South African developers build web application to help local athletes

Posted by Aniedi Udo-Obong, Sub-Saharan Africa Regional Lead, Google Developer Groups

Lesego Ndlovu and Simon Mokgotlhoa have stayed friends since they were eight years old, trading GameBoy cartridges and playing soccer. They live three houses away from each other in Soweto, the biggest township in South Africa, with over one million residents. The two friends have always been fascinated by technology, and by the time the duo attended university, they wanted to start a business together that would also help their community.

Lesego Ndlovu and Simon Mokgotlhoa sitting at a desk on their computers

After teaching themselves to code and attending Google Developer Groups (GDG) events in Johannesburg, they built a prototype and launched a chapter of their own (GDG Soweto) to teach other new developers how to code and build technology careers.

Building an app to help their community

Lesego and Simon wanted to build an application that would help the talented soccer players in their community get discovered and recruited by professional soccer teams. To do that, they had to learn to code.

Lesego Ndlovu and Simon Mokgotlhoa holding their phones towards the screen showcasing the Ball Talent app

“We always played soccer, and we saw talented players not get discovered, so, given our interest in sports and passion for technology, we wanted to make something that could change that narrative,” Lesego says. “We watched videos on the Chrome Developers YouTube channel and learned HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, but we didn’t know how to make an app, deliver a product, or start a business. Our tech journey became a business journey. We learned about the code as the business grew. It’s been a great journey.”

After many all-nighters learning frontend development using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, and working on their project, they built BallTalent, a Progressive Web App (PWA), that helps local soccer players in their neighborhood get discovered by professional soccer clubs. They record games in their neighborhood and upload them to the app, so clubs can identify new talent.

“We tested our prototype with people, and it seemed like they really loved it, which pushed us to keep coding and improving on the project,” says Simon. “The application is currently focused on soccer, but it’s built it in a way that it can focus on other sports.”

In 2019, when BallTalent launched, the project placed in the top 5 of one of South Africa’s most prestigious competitions, Diageo Social Tech Startup Challenge. BallTalent has helped local soccer players match with professional teams, benefiting the community. Simon and Lesego plan to release version two soon, with a goal of expanding to other sports.

Learning to code with web technologies and resources

Lesego and Simon chose to watch the Chrome Developers YouTube channel to learn to code, because it was free, accessible, and taught programming in ways that were easy to understand. Preferring to continue to use free Google tools because of their availability and ease of use, Lesego and Simon used Google developer tools on Chrome to build and test the BallTalent app, which is hosted on Google Cloud Platform.

BallTalent Shows Youth Talent to the Worlds Best Scouts and Clubs

They used NodeJS as their backend runtime environment to stay within the Google ecosystem–NodeJS is powered by the V8 JavaScript engine, which is developed by the Chromium Project. They used a service worker codelab from Google to allow users to install the BallTalent PWA and see partial content, even without an internet connection.

We are focused on HTML, CSS, JavaScript, frontend frameworks like Angular, and Cloud tools like Firebase, to be able to equip people with the knowledge of how to set up an application,” says Simon.

Moving gif of soccer players playing on a soccer field

BallTalent shares sample footage of a previous match: Mangaung United Vs Bizana Pondo Chiefs, during the ABC Motsepe Play Offs

“Google has been with us the whole way,” says Simon.

Contributing to the Google Developer community

Because of their enthusiasm for web technologies and positive experience learning to code using Google tools, Lesego and Simon were enthusiastic about joining a Google Developer Community. They became regular members at GDG Johannesburg and went to DevFest South Africa in 2018, where they got inspired to start their own GDG chapter in Soweto. The chapter focuses on frontend development to meet the needs of a largely beginner developer membership and has grown to 500+ members.

Looking forward to continued growth

The duo is now preparing to launch the second version of their BallTalent app, which gives back to their community by pairing local soccer talent with professional teams seeking players. In addition, they’re teaching new developers in their township how to build their own apps, building community and creating opportunities for new developers. Google Developer Groups are local community groups for developers interested in learning new skills, teaching others, and connecting with other developers. We encourage you to join us, and if you’re interested in becoming a GDG organizer like Simon and Lesego, we encourage you to apply.

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!

Finding courage and inspiration in the developer community

Posted by Monika Janota

How do we empower women in tech and equip them with the skills to help them become true leaders? One way is learning from others’ successes and failures. Web GDEs—Debbie O’Brien, Julia Miocene, and Glafira Zhur—discuss the value of one to one mentoring and the impact it has made on their own professional and personal development.

A 2019 study showed that only 25% of keynote speakers at tech events are women, meanwhile 70% of female speakers mentioned being the only woman on a conference panel. One way of changing that is by running programs and workshops with the aim of empowering women and providing them with the relevant soft skills training, including public speaking, content creation, and leadership. Among such programs are the Women Developer Academy (WDA) and the Road to GDE, both run by Google’s developer communities.

With more than 1000 graduates around the world, WDA is a program run by Women Techmakers for professional IT practitioners. To equip women in tech with speaking and presentation skills, along with confidence and courage, training sessions, workshops, and mentoring meetings are organized. Road to GDE, on the other hand, is a three-month mentoring program created to support people from historically underrepresented groups in tech on their path to becoming experts. What makes both programs special is the fact that they’re based on a unique connection between mentor and mentee, direct knowledge sharing, and an individualized approach.

Photo of Julia Miocene speaking at a conference Julia Miocene

Some Web GDE community members have had a chance to be part of the mentoring programs for women as both mentors and mentees. Frontend developers Julia Miocene and Glafira Zhur are relatively new to the GDE program. They became Google Developers Experts in October 2021 and January 2022 respectively, after graduating from the first edition of both the Women Developer Academy and the Road to GDE; whilst Debbie O’Brien has been a member of the community and an active mentor for both programs for several years. They have all shared their experiences with the programs in order to encourage other women in tech to believe in themselves, take a chance, and to become true leaders.

