My Journey in Technology by Praveen Mathew

This month’s blog post is from Praveen Mathew, who graduated from Letterkenny Institute of Technology with MSc in Cybersecurity. He is a Software Engineer with experience in industry. In the following blog he will share the experience that he had when he attended the womENcourage 2019 in Rome.

On the night of Friday, 13 Sep 2019 we were all at the peak of excitement about our trip to Italy to attend the ACM womENcourage conference. I, being the only male in the group, was both excited for the fact that we would be visiting the magnificent city of Rome and nervous thinking what it would be like to attend a women dominant event. I was all ready for a roller-coaster ride.

On the first day of our conference, we walked into the MAXXI museum which was the conference venue. We completed our registration and was led to the hackathon challenge where we met many technology enthusiasts like us. It was a great moment of making new friends who were equally passionate about technology like we were and it was exciting to see so many women in tech. The 8-hr hackathon challenge was mind provoking, and our challenge was to devise a sustainable smart city solution using blockchain and IoT. We came up with many ideas like smart transport, smart waste management and smart urban planning. It felt amazing to have come together as a completely new team, discuss through the differences of opinions, and negotiate to achieve a common goal. We managed to bring the ideas to reality, and present them to the highly-skilled audience which included representatives from MNCs like Google, Oracle, IBM, EY to name a few.

The next day of the conference was about tech talks and workshops that walked us into a new world of big data and smart cities. It was amazing to listen to the talks from experts in the field and learn about existing implementations, benefits, risk, challenges and the future prospects. We had a chance to listen to “policy-making based on big data” where the presenter discussed the challenges on how to filter trusted data from the big data samples. We also had the opportunity to attend the career fair where we had representatives from MNCs like Google, Oracle, IBM, EY, eni, HPE and many more. We got too many goodies from the stalls that included flash drives, logos etc. The second day of the conference ended with a fun-filled dinner and a good dance on the dance floor. 

The last day of the conference was a journey through AI, blockchain and robotics. The talk that focused on the importance of diversity in the technical field was an eye-opener that allowed us to realize how lack of diversity in the technical domain could result in unintended bias of output in AI solutions. We learned that AI solutions should be trained with non-biased and inclusive data to ensure that no opinion, race or group will be underrepresented in the AI implementation. The tech talk on “how AI can act as an enabler for smart robots” were both frightening as well as promising due to the huge risk and benefits possessed by complete autonomous AI-robotics solutions. The closing ceremony was so much fun and we won some goodies through lucky draws. We also took lots of pictures with the new friends that we made during the conference. Before closing up with the last day we also had a chance to take some clicks with our LYIT gang and our professor, Ruth Lennon which was fun 😊.  

Before catching our flight back to Dublin, we also had the chance to visit the rest of Rome, Vatican City and also Florence. Once we boarded our flight back to Dublin, we were equally happy and sad, happy to be back in our beautiful Letterkenny and sad to leave the legendary city of Rome. Once the flight took off, I looked out through the window and told myself that, there are no women or men in the IT world, there are only enthusiastic engineers who want to make the world a better place to live in.


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