Stuyvesant Hosts a Google Panel for Computer Science Education Week

Stuyvesant’s computer science department recently hosted a Google panel, featuring four members of Google who shared aspects of their careers.

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Stuyvesant hosted a panel of four Google employees on December 13 in the Murray Kahn Theater. Organized by computer science teachers James Dillon and Izagma Alonso and moderated by sophomores Alex Panas and Tamiyyah Shafiq, the panel featured Andrew Myers, Catherine Liang, Benjamin Taubenblatt, and Pratik Worah, who discussed their educational backgrounds, career paths, and current positions at Google. The presentation was followed by a brief Q&A, in which the audience submitted their questions through a Google Form.

The event was organized as part of CSEdWeek, a yearly initiative of computer science educators and technology organizations to help students learn about various career opportunities within the computer science field. “[Google] had a pool of volunteer Googlers who were available for various CSEdWeek activities,” Dillon said in an e-mail interview. “My goal with the panel was to bring stories from tech professionals to our students. […] All of our panelists told stories of perseverance and hard work that many of our students found inspiring.”

Liang, Taubenblatt, Myers, and Worah first discussed their different work backgrounds and areas of expertise related to computer science. Liang and Taubenblatt are both software engineers: Liang’s team focuses on the Android System UI, while Taubenblatt’s work centers around the speech recognition infrastructure used in products such as Google Assistant. As a network architect, Myers focuses more on networking systems and improving the efficiency of data transfers. Worah is a senior research scientist who utilizes his PhD background in theoretical computer science to work on algorithms, probability theory, and AI at Google.

In their presentation, the panelists wanted to give students an opportunity to learn more about what a career in tech could potentially look like. “I wanted to help advocate for computer science education, so that students can understand [the] career options available to them in tech,” Liang said in an e-mail interview.

The panelists who spoke about their different positions at Google informed students about departments that attendees were formerly unaware of. “I learned that Google has a lot of different departments that don’t necessarily have to do with coding,” junior Qi Wang said. “It kind of showed me that you don’t have to be [a] full-on computer science nerd to get into Google.”

For many attendees, this diversity in panelists made the presentation especially informative and appealing. “The panelists represented not only different age groups but also different [directions] they decided to go with their careers,” Panas said. “Hearing from all these different people in all their diverse fields gave a really good perspective to all the people there.”

Some students related to the presenters’ stories and were inspired to follow a similar career pathway. “[Liang resonated with me] because she didn’t really get into any big summer programs. Because that’s probably something that would happen to me, like not getting into any summer internships and just making projects, it’s interesting to know that there’s still a pathway for me to get into Google by doing that,” Wang said.

Though the panelists gave advice specifically targeting a future at Google, they also dug deeper into their personal experiences, inspiring attendees in other facets of life. “[The presentation] kind of made me realize that people try to focus on studying one thing or being dead set on what you want to be, but life is about more than just doing one thing,” junior Jason Qin said.

Overall, the event had a large turnout, mainly consisting of students interested in learning more about the future of and work experiences in the computer science field. “Between 150 and 200 students attended. I was really satisfied with the turnout, especially considering it took place during the school day and not after school,” Dillon said.

The administration also believed that the panel proved to be successful in providing connections for students who might have any concerns in the future. “The panelists stayed afterwards to talk with students individually for 30 minutes. All of the panelists [also] offered to stay in touch with students via e-mail,” Dillon said. “One piece of advice that permeated the event was that, to be successful, you should create a professional network. The presenters walked the walk, as they say.”