Different paths, one goal

Although all three share an interest in frontend development, each has followed a very different path. Glafira Zhur, now a team leader with 12 years of professional experience, originally planned to become a musician, but decided to follow her other passion instead. A technology fan thanks to her father, she was able to reinstall Windows at the age of 11. Julia Miocene, after more than ten years in product design, was really passionate about CSS. She became a GDE because she wanted to work with Chrome and DevTools. Debbie is a Developer Advocate working in the frontend area, with a strong passion for user experience and performance. For her, mentoring is a way of giving back to the community, helping other people achieve their dreams, and become the programmers they want to be. At one point while learning JavaScript, she was so discouraged she wanted to give it up, but her mentor convinced her she could be successful. Now she’s returning the favor.

Photo of Debbie O'Brien and another woman in a room smiling at the camera

Debbie O’Brien

As GDEs, Debbie, Glafira, and Julia all mention that the most valuable part of becoming experts is the chance to meet people with similar interests in technology, to network, and to provide early feedback for the web team. Mentoring, on the other hand, enables them to create, it boosts their confidence and empowers them to share their skills and knowledge—regardless of whether they’re a mentor or a mentee.

Sharing knowledge

A huge part of being a mentee in Google’s programs is learning how to share knowledge with other developers and help them in the most effective way. Many WDA and Road to GDE participants become mentors themselves. According to Julia, it’s important to remember that a mentor is not a teacher—they are much more. The aim of mentoring, she says, is to create something together, whether it’s an idea, a lasting connection, a piece of knowledge, or a plan for the future.

Glafira mentioned that she learned to perceive social media in a new way—as a hub for sharing knowledge, no matter how small the piece of advice might seem. It’s because, she says, even the shortest Tweet may help someone who’s stuck on a technical issue that they might not be able to resolve without such content being available online. Every piece of knowledge is valuable. Glafira adds that, “Social media is now my tool, I can use it to inspire people, invite them to join the activities I organize. It’s not only about sharing rough knowledge, but also my energy.”

Working with mentors who have successfully built an audience for their own channels allows the participants to learn more about the technical aspects of content creation—how to choose topics that might be interesting for readers, set up the lighting in the studio, or prepare an engaging conference speech.

Learning while teaching

From the other side of the mentor—mentee relationship, Debbie O’Brien says the best thing about mentoring is seeing the mentees grow and succeed: “We see in them something they can’t see in themselves, we believe in them, and help guide them to achieve their goals. The funny thing is that sometimes the advice we give them is also useful for ourselves, so as mentors we end up learning a lot from the experience too.”

TV screenin a room showing and image od Glafira Zhur

Glafira Zhur

Both Glafira and Julia state that they’re willing to mentor other women on their way to success. Asked what is the most important learning from a mentorship program, they mention confidence—believing in yourself is something they want for every female developer out there.

Growing as a part of the community

Both Glafira and Julia mentioned that during the programs they met many inspiring people from their local developer communities. Being able to ask others for help, share insights and doubts, and get feedback was a valuable lesson for both women.

Mentors may become role models for the programs’ participants. Julia mentioned how important it was for her to see someone else succeed and follow in their footsteps, to map out exactly where you want to be professionally, and how you can get there. This means learning not just from someone else’s failures, but also from their victories and achievements.

Networking within the developer community is also a great opportunity to grow your audience by visiting other contributors’ podcasts and YouTube channels. Glafira recalls that during the Academy, she received multiple invites and had an opportunity to share her knowledge on different channels.

Overall, what’s even more important than growing your audience is finding your own voice. As Debbie states: “We need more women speaking at conferences, sharing knowledge online, and being part of the community. So I encourage you all to be brave and follow your dreams. I believe in you, so now it’s time to start believing in yourself.”

How GDSC students are using their skills to support communities in Ukraine

Posted by Laura Cincera, Program Manager Google Developer Student Clubs, Europe

Revealing character in moments of crisis

The conflict in Ukraine is a humanitarian crisis that presents complex challenges. During this time of uncertainty, communities of student developers are demonstrating extraordinary leadership skills and empathy as they come together to support those affected by the ongoing situation. Student Patricijia Čerkaitė and her Google Developer Student Club (GDSC) community at the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands organized Code4Ukraine, an international hackathon that brought diverse groups of over 80 student developers together on March 3-4, 2022, to develop technology solutions to support people affected by the conflict in Ukraine.

Even far from the conflict in the Netherlands, they felt compelled to make an impact. “I have relatives in Ukraine; they live in Crimea,” says Patricijia. “In my childhood, I used to spend summer holidays there, eating ice cream and swimming in the Black Sea.”

Patricijia sitting at desk in black chair looking back and smiling

Patricijia working on the details for Code4Ukraine.

Rushing to help others in need with technology

Time was of the essence. The organizing team in Eindhoven contacted other students, connected with communities near and far, and sprang into action. The team invited Ukrainian Google Developer Expert Artem Nikulchenko to share his technology knowledge and first-hand experience of what is happening in his country. Students discussed issues faced by Ukrainians, reviewed problems citizens faced, and ideated around technology-centric solutions. Feelings of exasperation, frustration, and most importantly, hope became lines of code. Together, students built solutions to answer the call: Code4Ukraine.

Blue and yellow emblem that says Code 4 Ukraine

Then, gradually, through a collaborative effort, problem solving, and hours of hard work, the winners of the Code4Ukraine Hackathon emerged: Medicine Warriors, a project built by a diverse, cross-cultural group of undergraduate students and IT professionals from Ukraine, Poland, and Georgia, aiming to address the insulin shortage in Ukraine. The project gathers publicly available data from Ukrainian government notices on insulin availability across Ukraine and presents it in an easily readable way.

Photograph of the Medicine Warriors application design

Photograph of the Medicine Warriors application design

Helping: at the heart of their community

One member of the winning team is the GDSC chapter lead at the National Technical University of Ukraine Kyiv Polytechnic Institute, Ekaterina Gricaenko. “In Ukraine, there is a saying: ‘друг пізнається в біді,’ which translates to, ‘you will know who your friends are when the rough times arrive,’” says Ekaterina. “And now, I can say that the GDSC community is definitely on my family list.”

