Alumnae Spotlight is where you get to meet our wonderful Astra S.T.E.A.M. Alumnae. In the past three years, we were lucky to have influenced over 80 young girls who are aspired to become young entrepreneurs in the STEAM fields. Each year, these young girls work in teams to come up with New Venture App ideas during a two-day Astra S.T.E.A.M. Summit. At the end of the Summit, they pitch their ideas in front of a panel of judges.
Through this experience, we want to encourage young girls to develop their interests in STEAM subjects as well as entrepreneurship, and to empower them to become the next generation of female scientists and women entrepreneurs.
In today’s Alumnae Spotlight, we would like to introduce you to our 2016 STEAMer -Kundana Pillari!
Tell us a little more about yourself
My name is Kundana Pillari. I am a freshmen at Redmond High School. I was born in India. I lived in India for 12 years. I moved from India to the U.S two years ago. My favorite hobby is coding. I have coded Python, C, and Java till now. I have been to satellite club that held in my middle school, science Olympiad and to WANIC program where we created robots and coded with C language. I have also held two Google CS-first clubs with my sister in my middle school and Lake Hills Elementary school with the help of Google. We taught scratch and basic introduction to computer science. Another favorite hobby of mine is reading books.
How did you first hear about the Astra STEAM Program?
I heard about Astra STEAM Program from the newsletter that has been sent to my mom from my school. When my mom told me about the program, I was very excited to be a part of this. I was always looking for a platform where I could share my knowledge and gain knowledge. I have always heard that not many women are in the field of computer science and the concept supporting women to share their ideas encouraged me more to be a part of it.
Which year did you attend the Astra STEAM Summit?
I attended the Astra STEAM Summit in November, 2016. I had a wonderful experience. I was able to share my ideas and hear other viewpoints. I loved working with my team. We all stood together and supported each other. This program taught me about time management, cooperation, and many other things. This experience was a milestone for me.
What was your team’s business and App idea?
My team’s business and App idea was SnapFoodie. Our proposal was to an app where we could help people make better choices. Our app uses the API scanner to analyze the food and gives basic information about the food. In the beginning, we started to come with ideas and proposals that would benefit the people. We had a lot of ideas floating and finally we choose an idea of an app scanning the food and that would give the basic information about the food. Even then we were still confused on how would this app work. Then I remembered that before when I was browsing I found about the Microsoft cognitive services where there were API scanners. There were many API scanners such as speech API, recognition API etc. Then I introduced API to my team and explained the merits and demerits of using API. Then we agreed on proposing an app that would analyze the food with the help of the APIs.
What was your best memory from the Astra STEAM Summit?
My best memory from the Astra STEAM Summit was presenting our idea. I have given many speeches but this was a special one. I was confidently able to share our idea and that was the best part of the summit.
What were your takeaways from the Astra STEAM Summit?
I have learned many things from this experience. This experience has taught me how to handle and work with a team. This experience has boosted up my confidence and has taught me many things that I will never forget in my life.
What is your dream career?
My dream career was always to become a software engineer. After this experience, I would want to start a business in the software industry.
Do you have a role model?
I have three role models in my life that inspire me every day. They are my parents and my grandma. My mom and dad both work in Microsoft which has always inspired me to become a software engineer. I have always seen them coding which has influenced me to code. They motivated me to challenge myself and to achieve great things. My grandma has always been supportive. She has taught me how to stay strong and to show perseverance. She was and is inspiring me every day.
If you have one advice for the new STEAMers, what would it be?
My advice would be to relax and enjoy. This is a wonderful opportunity so you should just enjoy it. Share knowledge and have fun.