#WomeninSTEM · #WomeninTech · Computer Science · Technology · women who reign

Women Who Reign: Anshita Saini

“To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science.” -Albert Einstein 


Tell us about yourself along with a fun fact! 
Hey there! I’m Anshita Saini, a rising senior at Interlake High School in Bellevue, WA. Since the age of five, I’ve been immersed in art as an avid learner of both Hindustani classical music and kathak, a form of Indian classical dance, in addition to picking up the flute.

Though I have always been entranced by art, my experiences through middle school and high school have sparked my growing interest in rocketry and computer science too.

In middle school, I joined my school’s rocketry club by chance, where I captained a team of rocketeers through the Team America Rocketry Challenge to placing 16th at the National Finals! Inspired by the unique allure of rockets, I went on to become President of Interlake High School’s Rocketry Club, began prototyping a machine learning app to predict a rocket’s altitude, and am conducting astrophysics research in the summer of 2020. I truly cannot wait to see what else I can explore in this remarkable field!

Through my explorations in singing, dancing, and science, I’ve loved being able to pioneer a vision, armed with the tools of code, my voice, and my body movements. I also have visions for my community as well; I hope to bring art and science to those who may not have had the opportunity to explore these fields. Through my work as the Founder and President of Code4Care, Co-Founder of InSync, and Vice President of She Codes Art, I’ve had the privilege of impacting thousands of students by teaching coding and singing, while fundraising for underprivileged populations. Seeing students that once felt intimidated and often bored by the idea of coding or STEM becoming enthusiastic about the projects we teach motivates me to continue extending my impact to nations around the world. Beyond direct impact through my teaching, I’m a researcher at the University of Washington’s Ubiquitous Computing Lab where I’m currently working on detecting stroke symptoms simply by analyzing a recording of a person’s face, and previously co-authored a research paper on quantifying upper-body activities through sonar sensing. These projects will make healthcare more accessible, influencing thousands of people.

Fun fact – on some sunny days, you can find me out at a park throwing backflips off benches! 

kathak

What hashtag (#) describes you/defines your life goals or life journey?
#unitingopposites

What are your favorite websites, apps, or other tech tools?
My favorite website has to be HubbleSite, which features the discoveries of the Hubble Space Telescope. Images of space both strike me as picturesque masterpieces of art and depictions of the limitless exploration available in our world.
I also love the website This I Believe, a collection of stories from people of all walks of life. For me, reading about the values that people have discovered through their one-of-a-kind experiences attests to the significance of introspection and self-awareness.


Who is someone who inspires you? What knowledge has this person imparted?
I never truly understood the meaning of “insatiable curiosity” until the week before Christmas Day a few years ago, when my younger brother wrote down a ‘3D printer’ on his wish list for Santa. I started watching my brother closely from that day on, noting how he could stay focused on exploring our Arduino kit for hours, observing his complete engrossment in the NOVA programs we watch on Friday nights, perceiving his tendency to become entirely oblivious to the world while he took apart my old robots. He always comes to me with questions and ponderings, ranging from how to build his smart glass with Raspberry Pi to whether building a fort with plywood is a feasible idea. The spark of wonder that I see in his eyes when he leans over my shoulder while I work on any art or rocketry project, inspires me every single day. It motivates me to continue to explore my passions, to take advantage of the opportunities that are given to me to do so, and most importantly, to never stop questioning the world’s workings.

What song makes you want to dance, gives you courage to face the day, or makes you feel strong?
“Vacation” by Still Woozy – mentions the struggles of song writing and how “reification” – the art of turning the abstract into something concrete – is “right up the road,” reminding me of how I will soon be able to make my visions into a reality if I continue working day by day!


Describe a challenge you faced or a crossroads in your life that defined your path.

As an Indian kathak dancer, I always struggled with bringing emotion into my dance. Footwork patterns came easily to me and I could naturally count out certain beats at a fast pace, but when it came to portraying anger or sadness, I simply couldn’t express these feelings with my body. My dance was empty and I was truly frustrated.

Because of this frustration, I began feeling that my passion for classical art conflicted with my other STEM passions. I remember thinking that being a dancer or an astrophysicist were two separate options; I never thought that I could be both. My black-and-white thinking was extremely limiting to my growth, both in STEM and art. As I watched videos of my dancing over and over again, I began to see that the mathematics of kathak, was not ‘art’ without expression and connection. The movements of the body and the connection of a dancer to the audience through the slightest expressions elevate simple footwork to dance.

In order to be a better artist or a mathematician, there is an element of creativity that transcends simple logic. As I found kathak to be more of an overlap between STEM and art, I learned to merge my approach, realizing that the correctness and logic of mathematics in kathak, as well as the interpretive aspect of expression must come together to create meaningful dance. When we combine disparate fields, we learn to merge disparate thinking. I’ve found that it is only by being interdisciplinary that I can come up with new ideas and forge my own path.

SheCodesArt Conference

Describe your ideal job.
Choosing an ideal job seems almost impossible to me because I have many passions that I would like to continue exploring for the rest of my life! I’d love to continue research at the forefront of astrophysics through my college career and beyond. Through it all, I hope to continue transforming the music industry with artificial intelligence while helping young, underprivileged children discover the magic of merging art and technology in my community.


What knowledge would you impart to women in order for them to REIGN their lives?

Continue exploring at any age. Don’t limit yourself to one passion because others tell you that you can only fit into one category. If you are interested in both art and STEM, there are so many careers where you can combine these and you can fulfill your goals in both fields! As you keep pursuing varying passions, you’ll become a strong thinker who can appreciate diverse viewpoints. In the end, your journey is defined by YOU and how you choose to ideate, merge, and act, so be sure to hold on to your passions, rather than following someone else’s path.

Technovation Team

Anshita has received multiple awards and recognitions: 
2020 Astrophysics Researcher at Summer Science Program
2019 International Semifinalist for Technovation, 1st place in region, built an app to combat vaping addiction
2020 International 4th Place Winner at Future Problem Solvers
2020 National 4th Place for Presentation Component of The America Rocketry Challenge
2020 NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Washington Award Winner
2019 State Bars Champion for XCEL Gymnastics


Connect with Anshita!
Instagram – @_anshita_saini
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/anshita.saini.921
GitHub – anshitasaini

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