Photograph of Ekaterina Gricaenko, GDSC Lead

Ekaterina Gricaenko, GDSC Lead, Kyiv Polytechnic Institute

The Code4Ukraine initiative’s goal of bringing others together to make an impact offers a prime example of what the Google Developer Student Clubs (GDSC) program aims to achieve: empowering student developers in universities to impact their communities through technology.

Reflecting on her experience leading the Kyiv GDSC chapter, Ekaterina says, “I started my journey with GDSC as a Core Team member, and during that time, I fell in love with our community, goals, and key concepts. Then, I decided to become a lead, to share my enthusiasm and support students as they pursue their professional dreams.

The Kyiv GDSC has organized over 18 workshops, written over 200 articles, run multiple study groups, and reached over a thousand followers on social media. “It’s incredible to realize how far we have come,” Ekaterina says.

A visual collage displays multiple activities organized by GDSC KPI

A visual collage displays multiple activities organized by GDSC KPI, led by Ekaterina Gricaenko.

Getting involved in your community

Through efforts like Code4Ukraine and other inspiring solutions like the 2022 Solution Challenge, students globally are giving communities hope as they tackle challenges and propose technical solutions. By joining a GDSC, students can grow their knowledge in a peer-to-peer learning environment and put theory into practice by building projects that solve for community problems and make a significant impact.

Photo of students in class in the upper right hand corner with a sign in the center that says Become a leader at your university

Learn more about Google Developer Student Clubs

If you feel inspired to make a positive change through technology, applications for GDSC leads for the upcoming 2022-2023 academic year are now open. Students can apply at goo.gle/gdsc-leads. If you’re passionate about technology and are ready to use your skills to help your student developer community, then you should consider becoming a Google Developer Student Clubs Lead!

We encourage all interested students to apply here and submit their applications as soon as possible. The applications in Europe will be open until 31st May 2022.

Exploring accessibility through community with Pescara’s Google Developer Group

Posted by Alessandro Palmieri, Regional Lead, Europe, Google Developer Groups

Blue banner with text that reads Exploring accessibility through community in GDG Pescara. Includes an image of two men giving standing in front of a projector screen

You never quite know exactly how someone else experiences the world – but making an effort to connect and understand others remains a hallmark of a strong community. In November 2019, Google Developer Group Pescara invited backend developer Filippo Tenaglia to speak at a local DevFest program, as part of the global developer event. The group turned the lights down and connected Filippo’s PC to the room’s speakers, and Filippo told attendees about his life as a visually impaired developer. He let them hear what he hears when he works with the code and let them hear the different speech synthesizers he uses: the one he uses to browse on the Internet, as well as the one that he uses to read source code, that reads any punctuation character.

One attendee asked Filippo how many lines of code he’s able to remember without seeing them, and Filippo answered, “I have to remember the whole block. I can’t see the code, so I memorize it. Usually, I can remember 20, even 30 lines of code.” The attendee replied, “you’re a dragon,” alluding to folklore that the mystical creatures have strong memories. Filippo laughed, and his colleague, Gregorio Palama, leader of GDG Pescara, says he got goosebumps.

Gregorio met Filippo when the two worked together at an IT consultancy. Filippo brought his guide dog Lila to work and impressed Gregario with his remarkable ability to memorize 20-30 lines of code at a time. Filippo used assistive technology, like speech synthesizers and screen readers, as well as his extraordinary memorization ability, to code. Through his friendship with Filippo, Gregorio came to understand the importance of accessibility.

Gregorio uses his Google Developer Group (GDG) Pescara community, in a small city in the central part of Italy, to advocate for people with disabilities and educate other developers about the technical tools needed to make programming, websites, and software truly accessible for the visually impaired.

Leveraging tools to stay connected

Developers with visual impairments similar to Fillipo can leverage assistive technology in Chrome like screen readers and magnifiers. When browsing the web using various accessibility extensions, there are ways for people with visual impairments to make the browser more accessible, without installing external software.

Through their friendship, Filippo continued to educate Gregorio about accessibility when he called Gregorio to volunteer for more GDG Pescara events in Italy. Filippo explained that he was calling because the group’s community messaging platform and application, where they post calls for volunteers and share event details, isn’t accessible, so Fialippo can’t see the posted information and needs to use a different method of staying up to date on GDG activities.

Using community to share the importance of accessibility

GDG Pescara plans to host a DevFest focused accessibility and other selected topics. The organizers are thinking of having a hackathon that could expose developers to Google’s accessibility tools, like the ChromeVox screen reader, which developers can use to test the accessibility of their web apps, or Chrome’s documentation on designing accessible extensions. With this community-led programming, Gregorio and his team hope to inspire other developers to build new accessibility tools, like a better community platform.

Through his friendship with Filippo, Gregorio learned the importance of accessibility. Now, he is using his GDG community and a suite of tools to help educate about accessibility and advocate for people with disabilities.

If you’re inspired to lead fellow developers into an exploration of accessibility in technology, we encourage you to join a GDG near you, or consider leading a GDG chapter. You can learn more about Google’s accessibility initiatives and developer tools here and check out an upcoming GDG community accessibility awareness event here.

GDSC India’s Android Study Jams Boost Student Career Outcomes

Posted by Tanvi Somani, Program Manager – Regional Lead, Google Developer Student Clubs, Google Developer Relations India

photo of green Android logo

Android Study Jams, hosted by Google Developer Student Clubs (GDSC) chapters across the globe and in India, leverage peer-to-peer teaching to train a new generation of student Android developers. The program aims to help student developers build their careers and put them on a solid path towards earning an Associate Android Developers Certification. Three students from the GDSC community in India, Amsavarthan Lv, Rishi Balamurugan, and Sanjay S. went the extra kilometer to earn their certifications.

