase, Flutter, Google Cloud Platform, TensorFlow, and more, by Anish Pawar, Gayatri Vijay Patil, Jatin Nainani, and Priyanka Hotchandani.
“Being blind or visually impaired doesn’t need to mean the loss of independence of getting to and from places. The advancement of technology can make it possible to help people move freely within their environments and get around safely regardless of their amount of vision.”
India – Swaasthy, Chitkara University
UN Sustainable Goals Addressed: Goal 3: Good Health & Wellbeing, Goal 4: Quality Education, Goal 8: Decent Work & Economic Growth
Swaasthy is a medical app made to uplift user health and increase access to healthcare. It contains medicine reminder functionality and the ability to make an SOS call to nearby ambulances, get an appointment with a virtual doc, and more. The team behind the app believes that their all-in-one approach will go a long way towards bringing down the death rate faced by patients in India due to delays in health services. Additionally, Swaasthy promotes education and economic growth by providing first responders with valuable training opportunities when they sign up via the app. Bhavesh Goyal, Himanshu Sharma, Ishan Sharma, and Kushal Bhanot used Flutter and Firebase to bring their idea to life.
“When it comes to saving a life, every millisecond counts! One in 10 patients in India dies on the way to the hospital. And we’re here to change that. We’re Swaasthy! The only health app you’ll ever need. Solving real-life problems isn’t easy, but at the same time, it’s not impossible.”
Indonesia – Game Your Fit, Binus University International
UN Sustainable Goal Addressed:Goal 3: Good Health & Wellbeing
Game Your Fit is an app that keeps track of your movements in real time using your smartphone’s movement sensors. It promotes exercise and staying active by turning the experience into a game! The app features a variety of aerobic, anaerobic, and calisthenics exercises to target different areas of the user’s body. One of the app’s game modes, CardioCamera, uses Google’s MLKit AI library to detect movements that the user makes. The app is written in Kotlin and connected to a Firebase project, and was developed by Aric Hernando, Jason Christian Hailianto, Jason Jeremy Wijadi, and Monique Senjaya.
“We are interested in creating a solution for target 3.4, which is to reduce mortality from non-communicable diseases and promote mental health. We aim to improve the health of many, specifically teens and young adults, by designing a gamified exercising application experience.”
Philippines – i-RISE, University of the Philippines in the Visayas
Project Island Response and Intervention for Systematic Evacuation, or i-RISE, is a disaster risk management system that aims to bridge the information gap between local government units, disaster risk management offices, and the island communities of Tubigon, Bohol. The app includes tidal and weather information, evacuation warnings, rescue request functionality, climate change education, and more. i-Rise consists of a web app and mobile app, built with Flutter, Cloud Functions, Cloud Firestore, and Firebase. The project was built by Jian Hurl A. Asiado, Joerian E. Gauten, Patricia Marie C. Garcia, and Rex Ronter G. Ruiz.
“The Philippines is one of the world’s most affected countries by climate change as it experiences the most frequent and strongest typhoons and sea level rise. The vision of Project i-RISE is disaster resilience as a national imperative where all Filipinos anywhere in the archipelago are inclusive of growth and are able to adapt to the adverse effects of climate change.”
Singapore – DementiCare, Nanyang Technological University
UN Sustainable Goal Addressed:Goal 3: Good Health & Wellbeing
DementiCare is an app equipped with a wide range of features to compliment caregiving for people living with dementia. With the app, caregivers can send notices to patients, access discussion forums, create a patient dashboard, and more. A user with dementia can send an SOS, access memories, view family data, and read notes from caregivers. DementiCare includes a simple interface for users living with dementia, and a feature-rich dashboard to help caregivers carry out their responsibilities without relying on any additional software. Aishik Nagar and Ritik Bhatia used Flutter and Firebase to build their app.
“Having personal relations suffering from Dementia and having cared for them several times, we knew firsthand how tough it was for patients and their caregivers to cope with Dementia. Our solution is DementiCare, a mobile application made to reduce, digitize, and revolutionize the barrier to skills, knowledge, and experience required for providing care to patients suffering from Dementia.”
Turkey – QRegister, Middle East Technical University
UN Sustainable Goals Addressed:Goal 3: Good Health & Wellbeing, Goal 12: Responsible Consumption & Production, Goal 15: Life on Land
QRegister is an app that removes the need for physical paper receipts upon transactions and instead encourages the use of QR codes for users to virtually keep track of all their receipts. The app reduces waste generation by eliminating paper receipts that usually end up as litter. BPA, a chemical often used in thermal receipts, can be absorbed through the skin and has been linked to a number of health concerns. By digitizing receipts, QRegister reduces the chemicals that we’re exposed to daily. QRegister was created with Firebase and Flutter by Alkım Dömeke, Deniz Karakay, Humeyra Bodur, and Murat Kaş.
“QRegister wants to raise awareness regarding the wastefulness of paper receipt production. Our team developed an environmentally friendly smart register that eliminates paper receipts and effortlessly stores purchase data.”
Feeling inspired and ready to learn more about Google Developer Student Clubs? Find a club near you here, and be sure to RSVP here to watch our upcoming Solution Challenge Demo Day on August 26th.