One of the Intertech Foundation’s focuses is the inspiration of young people towards the building of science, engineering, and technology skills. To further that pursuit, the Foundation has selected four STEM scholarship winners for 2020, each excelling in Math and Science, just graduated from high school, and pursuing college studies in computer science.
Amazed by the drive, inspiration, and accomplishments of these young individuals, picking among so many qualified applicants is always a struggle. But this year’s selection took on additional meaning for us. Amidst COVID-19, the 2020 graduating class has faced numerous challenges and unprecedented situations. Yet despite it all, what came through in reading all of the applications was an unwavering excitement to take the next step and an unfailing commitment to pursue their goals. We all could learn a thing or two on resilience from this group of seniors, and we can’t wait to see where these qualities take them!
Our first two recipients, Emily Dahl and Sulaiman Bada have begun their journey. Next, we send off our third and fourth Intertech STEM scholarship winners; Annabelle Klosterman from South Dakota, and Reece Harding from Minnesota. Check out these ambitious, hard-working citizens that have stepped up and are now on their way to making this world a better place.
Congratulations to Reece Harding
Reece, a senior graduating homeschool student from Eagan, Minnesota, finished his senior year in Kaiserslautern, Germany, and will be attending a local community college for the first two years with plans to finish his degree at UW Madison. What stood out for us, along with his sensibility, was the initiative he displayed when building not one, but two e-commerce stores. The lessons learned are sure to carry him into the future with great success. His interest in trying new things and taking the hard-earned lessons to heart, while embracing the idea of improving the overall quality of life for people worldwide through technology, primarily machine learning and artificial intelligence, was inspiring. With Reece’s positive attitude and commitment to excellence, we are sure he will make a lasting impact for the good of all, and Intertech is proud to be a part of this.
Q: When did you first decide you wanted to be involved in Computer Science, particularly Artificial Intelligence?
I’ve been thinking about the role of Artificial Intelligence on the future of humanity and its future relationship with the world around us for a while, but for the majority of that time it was mostly in a philosophical sense, just pondering what I thought would happen and how the future would look. Then one day I was thinking and was just like “Why don’t I try to position myself so that I can be a part of this cohabition between humanity and AI. That would be pretty cool.” That was probably around 2 years ago, in 2018, and since then I have been pretty obsessed with AI and how it will change our future and how I can be a part of this future.
Q: What was the first program you ever wrote?
I didn’t actually start coding until around September of last year, 2019. The first decent program that I can remember writing was this game where the user had to move their mouse over an apple and once they touched the apple it would re-spawn somewhere else and a bunch of images of wolves would spawn in all over and the user had to avoid the wolves in order to get to the apple again.
Q: Which educational or extracurricular experiences during your k-12 years helped you decide on the field of Computer Science?
I never really was heavily exposed to computer science through my youth, as my parents tried to protect me from the more addictive features of the world of the internet, for which I will forever be grateful. But I always have philosophized about the future world of Earth from the books I’ve read. When I found out the absolute amazing power of the internet and computers through a class in seventh grade where we were made to race a calculator on various math problems, I just thought why on earth would humans be doing math when we are so clearly inferior to this other being. Since then I have just been absolutely obsessed with learning as much as I could about the capabilities and constraints of computers and AI, which all climaxed when I took AP Computer Science last year and finally began to code and to learn about how to program and teach these amazing devices.
Q: What school have you selected to attend?
I have decided to attend my local community college for this next year and then for the next 2-3 years to attend UW Madision
Q: Why did you decide on this school for your undergraduate education?
I plan on going to community college this year because I predict nearly all colleges and universities will go online, so the networking one would normally get from these prestigious universities will likely be diminished and the goal of this year will just be to get through the year and complete the required credits. I figured I may as well do this while working on projects on the side and save a boatload of money. After this year, I wold love to attend UW Madison because they have an amazing computer science program and I feel like I could meet so many awesome people there which will set me up for an amazing future.
Q: What is your dream job after college?
My dream career path after college would be to join a very respected company as an intern for either very low pay or even free (google, facebook, microsoft, or a rising startup whose founders I greatly respect) and learn as much as I can possibly learn from them over a year or two. Hopefully that role would morph into a substantial job/career at the organization. After I gain these skills for maybe five or so years, I likely would break off from the company to either start my own startup or join another AI centered startup centered around utilizing AI to solve monotonous tasks that we have to endure in our day to day lives.
Q: Would you be willing to share your thoughts about the value of the Intertech STEM scholarship to your academic journey?
The Intertech STEM scholarship will be absolutely huge for my future career and academic journey. I have been working my tail off this summer to earn money for college (12 hour+ days almost every day) and yet I still wouldn’t have been able to pay my way through even one year of University, so this scholarship will be incredible in helping me on my academic journey and my goal of graduating from college and university debt free. THANK YOU Intertech so very much, this scholarship means more than you could possibly know!
Q: Is there anything else you would like to share with others who may be considering a computer science career?
It seems pretty clear, to me at least, that computers and humanity will be inextricably linked for the foreseeable future and likely for the rest of our (humanity) existence on this planet, so anything you do in life will very likely be related to computers and AI in one way or another, whether it be directly or more of a tertiary. I predict that any career in the future will either be lumped in as either a computer heavy field or a “real life” field, and to me at least the computer field seems much more intriguing.
Q: Finally, please describe the two e-commerce stores that you set up and what you learned?
The two e-commerce stores I started were both retail arbitrage brands between China and America (and the other first world, English speaking countries — Canada, Australia and the UK). I would find under priced Chinese products that I thought could solve a problem back here, set up a website, run ads to that website through facebook and instagram, then once the customer bought the product, I would send the order to my contacts in China and they would ship the product straight from the factory to the person’s front door. However, I learned through this process that shipping all the way across the ocean to different countries can become a logistical nightmare if anything goes wrong, as it often did, and it would lead to mass refunds and just a massive headache overall. I’m super glad I did it though, it showed me the power of analytical tools through these social media brands and taught me the basics of consumer psychology and how to properly set up an eCommerce funnel.
Thank you, Reece, for applying for the Intertech STEM Scholarship. We look forward to hearing about many great things from you in the future!
Tom and Linda Salonek
Intertech Foundation, Intertech Inc.
2021 Intertech STEM Scholarship Recipients3>
2020 Intertech STEM Scholarship Recipients3>
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