Meet the newly certified Android developers

“From childhood onward, I was inspired by my brother to learn to program. He’s also a certified Android developer,” says Amsavarthan Lv, the GDSC Lead at the Chennai Institute of Technology and a full-stack web and mobile developer. “I used to be amazed by seeing the code and information on his output screen. Over time, I started exploring tech, and I chose my career as a full-stack web and mobile developer.”

Rishi Balamurugan’s father introduced him to coding, and he eventually built an application for his dad’s company. A member of GDSC Shiv Nadar University from Bangalore, Rishi was the facilitator for the Android Study Jams on his campus.

Sanjay S. mused he didn’t like technology at first, but a friend introduced him to Android with Java through an online course, which changed the course of his career. Now, he’s a pre-final-year engineering student, specializing in Android and full-stack development, at Sri Ramakrishna Engineering College – Coimbatore Tamil Nadu.

Photo of man in red shirt named Amsavarthan Lv Photo of man in plaid blue shirt named  Rishi Balamurugan Photo of man in black and white checkered shirt named Sanjay S

(Pictured from left to right) Amsavarthan Lv, Rishi Balamurugan, and Sanjay S. each recently earned a certification in Android Development.

Leveling up Android development skills

These three newly certified Android developers completed the program with comprehensive Android development skills and the confidence and preparation to build a career in Android development.

“As an Android developer, I have taken several webinars and workshops through GDSC and other campus programs,” Amsavarthan says. “The course and the content provided in Android Study Jams was a piece of cake for getting started as an Android developer. It had everything from creating basic layouts to implementing a local database.”

“After learning the fundamentals, I heard about this certification and started to prepare,” says Sanjay. “I thought this would help me stand out in my career and boost my confidence.”

After receiving mentorship from the Google Play team on Google Play and Play Academy, the students built simple applications and learned what’s involved to deploy to the Google Play Store.

  • YouTube Thumbnail Search App: A solution for users who just want to browse thumbnails and not play the videos shown in the YouTube search list, the application leverages LiveData and ViewModel to handle the UI Logic. Screenshots
  • SimplDo: This application keeps track of your todo list, with options to add, check, update, and delete items. List items are displayed using Recycler view and stored using View Model and Live Data; Jetpack navigation is used to handle navigation between the fragments and pass data. Screenshots
  • Alert’em: An emergency alerter with local helpline numbers, this app’s “Emergency Alerting System” sends an SMS containing the recent call log of the user to their emergency contacts. It uses a flexible constraint layout and a Jetpack Navigation to switch between different screens. Screenshots

Building confidence and career readiness

Open laptop with live Android Study Jam session on the screen

Over 65.5 thousand developers participated in 800+ Android Study Jams in India and emerged with new skills from the Android Basics in Kotlin Course and Appscale academy sessions. Program facilitators could earn Google Developer Profile badges and become Android Educators.

“Android Study Jams helped me to try out new libraries such as Jetpack, DataStore, and WorkManager and showed me how to work in a step-by-step manner,” says Sanjay. “It was organized in such a way that even a beginner can start learning Android easily.”

Amsavarthan, Rishi, and Sanjay took the initiative to gain the skills to pursue employment as full-time Android developers after graduation, and as the program continues, more Android Study Jams participants will be on their way to bright futures.

How to join a Google Developer Student Club and lead or attend an Android Study Jam:

  • If you’re a university student interested in opportunities to learn about Google developer products, including Android Study Jams, sign up for a Google Developer Student Club near you here.
  • Want to make a similar impact on your campus? Sign up to become a Google Developer Student Clubs Lead here.

Google Developer Student Club 2022 Lead applications are open!

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

Image that says become a leader at your university with a photo of students smiling in the top right hand corner

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!

The application form for the upcoming 2022-2023 academic year is NOW OPEN. Get started at goo.gle/gdsc-leads.

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

What are Google Developer Student Clubs?

Google Developer Student Clubs (GDSC) are university based community groups for students interested in Google developer technologies. With clubs hosted in 110+ 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 Machine Learning, 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 110+ countries with 1500+ 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 deadlines, here. Make sure to learn more about our program criteria.

Get Started

From working to solve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to combating climate issues, Google Developer Student Club leads are learning valuable coding skills while making a true difference.

As Leads from clubs around the world put it:

  • Lead from Indonesia – “The best way to learn to be a leader is to be a leader itself, and being a GDSC Lead is the best way to do that.”
  • Lead from United Kingdom – “It’s an experience that challenges you to critically think about some decisions and come up with creative and innovative new approaches for things that you thought you know about leadership.”
  • Lead from Uganda – “Becoming a GDSC lead has been an amazing opportunity to learn, engage and meet different new people in my life. It was instrumental in my career development.”

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.

Stepping up as a Machine Learning Developer —My Experience With the Google Machine Learning Bootcamp

Posted by Hyunkil Kim, Software Quality Engineer at Line Corp.

banner image that includes math chart, brain, and GDS logo

This article is written by Hyunkil Kim who participated in the Machine Learning Bootcamp which is a machine learning training program conducted in Korea to nurture next-generation ML engineers and help them to find jobs.

banner image with text that reads google developers machine learning bootcamp

As a developer, I had developed a certain level of curiosity about machine learning. I had also heard that many former developers were switching their specialization over to machine learning. Thus, I signed up for the <Google Machine Learning Bootcamp>, thinking it would be a good chance to get my feet wet.

I was a bit nervous and excited at the same time after getting the acceptance notification. Wondering if I should go over my Python skills one more time in preparation, I installed the newest version of TensorFlow on my machine. I also skimmed through documents on the basics of machine learning. Those were all unnecessary. To put it bluntly, I had to relearn everything from scratch over the course of the bootcamp. It was quite challenging to be introduced to new concepts I wasn’t familiar with, such as functional API and the concept of functional programming in general, various visualization libraries, and data processing frameworks and services that were new to me. I worked very hard with the mindset of starting fresh.

