What can six high school girls from Central Asia teach blockchain experts? Quite a lot, as it turns out.

But during a job shadowing program, the 17-year-old TechGirls, on a visit courtesy of a U.S. government sponsored tour, gained just as much during a day-long stop at Block.one’s Blacksburg, Virginia, office recently.

For the nine Block.one presenters who ran the workshops, a first lesson was the realization that while their guests could already code in C++, they were from countries that are not actively implementing, teaching or researching blockchain technology.

But that hasn’t stopped the six – two from Kazakhstan, two from Tajikistan, one from Kyrgyzstan and another from Uzbekistan – who showed an avid interest in what blockchain might mean for undiscovered tech applications and for their future careers.

Ruhia, Aizhuldyz, Bazieva, Jasmine, Karina and Sadiya were treated to a crash course on blockchain, the differences required for mobile application development between iOS and Android software, how UX designers work and where the new cybersecurity threats could emerge.

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, TechGirls connects and supports the next generation of women leaders in STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering, Math – and this year began focusing on girls from Central Asia.

Block.one was one of the STEM companies that signed up to participate in TechGirls.

“Encouraging young women to explore STEM careers is not about convincing them that we need more women in these respective fields, but rather, that they’re just as capable as the young men entering the workforce,” said Tara Tritt, a web developer for Block.one, who gave advice from her early career days.

Here are three lessons we learned from hosting this year’s TechGirls:

  1. New eyes can bring fresh ideas on using blockchain technology

    Our young visitors had little to no exposure to blockchain, having heard of it only in the context of cryptocurrencies. But within an hour of an introduction, the TechGirls were brainstorming on a variety of uses in their home countries: maintaining hospital records, owning their data, sharing sensitive information among military channels, deterring corporate espionage. They even thought through how to create a mobile app called Find My Puppy from start to finish that would allow a user to upload a photo of an available dog, mapped to the location of the user, and complete with a map and directions for the puppy seeker to find the perfect furbaby.

  2. Creativity and engineering don’t clash

    Blockchain and many STEM disciplines can seem dry and dusty. But the TechGirls found an exercise during the UX Design workshop was anything but – they were asked to use colorful sticky notes to write down words, ideas, tools needed for someone to communicate with another digitally. The end goal? To find out how UX can use communications to enhance the experience of the user.

    “You don’t have to give up the creative aspect of problem-solving to enter into the world of STEM,” said John MacMenamin, Director of UX.

    The girls had an opportunity to see how art, drawing, color and creativity could make them better engineers and mobile developers.

  3. Block.one beats Big Brands

    We don’t want to brag (OK, maybe just a little…), but the best endorsement we received from this session was the TechGirls unanimously voting to work for us over big brands.

    When asked what they enjoyed most about spending the day with our Blacksburg team, here’s what several of them said:

    “I loved everything, from all of the workshops and inspirational discussion with Tara Tritt,” said Sadiya Abbasova of Uzbekistan.

    “The best people work at Block.one,” echoed Jasmine Yulchieva of Tajikistan, “I really enjoyed the great conversations with everyone.”

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Photo Courtesy of Virginia Tech

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