Jemma The Coding Queen

2020 03 12 jemma web 01Jemma Swaak is an enthusiastic Year 12 Pacific Hills student who is part of our F1 in Schools STEM Challenge race team, and she is already looking ahead to a future in engineering. Jemma has achieved remarkable success after making the top five for the Women in STEM Award which was sponsored by Engineers Australia at the F1 in Schools National Finals.

Jemma spent part of her holidays at the Women in Engineering Camp at The University of New South Wales. The camp, which has been running since 2014, selects 100 girls from across Australia to be mentored by females in the engineering field.

Workshops ‘Code Like A Girl’ and ‘Girls’ Programming Network’ at the University of Sydney first sparked Jemma’s interest in Software Engineering, along with a networking night where she met with industry leaders such as Atlassian and Google.

At the camp, there was time for not only coding but engineering themed scavenger hunts around the university campus! In one team challenge the girls were given a solar panel, motor and random wires and told to make a solar car that they would race. Whilst Jemma hadn’t studied Engineering as a subject in school she was able to apply what she’d learnt from her time in the F1 in Schools program.

“We constructed the motor and then had to figure out how to put the wires in to make the solar panels work”, Jemma said.

Jemma has enjoyed the collaborative process of Engineering and working alongside her F1 teammates Lachlan Vos, Lachlan George, Joshua Kan and Samuel Kirkegard.

“Engineering is working with a lot of people and I love working in a team”, she noted.

In School, Jemma has learned coding languages ‘C Sharp’ and ‘Python’ which will hold her in good stead for her future career. Now more than ever, she is determined to pursue a career in Engineering and feels empowered by female mentors who are at the top of their field.

“I definitely know I want to do Computer Science and a double degree in Mechatronics Engineering at either University of Sydney or University of New South Wales. I believe the field is a future focused profession that encourages constant learning, pushing yourself and using problem solving - all things I love”, she noted.

So driven is Jemma that she’s already decided she’d like to work at her dream company, Atlassian, possibly in the area of ‘Natural Language Processing’ which combines her passions for Computer Science and English.

“Basically, Natural Language Processing is telling the computer how to understand different accents, languages and artificial intelligence”, she explained.

Age has proved no deterrence for the 16 year old who, despite not being the advised university age, decided to apply to help lead a Coding Camp for primary school aged children around Australia. Jemma made it through to the second round of selections and, whether she makes it through to the final stages or not, she sees the application as a great experience.

“I really love pushing myself and believe we are only limited by ourselves and our own imagination! I like to challenge myself and others around me. I have the enthusiasm that I know I’ll go wherever I need to go and I’ll be guided by God through the process”, she said.

There’s no denying Jemma has enthusiasm in abundance and we can’t wait to see where the future takes her!