“I’m interested in things that change the world or that affect the future and wondrous, new technology where you see it, and you’re like ‘Wow, how did that even happen? How is that possible?’” – Elon Musk
Tell us about yourself along with a fun fact!
Hello, my name is Anne Chen, and I am a current sophomore CS/BEM (Business, Economics and Management) major at Caltech. I am a part time hacker: I take wisps of ideas and turn them into something tangible, whether it is an app or a website or a product. This hobby is further enabled by the abundance of hackathons, which are amazing opportunities for people of all different backgrounds and technical skills to come together to brainstorm new ideas. These ideas stand the chance of becoming reality by the end of a specified time frame. In fact, many important inventions and apps that we now use today might even be the result of ideas from a hackathon.
I am also a self proclaimed foodie. I enjoy new things – going to new places, eating new foods, meeting new people. In my free time, I enjoy exploring obscure parts of LA, taking long drives to the beach and taking Instagram-worthy food pics.
Fun Facts: My name is pronounced “Annie”, even though it’s spelled without the ‘i’. A certain Hackathon application once asked me an interesting question: “You have a sock, ice cubes and glasses. You are going to a party, and wish to leave your roommate a message saying that you’ll be home at ten. How will you do so?” I love these types of open ended, creative questions, and I can share my response: both ice cubes and glasses are plural, indicating the presence of more than one. Thus, my reaction would be to place the glasses inside the sock, and use the ice cubes to smash it into small pieces. Using the broken pieces, you then then piece out a legible message. 🙂
What # would define your life journey?
Favorite website / app:
TheOnion.com: The most reliable/useful daily news source 🙂
WSJ.com: The second most reliable/useful news source.
Yelp.com: The enabler of my unproductiveness/foodie dreams/spontaneous midnight drives.
Someone who inspires you and knowledge they have imparted:
One person I’ve always looked up to is Elon Musk. At a young age, he began his entrepreneurial ventures and even though his ideas may have sounded more like something out of a sci-fi movie than reality to everyone else, he never gave up on his goals. Instead of sticking to traditional ideas, he pursued goals such as making interplanetary life possible through colonization of other planets and building the Hyperloop. From him, I learned that no dreams are too big to dream and no task is too hard to undertake. He inspires me to keep moving forward and to always keep the innovation alive.
Challenge you’ve faced and how you overcame it:
Throughout all of high school, I convinced myself that chemical engineering and research were the fields I wanted to go into. After all, I was excelling in the subject – that must mean I enjoyed it, right? As I neared my senior year, I realized that I couldn’t see myself doing research for the rest of my life. The lab environment was interesting in a way, but also restricting in too many other ways. After taking a mixture of chemistry based classes and coding based classes in my first year at Caltech, I found myself more and more drawn towards the field of computer science. I was faced with the decision of continuing with chemical engineering, which I would have a strong background in, or starting from scratch in a whole new field. Ultimately, I decided to pursue Computer Science as my major. Learning to code has opened many new doors for me, proving to be versatile and applicable to almost every field.
Aside from Caltech’s notorious problem sets, the majority of my time is spent on a few programming projects, including building a PHP based website and Android app development. I plan to hone my technical skills and continue my entrepreneurial pursuits by starting my own tech company.
What knowledge would you impart to women in order for them to REIGN their lives?
I’d say that the most important thing is to find a path, a direction. Take a few and think about what it is that you want to achieve in the end. The first one may not be the right one, but having a goal to work towards and aim for is a place to start. Every once in awhile, take another few and reorient yourself and your goals. In a society where it is easy to succumb to outside pressures, don’t forget to stay true to yourself. Instead of what others want you to do, what do YOU want to do?
The second thing is to think outside the box and don’t be afraid to try new things. Have a crazy idea? Try it out. Innovation is the lifeblood of technology. If it doesn’t work? Tweak it and try again.
Start small but dream big. Don’t get discouraged if things don’t work out immediately – Rome was not built in a day. As Thomas Edison stated nicely, “I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that don’t work.”