Journey to Becoming a Machine Learning Engineer

There were three main objectives for the participants: completing the Deep Learning Specialization on Coursera which is based on TensorFlow, acquiring ML certifications(TensorFlow certificate or Google Cloud ML(or Data Science) Engineer certification), and participating in Kaggle competitions. Google Developers team provided the course fee for Coursera and the certification fee and offered many benefits to those who completed the course. You could really make it worth your while as long as you took the initiative and applied your passion.

<Coursera Deep Learning Specialization>

The Coursera class is based on TensorFlow 2.x and requires watching a set amount of instructor Andrew Ng’s lectures on AI every week with screenshots and proof. It was pretty tough at first as the lectures were not in Korean. However, because the class was so famous, I was able to find posts on the internet that broke down the lectures and made them easier to understand. The class also provided reference links, so you could study more on your own once you got used to the class.

While this is not really related to the Coursera class, I also participated in online coding meetups by the bootcamp participants in-between classes as in the picture below, and it was a memorable experience. These are basically sessions held in coffee shops or study rooms where people got together and worked individually on their own coding projects in normal times. Because of the pandemic, we could not meet in person obviously and used Google Meet or Gather town and left our cameras on as we coded. It felt like I was studying with other people, and I liked the solidarity of relating to others.

animated image of cartoon figures in a dining room

<Machine Learning Certifications>

You were required to acquire at least one certification during the bootcamp. I chose to work on the GCP ML Engineer certification. As I used Google Cloud, I had wondered how ML services could be used on cloud. Coursera happened to have a specialization program for the GCP ML certification, so I took it, too. However, in the end, Google’s website offering GCP AI operations and use cases helped me more with the certification than the course on Coursera.

Image of Google Cloud certification awarded to Hyunkil Kim

<Kaggle Competition>

I didn’t get to spend as much time on Kaggle. I didn’t see any current projects that interested me, so I tried the TPS to review what I had learned so far. TPS stands for Tabular Playground Series, which is a beginner-to-intermediate level competition for new-ish Kagglers that are just getting the hang of it. You’re required to predict the value of the target from the provided tabular data. It is slightly more difficult than Titanic Survival Predictions, which is a beginner competition. I chose this competition because I figured it would be a good practice of things I had learned so far, like data analysis, feature engineering, and hyperparameter tuning.

Image of duck shown as Hyunkil Kim's profile picture on the Kaggle dashboard

This was the part where I personally felt like I could have done better. I had many ideas for improving the model or enhancing the performance, but it took way more time to apply and experiment with them than I had expected. If I had known that model learning would take this much time, I would have started working on Coursera, the certification, and the Kaggle competition all at once from the beginning. Maybe I was too nervous about entering a Kaggle competition and put it off until the end. I should have just tried without getting so nervous. I hesitated too long and ended up regretting it a little too late.

<Tech Talk and Career Talk>

The bootcamp also included many other activities, including a weekly Tech Talk on specific themes and recruiting sessions of potential employers. Companies looking for ML talents were invited and had a chance to introduce themselves, explain the available positions, and take questions about joining their workforce. Some companies sent their current Machine Learning engineers to explain how they solved business problems with which models or what kind of data. Some companies focused more on describing the type of people they were looking for in detail. I didn’t know at the time, but I heard that some of the speakers were big names in the industry. Personally, I found these talks very helpful in terms of both finding employment and familiarizing myself with the trends in the industry. The sessions were very inspiring as new ideas kept flowing as I heard about applications of technologies I only knew in theory or thought about what kind of investments in AI would be promising.

Besides the Tech Talks, there were also more relaxed sessions for things like career consultation and resume/CV reviews. There were even sessions by the Googlers, where they personally answered participants’ questions and offered some advice. As I attended various sessions, I noticed that the bootcamp crew and many Tech Talk speakers from hiring companies offered authentic and valuable advice and were very eager to help out the bootcamp participants. Nobody talked about the cold reality of the world out there. Knowing how rare it is to find mentors that offer genuinely constructive feedback and guidance, I personally was very touched and grateful about that.

Concluding the Machine Learning Bootcamp.

The Google Machine Learning Bootcamp captured the essence of what it would be like to work for Google. I felt like they expected you to take your own initiative to do what you wanted. They showed that they were willing and able to help you grow as much as possible as long as you did your best. For example, one of the world’s most famous programmers Jeff Dean was at the kickoff session, and there was even an AMA session with Laurence Moroney, who had developed the training course for TensorFlow. They also allowed maximum freedom about finding teammates for the Kaggle competitions so that you didn’t have to worry about having to carry your team. Things covered in the Tech Talks or recruitment sessions were not included in assignments. They let the participants do their thing freely while promising the best support possible in the industry if needed. I could see how some people would find it too lax that Google lets you study on your own at your own pace.

Image of video conference call with Andrew Ng, Jeff Dean, and Laurence Moroney

I think this was a rare chance to meet people from various backgrounds with the common goal of becoming machine learning engineers or developers. It was a unique experience where I got to talk and study with good people and even do something strange like the online coding meetup. There were also times when I was vainly taking pride in what little knowledge I had, but I ended up putting a lot of work into the bootcamp, wanting to make the most of it and to come ahead of others.

In the end, the take-home message is to “try anything.”

Personally, I was very happy with the experience. I got to be a little more comfortable with machine learning. As a result, I’m able to pay more attention to details related to machine learning at my new job. The challenge of facing something new is a constant of a developer’s life. Still, participating in this bootcamp felt especially meaningful to me, and I enjoyed it thoroughly.

While the bootcamp is over, I heard that some participants are still continuing with their study groups or projects. Wanting to study as a group myself, I also had asked around and volunteered to join a study group, but I ended up studying alone because none of the groups covered the area I was interested in. Even so, many people sharing useful information on Slack helped me as I studied alone, and they are still helping me even after the bootcamp.

At any rate, I keep coming up with various ideas that I want to try in my current job or as a personal project. It feels like I found a new toy that I can have fun with for a while without getting tired of it. I think I’ll start slowly with a small toy project.

