Computing Education Specialist
Australian Computing Academy
What’s your background in computer science?
I actually started out in the humanities studying languages and linguistics.
When I did start coding, it was challenging, but fantastic. I wanted to combine linguistics and CS to get computers to better understand and manipulate language.
While doing my research in computational linguistics, I also got involved with outreach activities.
I started running the sorts of workshops that I would have wanted to attend as a student. Teachers really liked the resources, but kept asking for moreI got sick of apologising and explaining that it wasn’t my day job.
We founded a startup (Grok Learning), and now teach tens of thousands of students to create cool things and solve problems with code every year.
What project are you currently working on?
I’m currently working on a national project helping support teachers in schools, and ensuring that every Australian student has an authentic experience of creating and problem solving with technology.
What is the big picture goal or purpose behind your work?
Technology is changing the world. It’s a more and more critical part of every field, from finance to fashion. I want to make sure that every Australian understands how technology works, so that they know how to solve the problems that matter to them and create the things that they want to see in the world.
When did you get switched on to STEM, and how?
I always enjoyed STEM subjects at school, but didn’t really see the purpose of them – for me. It seemed like everything had already been discovered. I couldn’t have been more wrong!
I got back into STEM to solve a problem. I understood languages and linguistics, and noticed the systematic errors automatic translation was making. I understood, from a linguistics view, how to fix it! All I had to do was learn this pesky coding thing!
Armed with this challenge, – this goal I set myself – I had a purpose. And that purpose was enough to motivate me through my PhD and beyond.
What do you know about STEM now that you didn’t know at school?
The diverse roles you can do which involve STEM. Science isn’t a solved subject. There are mysteries to be solved, questions to be answered, and innovations to be made in every field!
Nicky’s career path:
>> Bachelor of Arts, University of Sydney
>> Graduate Diploma (Computing), University of Sydney
>> PhD (Computational Linguistics), University of Sydney
>> Co-founder, Grok Learning
>> Computing Education Specialist, Australian Computing Academy, University of Sydney
Author: Larissa Fedunik-Hofman
Larissa is the editorial assistant for Careers with STEM and a Chemistry PhD student. Larissa’s goal is to promote public engagement with STEM through inspiring stories.