Finding chemistry outside of chemistry
For many students, choosing a college major feels like finding your way in the dark — it’s scary, but sometimes you stumble upon great things. In this HOW (“Her Own Words”) column, Monse Castillo tells how some helpful resources and a willingness to try new things led her to the right place.
Identifying 'the ultimate package'
Tomi Babalola happened upon a college major that wraps together two things she loves — creativity and math — and that saved her from a career she never really wanted (dentistry!). In this HOW (Her Own Words) column, hear how she feels about her new career path.
Who would have guessed?
Imagine asking your sixth-grade self what they think of your chosen college major. That’s Charlotte Andry’s jumping-off point for this HOW (“Her Own Words”) column, which takes you through her journey as a tech student from high school to her current courses at UIC.
Letting go leads to discovery
Sometimes you find a natural home for your aptitudes in a place you never thought to look. In this HOW (“Her Own Words”) column, UIC student Linda Mansour explains how letting go of her initial conception of her academic trajectory led her to something better.
A clear view of medical tech at GE Healthcare
Five UIC students worked at the intersection of technology and health during their Sprinternship at GE Healthcare, which designs and manufactures MRI machines and other medical imaging equipment.
Programming, preparation, and poker at PEAK6
PEAK6, a financial services company in Chicago, offers its Break Through Tech Chicago Sprinterns™ a “can-do” work experience. You can program. You can work in a successful team. You can make lasting professional connections. And … you can bluff and bet with the best. Find out what a Sprinternship at PEAK6 was like for our summer 2022 team of five students.
CS 111 students ‘put it all together’ with micro-motion projects
UIC students taking their first computer science course, CS 111, put a tech spin on the classic Rube Goldberg-style machine. They each designed and programmed one component that could be linked to their classmates’ creations to make one giant chain reaction.
A degree program that speaks her language
Computing skills are important in so many fields. Finding the right area to apply them is a key part of planning your future work in tech. Danielle Cartagenes discovered at UIC that connecting technology and language was the right path for her.
17 companies tap UIC students to tackle tech challenges
If you don’t yet know our Sprinternship program, this UIC announcement — created to introduce our 2022 Sprinternship hosts — is a great primer. Read it to find out what Sprinternships are, why they’re crucial for future gender diversity in tech, and which 17 Chicago organizations are on the forefront.
Finding her people
For chemical engineering major Astrid Vargas, getting involved with Break Through Tech was her key to discovering a lifetime of possibilities—and a support system to match.
On course for change
UIC computer science alumna Devina Dhawan started Devi-Labs to see more women and nonbinary individuals pursue careers in tech. Read about what she believes will make the biggest difference in diversifying the field.
CS or linguistics? No more need to choose
UIC student Grace Pnacek is finding success where her interest in computer science crosses paths with her interest in language.
Maximizing a minor
The reasons to pick a computer science minor in college are as varied as the people who pursue them. Read about how the program is helping UIC junior Ashma Pandya to achieve her research-oriented goals.
Optimizing the internship experience
UIC students who did their Sprinternship at AbbVie, the Illinois-based pharmaceutical giant, had a chance to meet company executives while learning about the interconnection between tech and business.
Enhancing the tech behind the business of sports
U.S. Soccer brings one of the world’s most popular sports to this country. In May 2021, five UIC women brought a concept for a staff intranet to U.S. Soccer. Find out how this Sprinternship allowed the students to work on technology that supports a sports powerhouse.
Designing a network (and networking)
Sprinternships definitely can help your résumé. Can they also help Chicago communities? The five UIC students who held Sprinternships with Cisco Systems in 2021 can answer this question with a resounding “yes.”
Bringing out tech's musical side
Pianos: wood, strings, and metal? Not in the computer science division of UIC’s Engineering Expo. Three women showed how an instrument that has stood the test of centuries could be updated as a tech project.
It’s not just the work you do that’s important — it’s the place where you do it. Reem Jaghlit talks about the benefits of finding a workplace culture that celebrates you, no matter who you are (or who you want to be).