Machine Learning Communities: Q4 ‘21 highlights and achievements

Posted by HyeJung Lee, DevRel Community Manager and Soonson Kwon, DevRel Program Manager

Image shows graphic illustrating Q4 success. Includes an arrow pointing to a group of stick figures

Let’s explore highlights and achievements of vast Google Machine Learning communities over the last quarter of last year! We are excited and grateful about all the activities that the communities across the globe do.

Image of the Jax logo  next to images of animals and objects. The animals and objects are labelled Predictions

India-based Aakash Nain has completed the TF-Jax tutorial series with Part 9 (Autodiff in JAX) and Part 10 (Pytrees in JAX). Aakash also started a new tutorial series to learn about the existing methods of building models in JAX. The first tutorial Building models in JAX – Part1 (Stax) is released.

Christmas tree made of code next to words that say Advent of Code

On Dec 12th, ML GDE Paolo Galeone started to solve puzzles of the Advent of Code series using “pure TensorFlow” (without any other library). His solution has been updated in a series of 12 on his blog. He explained how he designed the solutions, how he implemented them, and – when needed – focused on some TensorFlow features not widely used. (Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6, Day 7, Day 8, Day 9, Day 10, Day 11, Day 12, Wrap up)

Detailed  diagram of batch prediction/evaluation pipeline leading to model training pipeline

ML GDE Chansung Park (Korea) & Sayak Paul (India) published an “Continuous Adaptation for Machine Learning System to Data Changes” article on TensorFlow blog. They presented a project that implements a workflow combining batch prediction and model evaluation for continuous evaluation retraining In order to capture changes in the data.

Image of Elyes Manais' Google Cloud Certification

ML GDE Elyes Manai from Tunisia wrote an article on GDE blog about his experience on the Google Cloud ML Engineer certification covering guide to certificate and tips.

Image collage of medical staff wearing PPE

TFUG organizer Ali Mustufa Shaikh and Rishit Dagli released “CPPE-5: Medical Personal Protective Equipment Dataset” (paper, code). This paper got featured on Google Research TRC’s publication section on January 5, 2022.

Image of a Google slide with text reading Ok, but what are transformers?

TFUG New York hosted a series of events in Dec. End-to-End NLP Workshop with TensorFlow. Brief introduction to the Kaggle competition for Great Barrier Reef challenge by Google(Slide). TF idea for ML Projects with GCP.

Left side of image shows a screenshot  from the Google for Startups Accelerator:MENA page. Right side of mage shows man with glasses holding a piece of paper in front of a wall that has signs on it that say hashtag creativity and hashtag technology

ML GDE Elyes Manai from Tunisia wrote an article “The ability to change people’s lives and leave one’s mark“. Are you facing difficulties growing in constrained environments? And do you think you’re not a first-class student and you don’t have connections in the industry? Then, check out Elyes’s story. He shared how Google helped him accelerate his impact.

Image shows a graph with data. Labels are on the side to denote wing, body, and tail

ML GDE Sayak Paul (India) and Soumik Rakshit’s Point Cloud Segmentation implemented the PointNet architecture for segmenting 3D point clouds using the ShapeNetCore dataset with TensorFlow 2.x. It is a winner of #TFCommunitySpotlight too.

Screenshot from a paper titled What Should Not be Contrastive in Contrastive Learning

Annotated Research Papers by ML GDE Aakash Kumar Nain (India) is an effort to make papers more accessible to a wider community. It also supports the web version and includes papers from Google Research and etc. This repository is popular enough to have a +2k star and a +200 fork.

Graphic wih text that reads A DevLibrary video interview wth Shai Reznik

Interview series of DevLibrary contributors : Meet the ML GDE Shai Reznik (Israel) and Doug Duhaime. And check out what they built with Google technology and what made them passionate.

Image of a TensorFlow 2.0 Global Docs Sprint event invite with Vikram Tiwari

ML DevFest 2021 by GDG Cloud San Francisco. There are 5 sessions that walk you through framing ML problems, researching ML, building proofs of concepts using existing ML APIs and models, building ML pipelines and etc. ML GDE Vikram Tiwari (USA) presented Vertex, ML Ops and GCP.

The words using Machine Learning for COVID19 helpline with Krupal Modi next to a picture of a man holding a microphone

Krupal Modi (India)’s blog article and #IamaGDE video shares how he’s been leading the machine learning initiatives at Haptik, a conversational AI platform, and how the team paired with the Indian Government and WhatsApp to build a COVID-19 helpline.

Hashtag I am a GDE next to a photo of a woman with sunglasses on her head

Leigh Johnson from USA is the founder of Print Nanny, an automated failure detection system and monitoring system for 3D printers. Meet Leigh in this blog and video!

ML Olympiad: Globally Distributed ML Competitions by the Community

Posted by Hee Jung, DevRel Community Manager

Blog header image shows graphic illustration of people, a group, and a medal

We are happy to announce ML Olympiad, an associated Kaggle Community Competitions hosted by Machine Learning Google Developer Experts (ML GDE) and TensorFlow User Group (TFUG).

Kaggle recently announced “Community Competitions” allowing anyone to create and host a competition at no cost. And our proud members of ML communities decided to dive in and take advantage of the feature to solve critical issues of our time, providing opportunities to train developers.

Why the ML Olympiad?

To train ML for developers leveraging Kaggle’s community competition. This is an opportunity for the participants to practice ML. This is the first 2022 global campaign of the ML Ecosystem team and this helps build stronger communities.

Image with text that reads Community Competitions make machine learning fun

ML Olympiad Community Competitions

Currently, 16 ML Olympiad community competitions are open, hosted by ML GDEs and TFUGs.

