Girls in Tech Singapore Presents: D+D Day

In our avid passion for cultivating ideas around themes involving technology, Girls in Tech recently collaborated with Google and ThoughtWorks to organize a fun-filled and enriching day of keynote discussions and integrated workshops focused on fresh design and development concepts. This event serves to provide a platform for the learning of design and technology, as well as opportunities surrounding exploration, engagement and execution.

Our first keynote speaker Kate Linton, Experience Design Principal at ThoughtWorks, presented an overview of agile experience design through case studies and personal stories of her journey from traditional design practices to agile experience Design.

Kate emphasized that the role of the designer is to evolve into becoming a part of a collaborative design process to deliver new and innovative experiences. She stressed that you should always test your hypothesis to validate assumptions and not assume that you know what customers want. Through collaboration and testing with customers, the concept of open innovation will be integrated into the design process. Further, she talked about using a more lean and agile approach to produce better products and deliver them faster, while allowing the product to be out there. There should also be ongoing improvements to keep up with competition by simply reiterating through the activities and building on your initial findings.  All in all, this shift towards a more collaborative approach to the design process further shows the increasing importance of the democratizing of design.

After Kate’s presentation, we had Erwan Mace, Developer Relations South-East Asia at Google, sharing discussions about Google Developer and the various platforms, tools, languages and product APIs available to developers, which includes: Android applications, Google App Engine (GAE), and Html5/ Javascript web applications. Some facts about the tools and the APIs that he talked about includes:

  • GAE is Google’s main cloud computing platform, and it lets you run your own web applications  on Google’s extensive network of servers, making it easier to scale your application as traffic demands.
  • Android is gaining momentum in Southeast Asia with 300+ million activations, 850K+ new activations per day, and 15+ billion app installs.

We had our last speaker Andy Marks, Technical Principal at ThoughtWorks, speaking to us about different types of developers, and although it can be applied to other areas of work as well, he gave tips to those who are considering software development as a career.

He shared with us why “it is important to learn to fight, so you don’t have to fight”. Learn as much as you can about your discipline and start practising. Also, a combined approach of knowledge and action is the best way to toughen up and become better prepared for the challenges ahead. Furthermore, it will be important to get a mentor, who can impart constructive and insightful knowledge and advice relevant to your industry and/or field of expertise.

He stressed one to be a polyglot to diversify and learn more than one software language. This is to help one to be more adaptable and flexible to challenges. Further encouragement was given to join local tech communities such as Hackerspace to meet like-minded people to connect over shared interests. Finally, Andy imparted a valuable advice— “if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.”

Post the speakers, all the participants continued the day with the “Exercise Your Mind” workshop, where each one of us followed the movements of the tai chi “shifu”, and experimented with various interesting moves. It was a great way to stretch and expand your mind as well!

The event highlights also included the four workshops, where participants got a hands-on experience learning design or development in a more intimate and hands-on setting.

Andy led one of the sessions on learning more about software development through tutorials, showcasing the varied roles of a developer, from building small web-based widgets, to fully-fledged applications. Kate, in another session, took the participants through a series of interactive exercises that strived to enhance the understanding of how experience design fit within an agile context. When it comes to designing, some basic design rules that applied included:

  • Identify the problem you are trying to solve.
  • Identify your user story.
  • Ideate. Build. Test. Measure. Repeat the cycle.
  • Learn how to draw. It makes sense to be able to express visually using colours!
  • Keep iterating. Conduct user studies and testing.

The other two workshops were led by Google’s developer relations gurus who took the participants in depth into the development and evolution of their platforms, including GAE and Google Android. It was a valuable and practical hands-on introduction to learn how to build a simple web application using GAE, as well as developing applications for Android.

At the end of the day, the participants left feeling inspired with the learnings, and meeting the wonderful like-minded people of the local community. The event, based on the feedback from the participants, was overwhelmingly successful!

With the organization of a very successful event, Girls in Tech Singapore is now looking forward to providing more opportunities for attendees to connecting with the local tech community.

Finally, we would like to thank all the Girls in Tech volunteers who helped to make this event a grand success!

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