Roopal Kondepudi: From HTML & CSS to Android App Developer

Singapore Geek Girls started our workshops 4 years ago with HTML & CSS. Roopal was our youngest participant at 12 years old. Four years on, she’s come a long way from just basic front-end development! Now she’s working on building Android apps and has even started a Geek Girls Chapter at Singapore American School! We chat with her to find out her aspirations for the future and some tips for those interested in learning programming.

1) Give us a brief introduction of yourself! 
My name is Roopal Kondepudi, I’m 16 years old, and a high school senior at Singapore American School.

2) How did you get interested in programming?
My interest in programming began when I was ten – as a birthday present, I received Lego Mindstorms. The entire summer, I built robots and took them apart; I experimented with Mindstorms’s simple drag-and-drop programming. I loved that I could make my creations come to life with programming.

3) What have you learnt so far (in terms of programming) and what are some resources you think are helpful?
I’ve been a part of my school’s robotics team since I joined SAS in 2013. Through robotics, I’ve learned ROBOTC. My school also offers AP Computer Science, which is taught in Java. From there, I realized just how much I enjoy coding and continued to learn outside of class. I’ve taken online courses in Python, and currently am learning C through the Harvard CS50x course online. Over the summer, I had to learn SQL and XML for an Android app I was developing.

If a class or workshop isn’t readily available, MOOCs are a great way to learn programming. I like the format of online courses because if you forget something or need to review, you can just re-watch the lectures. A resource I used in APCS was CodingBat, which is available in Java and Python – it’s an online resource that allows you to practice writing functions and methods.

I recently learned about esoteric languages and code golf, where the programmer tries to do as much as possible in as few lines of code as possible. I really love learning about new languages and trying them out!

4) Tell us about the apps you’ve built so far 
The past two summers, I’ve been working with the NUS FloraSG team to create FloraSG, an app that allows users to input characteristics of a native Singapore plant and will output a list of possible plants complete with descriptions and pictures. I worked to improve database functionality (which is why I had to learn SQL) and added an Update Database function to the app. I learned a lot about android programming.

Here are some screenshots of the app:
5) Why did you start a Geek Girls club in your school and what do you hope to achieve with it?
When I was twelve, I saw an ad in the newspaper for a coding workshop led by the Singapore Geek Girls. Eager to get past my Mindstorms phase and begin coding in a “real language,” I attended, only to discover that I was the youngest girl there. At the workshop, I met Joyce, who helped me start a chapter at my high school. We’ve grown from one member to around twenty in two years and will be expanding to the middle school soon.

I’ve already started to see an improvement- more girls than ever are taking AP Computer Science, more girls are interested in majoring in CS, more girls joined robotics.

6) What activities do you run with Geek Girls? e.g, workshops? office tours….
This year, we have a lot of activities planned for Geek Girls. Every year we go on tours, invite speakers, and hold workshops. For example, we visited IDA labs and Microsoft in the past. We’ve also had a speaker, Ms. Meri Rosich, come to talk to us about her experiences as a woman in STEM. This year, we have a member whose mother works for Apple! She’s eager for us to set up a panel of other women who work at Apple, and I’m excited for that to happen.

7) What are your plans for your own future and Geek Girls in SAS?
As a senior in high school, I’ve begun my college application process. Wherever I end up going, I know for sure that I want to major in either Computer Science, Computer Engineering, or Data Science. As for Geek Girls, I’ve been fostering the younger members so that when I leave, they can keep the club going.

My knowledge and love for technology isn’t something I want to keep for myself. I would like to use it to help people who don’t have access to technology or the education to learn how to use it. My hope is that once people learn tech skills, they become independent and teach other, opening up opportunities.

Roopal will be applying for university soon and I’m sure her interest in Computer Science will take her far!