Arabic_Poems (in local language) link

  • Predict the name of a poet for Arabic poems. Encourage people to practice on Arabic NLP using TF.
  • Hosts: Ruqiya Bin Safi (ML GDE), Eyad Sibai, Hussain Alfayez / Saudi TFUG & Applied ML/AI group

Sky Survey link

  • Stellar classification with the digital sky survey
  • Hosts: Jieun Yoo, Michael Mellinger / NYTFUG

Análisis epidemiológico Guatemala (in local language) link

  • Make an analysis and prediction of epidemiological cases in Guatemala and the relations.
  • Hosts: Alvin Estrada, Julio Monterroso / TensorFlow User Group Guatemala

QUALITY EDUCATION (in local language) link

  • Competition will be focused on the Enem (National High School Examination) data. Competitors will have to create models to predict student scores in multiple tests.
  • Hosts: Vinicius Fernandes Caridá (ML GDE), Pedro Gengo, Alex Fernandes Mansano / Tensorflow User Group São Paulo

Landscape Image Classification link

  • Classification of partially masked natural images of mountains, buildings, seas, etc.
  • Hosts: Aditya Kane, Yogesh Kulkarni (ML GDE), Shashank Sane / TFUG Pune

Autism Prediction Challenge link

  • Classifying whether individuals have Autism or not.
  • Hosts: Usha Rengaraju, Vijayabharathi Karuppasamy, Samuel T / TFUG Mysuru and TFUG Chennai

Tamkeen Fund Granted link

  • Predict the company funds based on the company’s features
  • Hosts: Mohammed buallay (ML GDE), Sayed Ali Alkamel (ML GDE)

Hausa Sentiment Analysis (in local language) link

  • Classify the sentiment of sentences of Hausa Language
  • Hosts: Nuruddeen Sambo, Dattijo Murtala Makama / TFUG Bauchi

TSA Classification (in local language) link

  • We invite participants to develop a classification method to identify early autistic disorders.
  • Hosts: Yannick Serge Obam (ML GDE), Arnold Junior Mve Mve

Let’s Fight lung cancer (in local language) link

  • Spotting factors that are link to lung cancer detection
  • Hosts: abderrahman jaize, Sara EL-ATEIF / TFUG Casablanca

Genome Sequences classification (in local language) link

  • Genome sequence classification based on NCBI’s GenBank database
  • Hosts: Taha Bouhsine, Said ElHachmey, Lahcen Ousayd / TensorFlow User Group Agadir

GOOD HEALTH AND WELL BEING link

  • Using ML to predict heart disease – If a patient has heart disease or not
  • Hosts: Ibrahim Olagoke, Ahmad Olanrewaju, Ernest Owojori / TensorFlow User Group Ibadan

Preserving North African Culture link

  • We are tackling cultural preservation through a machine learning model capable of identifying the origin of a given item (food, clothing, building).
  • Hosts: elyes manai (ML GDE), Rania Boughanmi, Kayoum Djedidi / IEEE ESSTHS + GDSC ENIT

Delivery Assignment Prediction link

  • The aim of this competition is to build a multi-class classification model capable of accurately predicting the most suitable driver for one or several given orders based on the destination of the order and the paths covered by the deliverers.
  • Host: Thierno Ibrahima DIOP (ML GDE)

Used car price link

  • Predicting the price of an imported used car.
  • Hosts: Armel Yara, Kimana Misago, Jordan Erifried / TFUG Abidjan

TensorFlow Malaysia User Group link

  • Using AI/ML to solve Business Data problem
  • Hosts: Poo Kuan Hoong (ML GDE), Yu Yong Poh, Lau Sian Lun / TensorFlow & Deep Learning Malaysia User Group

Navigating ML Olympiad

You can search “ML Olympiad” on Kaggle Community Competitions page to see them all. And for further info, look for #MLOlympiad on social media.

Google Developers support ML Olympiad by providing swag for top 3 winners of each competition. Find your interest among the competitions, join/share them, and get your part of the swag for competition winners!

Google Developer Group Spotlight: A conversation with GDG Juba Lead, Kose

Posted by Aniedi Udo-Obong, Sub-Saharan Africa Regional Lead, Google Developer Groups

Header image featuring Kose with text that says meet Kose

The Google Developer Groups Spotlight series interviews inspiring leaders of community meetup groups around the world. Our goal is to learn more about what developers are working on, how they’ve grown their skills with the Google Developer Group community, and what tips they might have for us all.

We recently spoke with Kose, community lead for Google Developer Groups Juba in South Sudan. Check out our conversation with Kose about building a GDG chapter, the future of GDG Juba, and the importance of growing the tech community in South Sudan.

Tell us a little about yourself?

I’m a village-grown software developer and community lead of GDG Juba. I work with JavaScript stack with a focus on the backend. Learning through the community has always been part of me before joining GDG Juba. I love tech volunteerism and building a community around me and beyond. I attended many local developer meetups and learned a lot that led to my involvement with GDG Juba.

I am currently helping grow the GDG Juba community in South Sudan, and previously volunteered as a mentor in the Google Africa Developer Scholarship 2020.

Why did you want to get involved in tech?

I hail from a remote South Sudan’s village with little to zero access to technology. My interest in tech has largely been driven due to an enthusiasm to build things and solve farming, agricultural economics, and social issues using technology.

I am currently researching and working on a farmers connection network to help transform our agricultural economics.

What is unique about pursuing a career as a developer in South Sudan?

When you talk about technology in South Sudan, we are relatively behind compared to our neighbors and beyond. Some challenges include the lack of support, resources, and mentorship among the few technology aspirants. The electricity and internet bills are so costly that an undetermined hustler won’t sacrifice their days’ hustle for exploring and learning the tech spectrum.

At the same time, there are a lot of areas technology developers can dive into. Finance, hospitality, agriculture, transportation, and content creation are all viable fields. As a determined techie, I tasked myself with allocating 10% of everything I do and earn to learning and exploring technology. This helped me to have some time, money, and resources for my tech journey. As for mentorship, I’m building a global network of resourceful folks to help me venture into new areas of the tech sector.

How did you become a GDG lead?

