A Q&A with a 16-year-old tech whiz
This week Electronic Specifier interviewed Lili Nazer, an incredibly talented teenager from Budapest, Hungary. She has already created five applications which assist people in day-to-day tasks, worked with both Microsoft and Prezi, and received the Oracle Young Talent Award.
What sparked your interest in STEM?
It started around the time that I was nine years old. My mum was organising summer camps for me, I normally went to a different one each week as both my parents were working, but she accidently left one week empty.
Everywhere she called was full, except one. The only one left with availability was Robotics Camp, something I knew nothing about. Not knowing about programming scared me, but so did the fact that ten out of twelve participants were boys.
At first, I was a bit nervous to speak up in this environment of nearly all boys, as well as having no experience. But after the week finished, I was shocked because I loved it.
How did you learn to programme after your initial interest was piqued?
After the camp, I went on to complete a workshop called Skool.
It’s a non-profit organisation which teaches young girls in Budapest to improve their IT skills by teaching them to programme.
I went to an 11 week course, where I met my first mentor. I started learning coding languages. After that, I went to courses with boys and felt more confident so became a mentor, teacher and speaker at certain events.
What are some of the projects you have worked on so far?
I have made five apps in total. Every project of mine involves wanting to find solutions for a global or local problem.
The first is called Daily Take Me, for family scheduling. I won a competition for this app with UPC future makers, and then they invited me to Dublin for an IP exhibition.
My second application was a game called Smiling Tooth, to teach children about dental hygiene. I made that one in a team for a competition called Technovation. We made it to the semi-finals.
I also participated in that competition, alone, with a project called Granny’s Pills. That’s a virtual pillbox for elderly or ill people.
During COVID, my sister had an idea for an app which I made happen. It’s an application for elderly people and lonely kids in quarantine. It would match them by their interest in different topics, and they could help each other just by talking.
My application, B.A.B. stands for ‘bees against bullying.’ It’s an experiment which shows the effects of bullying as opposed to when you say nice things.
I also made an application for my school on their website to help students with their timetables.
Do you feel any pressure in being so young?
It can be a bit odd, I mentored university students for a Prezi workshop. The students were making applications and I was helping them. I think that they were surprised but I’m used to this.
I like to be busy, I’m always trying to find new opportunities. I think that education is one of the most important things.
I’m also very competitive – I used to do professional sports, so I don’t often feel the pressure.
I also like the experience of competing because a few years after winning UPC future makers, I ended up there again as a judge.
What advice would you give to younger people, especially girls, wanting to pursue STEM?
What I love about IT is that there are so many different areas, and so many new things to try that you’ll never get bored. If you don’t know the area yet, don’t worry. Even in my case, I know I want to study IT at university but don’t know the specific area yet.
Just keep trying and you’ll improve yourself. Don’t be shy, learn and study.