Hania Guiagoussou is a passionate Java developer and a high school student in Dublin, California. She developed a "Water Saver" system to control the water usage in any garden or field. She just won third place and the prize of ten thousand dollars in the Digital Innovative Challenges organized by the ITC/Telecoms
Q: When did you start programming?
Hania: I started programming at the age of nine. My dad is a computer engineer and he encouraged my brother and me to program. I wasn’t into programming until I went to a Java programming summer workshop at Oracle where I learned object oriented programming using Alice. If it weren't for Alice, I wouldn't be interested in programming. Alice was fun and inspired me to create animation projects.
Q: What have you been programming lately?
Hania: My last project was a “Water Saver” system. It is an implementation of machine-to-machine communication that optimizes the use of water. I used sensors to capture soil humidity and surrounding temperature. The sensors are connected to a Raspberry Pi from where an intelligent agent collects and analyzes environmental data, then records it in Java objects. I first created the system for a science fair project in Pleasanton California. My friend and I were going to do a project to study the impact of herbal tea on the human memory. However, returning from school one day after it rained a lot, I saw sprinklers on even though plants and the soil had enough water in the entire neighborhood. At that time the news channels were all talking about water restrictions because of the drought in California. I said to myself “I’ve got the idea for my science fair competition!”
Q: And you won an award for it...
Hania: Along with my teammate, we received a few awards from the local engineering and science fair in March 2014. We won a special award sponsored by the local utility company and third place in the Computer Science, Maths and Engineering category from over 300 projects. In September 2014, I had an opportunity to compete in an African competition in Chad where I made it to the final round in the Digital Innovative Challenges organized by the ITC/Telecoms and Information Ministries under the sponsorship of the president of Chad and in partnership with the International Telecommunication Organization (ITU). I was the youngest participant in the finals. My project won third place and I won a generous prize of 5 million local francs (around 10 thousand US dollars).
Q: How would you advise young girls to get started in programming?
Hania: That's a really a good question because girls are not really interested in Computer Science. In my Computer Science and Engineering class, there are only 10 percent girls. I think girls should just play with tools like Alice and create animations using characters and virtual worlds of their choice. I would love to have an opportunity to show girls of my age the satisfaction of programming.
Q: How easy was it for you to get started?
Hania: Before the Alice workshop, I was not interested to go beyond the “Hello, World” application. With Alice I used advanced blocks of codes that were easy to comprehend as I was manipulating real objects using object-oriented programming. I was able to use the Java programming language without knowing I was coding. I had to get introduced in a way that I could embrace, enjoy and innovate.
Q: What do you like about Java?
Hania: I like how you can program it once and it runs on different environments. For example, for the water saver project, the program we created was targeting embedded systems and was tested on Raspberry Pi. But we initially developed the code using NetBeans on a Window PC. We took the same program and ran it on a Linux Operating system on Mac. We then moved the same code to the Raspberry Pi and it runs fine without a single code change. I really like the fact that I can program one time, run on my personal computer then have it working on many other devices. Additionally, creating a client side program using Android to connect the embedded world with our day to day devices was the icing on the cake. I was very happy when from my mobile phone and tablet I launched a standard HTML browser and controlled my application remotely.
Q: What would you like to do as a career?
Hania: It has always been my dream to become a doctor. Now, I’d like to pursue medical studies and combine it with tele-medicine to remotely help people in rural areas in developing country where heath-care system is not very developed. I want to become an influential women who can bring positive changes in people’s live. I hope one day to build a bridge between doctors from the U.S., Canada, Europe in order to help doctors in Africa communicate and exchange experiences with each other and prevent deathly diseases.