I’ve always been that person who joined tech events as often as I could find registration links. In my college days, I would skip classes to attend events located hours away. I would hardly miss Python Hyderabad, pycons, and many other Android meetups. It was during the International Women’s Day (IWD) 2018 event organized by WTM Hyderabad and GDG Hyderabad that I was lucky enough to give a short challenge pitch talk. I saw how the conference folks were excited and amazed given the fact that I was the only African in the huge Tech Mahindra conference hall. I met a lot of people, organizers, business personalities and students.

Kose shakes hand with woman at stage

Kose takes the stage for International Women’s Day (IWD) 2018

At the end of the conference and subsequent events, I convinced myself to start a similar community. Since starting out with a WhatsApp group chat, we’ve grown to about 200 members on our GDG event platform, and have event partners like Koneta Hub and others. Since then, GDG Juba is helping grow the tech community around Juba, South Sudan.

How has the GDG community helped you grow in the tech industry?

From design thinking to public speaking and structuring technical meetups, the GDG community has become a resourceful part of organizing GDG Juba meetups and enhancing my organizational skills.

As a community lead, I continuously plan the organization of more impactful events and conferences, and network with potential event partners, speakers, mentors, and organizers. Being part of the GDG community has helped me get opportunities to share knowledge with others. In one instance, I became a mobile web mentor and judge for the Google Africa Developer Scholarship 2020 program.

What has been the most inspiring part of being a part of your local Google Developer Group?

As a tech aspirant, I had always wanted to be part of a tech community to learn, network, and grow in the community. Unfortunately, back then there wasn’t a single tech user group in my locality. The most inspiring thing about being part of this chapter is the network buildup and learning from the community. I notably network with people I could have never networked with on a typical day.

Kose standing with 10 members at GDG Juba meetup

Kose at a GDG Juba meetup

A lot of our meetup attendees now share their knowledge and experiences with others to inspire many. We are seeing a community getting more engagement in technology. Students tell us they are learning things they hardly get in their college curriculum.

As a learner myself, I am very excited to see folks learn new tech skills and am also happy to see women participating in the tech events. I’m especially proud of the fact that we organized International Women’s Day (IWD) 2021, making it possible for us to be featured in a famous local newspaper outlet.

What are some technical resources you have found the most helpful for your professional development?

The official documentation from Google Developers for Android, Firebase, and others have been and are still helpful for my understanding and diving into details of the new things I learn.

In addition to the cool resources from the awesome tech bloggers on the internet, these links are helping me a lot in my adventure:

  1. Google Developers Medium articles
  2. Android Developers Training courses
  3. Udacity Android/ Firebase courses
  4. GitHub code review
  5. Google Developers India YouTube channel

What is coming up for GDG Juba that you are most excited about?

As part of our Android Study Jam conducted earlier this year, we are planning to host a mentorship program for Android application development. The program will run from scratch to building a fully-fledged, deployable Android app that the community can use for daily activities. I am particularly excited about the fact that we will be having a mentor who has been in the industry for quite a long time. I hope to see people who read this article participating in the mentorship program, too!

What would be one piece of advice you have for someone looking to learn more about a specific technology?

Be a learner. Join groups that can mentor your learning journey.

Ready to learn new skills with developers like Kose? Find a Google Developer Group near you, here.

How students built a web app with the potential to help frontline workers

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

Image of Olly and Daniel from GDSC at Wash U.

Image of Olly and Daniel from Google Developer Student Clubs at Wash U.

When Olly Cohen first arrived on campus at Washington University in St. Louis (Wash U), he knew the school was home to many talented and eager developers, just like him. Computer science is one of the most popular majors at Wash U, and graduates often find jobs in the tech industry. With that in mind, Olly was eager to build a community of peers who wanted to take theories learned in the classroom and put them to the test with tangible, real-life projects. So he decided to start his own Google Developer Student Club, a university-based community group for students interested in learning about Google developer technology.

Olly applied to become Google Developer Student Club Lead so he could start his own club with a faculty advisor, host workshops on developer products and platforms, and build projects that would give back to their community.

He didn’t know it at the time, but starting the club would eventually lead him to the most impactful development project of his early career — building a web application with the potential to help front-line healthcare workers in St. Louis, Missouri, during the pandemic.

Growing a community with a mission

The Google Developer Student Club grew quickly. Within the first few months, Olly and the core team signed up 150 members, hosted events with 40 to 60 attendees on average and began working on five different projects. One of the club’s first successful projects, led by Tom Janoski, was building a tool for the visually impaired. The app provides audio translations of visual media like newspapers and sports games.

This success inspired them to focus their projects on social good missions, and in particular helping small businesses in St. Louis. With a clear goal established, the club began to take off, growing to over 250 members managed by 9 core team members. They were soon building 10 different community-focused projects, and attracting the attention of many local leaders, including university officials, professors and organizers.

Building a web app for front-line healthcare workers

As the St. Louis community began to respond to the coronavirus pandemic in early 2020, some of the leaders at Wash U wondered if there was a way to digitally track PPE needs from front-line health care staff at Wash U’s medical center. The Dean of McKelvey School of Engineering reached out to Olly Cohen and his friend Daniel Sosebee to see if the Google Developer Student Club could lend a hand.

The request was sweeping: Build a web application that could potentially work for the clinical staff of Wash U’s academic hospital, Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

So the students got right to work, consulting with Google employees, Wash U computer science professors, an industry software engineer, and an M.D./Ph.D. candidate at the university’s School of Medicine.

With the team assembled, the student developers first created a platform where they could base their solution. Next, they built a simple prototype with a Google Form that linked to Google Sheets, so they could launch a pilot. Lastly, in conjunction with the Google Form, they developed a serverless web application with a form and data portal that could let all staff members easily request new PPE supplies.

In other words, their solution was showing the potential to help medical personnel track PPE shortages in real time digitally, making it easier and faster to identify and gather the resources doctors need right away. A web app built by students poised to make a true difference, now that is what the Google Developer Student Club experience is all about.

Ready to make a difference?

Are you a student who also wants to use technology to make a difference in your community? Click here to learn more about joining or starting a Google Developer Student Club near you.