the second day of queertech conference Last week in Toronto, Harshej Dhami, a 17-year-old machine learning researcher and founder of Codespire, and Andy Saldana, chief operating officer and co-founder of Qwertech, talked about Dhami’s journey in the tech world and how he came to build the technology. Is doing. Addressing gaps in access to education.
Codespire is a non-profit organization providing technical education to underprivileged youth. Dhami said that after realizing she was not the only girl to be sidelined in computer science and robotics education, she wanted to do something for her community.
“There are many more students who are in even more challenging situations who don’t have access to this simply because of the labels that society has inevitably placed on them,” she said.
codespire Works in partnership with existing youth organizations and youth homeless shelters to deliver in-person and online education, through workshops covering programming, digital design and digital literacy.
partnered with the company boys and girls club canadalargest after-school program in Canada, as well as Canada Learning Code, the nation’s largest coding advocacy organization. So far Codespire has reached out to over 15,000 youth.
Dhami said Codespire initially focused on coding and programming, but after visiting vulnerable communities and seeing the need for other skills, the program has evolved.
“In my first workshop homeless youth, a youth homeless shelter in Etobicoke, I noticed that the students didn’t even know how to use Google Docs. And it was a shock to me, because it is a new paper. And these students did not know the future paper.”
He added that Codespire is looking to host an event for students in December that allows them to come and explore different technologies in person while talking with industry professionals.
Apart from Codespire, Dhami has ventured into other projects as well.
About a year ago, when DMZ, Toronto Metropolitan University’s business incubator for early-stage technology startups, hosted a hackathon hack against hateA four-day national competition where Canadians aged 15-29 were invited to build a prototype for a digital solution that prevents hate crimes, Dhami wanted to look at hate crimes affecting LGBTQ+ communities .
“I’ve never been to a Pride parade, mainly because I’m afraid of the hate that can happen at a Pride parade, and I realized there are so many stories of hate crimes happening, and it’s very shocking to me.” How could a safe place be so unsafe for this community?” he said.
Dhami and his business partner, Samantha Oyang, created a tool called PredDetect to help keep Pride parade attendees safe and feel safe. Dhami prototyped an app that uses safe zone mapping and distress signalling. It also took into account the population of the areas where the parade was being held. He and his partner observed that the higher the population, the higher the prevalence of hate crimes.
Dhami and his colleagues were one of the winning teams of the hackathon. Going forward, she is looking to partner with Pride Parade to further develop the tool. She is passionate about making technology and education accessible to all communities, and seeks to do so through her work and projects.
“I really resonate with the focus of this whole conference on access to technology, but it’s such a huge issue… We’re making all these interesting advances in technology, but it’s only going to widen this gap between those serving those who don’t have it and getting richer and richer… how do we make sure that every single person on earth has the same quality of life and the same starting point it’s so difficult knowing their social constraints and Then how do we get them access to self-driving vehicles, crypto, blockchain technology and things like that.”