College: more than just class
Arpita Kumari details how involvement with a student organization at the University of Illinois Chicago provided the valuable insight that computing and technology were indeed the right place for her.
Advancing tech for the common good
Data scientist Fran Berman held an online visit with Break Through Tech Chicago participants and other UIC students to talk about the range of ethical and logistical issues that concern developers of autonomous vehicles.
Chicago organizations invest in the future of 115 Sprinterns
Chicago women and nonbinary individuals will get a head start on tech work experience in May 2021 thanks to these committed partner companies and organizations.
Knowing what's right
In this HOW (“Her Own Words”) column, computer science graduate student Johnnalee Kutzke breaks down her reactions to other people always pushing her away from tech.
In a flashback to childhood, the start of a career
Always a scientist and now a community college professor, Doris Espiritu has found ways to integrate technology into her own research and has opened up the process of data-driven investigation to new generations of young people.
Winter Guild 2021: For great tech, start with people
Sometimes, the best mobile app isn’t about the flashiest tech or the loudest bells and whistles. It’s about keen knowledge of the wants and needs of your app’s users. Winter Guild participants brainstormed their way to apps designed with real people in mind.
Cecilia Avila, UIC CS '20, wins GET Chicago Fellowship
Avila will work in a team to develop a technological solution for a challenge faced by underrepresented groups in tech, especially women. She is excited to make industry connections and experience the mentorship that comes with the fellowship.
A big “YES” to computer science changed my life
An unexpected conversation in her college academic advisor’s office changed the course of Naomi Kaduwela’s career. Read about that fateful day and the experiences at GE Healthcare and Kavi Global that followed.
Finding your power — and using it to lift others
In this column in our HOW series, Sarah Ather, a 2019 UIC computer science graduate, tells the powerful story of how she discovered that she needed tech and, perhaps more importantly, tech needed her.
Coding a gender remix for the next generation
Girls Who Code, a nationwide program for secondary school students, offered Gina Gerace a door into tech. Now she gives back to the program at UIC as a college-level mentor.
Break Through Tech Chicago announces strategic expert as new director
Amita Shetty, an experienced strategy executive at the rail leasing company GATX, seeks to create more space for women in technology in Chicago by achieving sustainable change at scale.
And you know what? I did it.
Heather Kuhn knows what it’s like to be the only woman in the room. It’s a situation that made her want to work harder and defy all odds.
Bringing the brains of tech to the heart of Chicago
In this first-person column, Nimeesha Chan talks about what it was like to work with students from all over the Chicago area on a city-wide challenge to improve economic opportunity and financial security.
Solving old problems with new tech
Food insecurity is a wide-ranging problem, affecting the people who need better access to food, the organizations that seek to provide that access, and more. Summer Guild participants considered how tech could help to address several of those aspects.
The computational power of the puff-ball cactus
In our inaugural HOW (in “Her Own Words”) column, Hilda Mendoza-Avila traces the roots of her interest in tech to a small town in northern Mexico called Santo Domingo.
Talk to me
In an exploratory UIC computer science course called CS 100, Break Through Tech Chicago students simulated a “network” to learn about the history of the internet.
Your roommate as cyber threat
Break Through Tech Chicago students explored “threat modeling” in the exploratory introductory computer science course CS 100.
That code sounds great!
Music can be code. Code can be music. Break Through Tech Chicago students enrolled in UIC’s exploratory computer science course, CS 100, discovered how.
Selected press clips
- Work/shift: Can microinternships help more women break into tech? 07.14.21
- CNET: Melinda Gates’ VC firm invests $50 million to boost diversity in tech across the US, 01.28.20
- Chicago Tribune: Melinda Gates wants more women involved in Chicago’s tech industry. And she’s putting money where her heart is. 01.28.20
- Forbes: Melinda Gates Names Chicago First Gender-Inclusive Tech Hub, 01.28.20
- Fortune: Why Melinda Gates is investing $50 million to make the next Silicon Valley—starting in Chicago, 01.28.20
- Chicago Sun Times: UIC receives major grant to boost women in computer science, 01.28.20