June 27, 2014
Computer science student selected for Google retreat
Computer science student Kody Dillman spent four days at the Googleplex in California this summer brainstorming with other students and developing software to help engage people in science and engineering.
Dillman is one of 13 scholars across North America to receive a 2014 Google Lime Scholarship for computer science students who have a disability. Those winners along with dozens of other winners of other Google scholarships for women, veterans, young people and minorities attended the Google Scholars' Retreat June 18 to 21.
“They really wanted us to look at how to make engagement and outreach effective,” says Dillman. “And it was neat, because coming from these groups that are basically under-represented, we all had kind of a unique spin on what that would mean for us.”
As well as the brainstorming, the students took part in a “hack-a-thon” to create software that could get more people engaged in science, technology engineering and math (STEM). Dillman’s group won “most creative” for their software, an interactive story about a monster that’s aimed at little kids.
"The child provides basic instructions to get the monster from one place to another in a grid. It could be as simple as moving the monster two spaces to the right and one down to get to the goal,” says Dillman. “They are creating a very simple algorithm but they don’t know it, so this gets them into that logical way of thinking that’s involved in those fields.”
Dillman, who concentrates in human-computer interaction, finishes his undergraduate degree this coming December. His major project has looked at how people use computers to work together and how to better use videoconferencing technologies. He has anxiety and depression, which are considered “invisible” disabilities and he thinks it’s great that Google is trying to “de-stigmatize disability” through this and other programs.
Before going to the retreat, Dillman met the other scholars online and now that the retreat is over, Google is keeping in touch with the students and their outreach ideas. He loved the corporate culture and hopes the retreat has “opened some doors” to working at Google someday.
“This place is fantastic,” he says. “The retreat was one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life. I was able to make some good connections and meet some people I want to work with."