Khalia Braswell is a computer scientist and founder of INTech Camp for Girls. After starting as a user experience engineer for Apple, she quit her job and moved to her hometown of Charlotte, NC, to run her non-profit full time. "Discovering You: Engineering Your World" is produced by NBC News Learn in partnership with Chevron, the American Society for Engineering Education and the National Science Foundation.
Discovering You – Engineering Your World – Khalia Braswell
It could be a cool aspect of the game.
I am Khalia Braswell and I am the founder and executive director for INTech Camp for Girls. When I was in the second grade, we moved from Rocky Mount, North Carolina, which is a super small town, to Charlotte, North Carolina, which is bigger, has more opportunities. And my mom did that with that in mind. We got our first computer when I was in the fourth grade. And so it was then that kind of changed my life. I got hooked into programming, and I literally was like, "All right, this is what I want to do." So I went to NC State and majored in computer science.
After I got to UNC-Charlotte, I had the opportunity to actually intern at Apple at their headquarters as a user experience engineer and I loved it. I learned a ton on the job and decided that was the path that I wanted to go down. I finished my masters, and then went back to Apple to continue that same career path.
I was at Apple for about a little over maybe half a year, and I don't know, it just, I really got excited when I came back to attend our INTech summer camps in the summer of 2017. I had to make that decision, right? Do I continue to work in tech, or do I actually run my organization called INTech? But it's just something that I just couldn't ignore, the passion that I have for the organization.
INSTRUCTOR: Each one is a different color to make it easier for you to grab it.
BRASWELL: We host informal learning experiences through one-day camps, summer camps or one-hour minicamp experiences where we go into classrooms and teach students about technology.
I think if you change that space to arrows.
What motivated me to come up with this brand and this identity was the lack of women that I saw in the technology field. And I was like, all right, well, this can be me making a change in this industry. You're more likely to go down a certain path if you have that inspiration and so mentorship is super important in that and we bake that into INTech in an informal way, by having women of color teaching our courses or sharing their stories.
INSTRUCTOR: You can control how Adrianne is moving about the screen.
BRASWELL: We decided to launch a high school program. It's a nine week program where we kicked it off with Facebook's Engineer for the Week program, which is a national competition where our girls are building games about social change.
INTECH CAMPER: Our game is about equality and we have three topics within equality and they are racism, sexism, and educational equality. Our goal for the game is to just teach people about different ways to approach a situation.
BRASWELL: Going into engineering is cool because you can literally think of an idea and make it happen. Whether it's an app or you're actually building something physical, you can literally think of it and find things you need to make it happen and that's so amazing.
"You are role-playing a turtle. You can only move forward and only turn left. Remember, be the turtle."
The students listen to their teacher's instructions and dutifully turn to their laptops, where the challenge awaits. On the screen is a small white box and a small black turtle, and next to it a larger box appears to type in their code. The room fills with clicking sounds and hushed whispers as the students get to work on their challenge: Program the turtle to move along the square path.
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