Native Ethiopian Software Engineer Turned Social Entrepreneur to Raise Computational Thinkers

Betty Gronneberg led software engineers and directed a broad range of projects and initiatives while participating in planning, analysis and implementation of global solutions.By Carol J. Carter (HuffPost) |Betty  Gronneberg is the Founder and Executive Director of uCodeGirl, a non-profit organization that creates a pathway to technology careers for teen girls by tapping into their curiosity, skills, and potential. Last month, she spoke on the STEAM track at the 2017 GlobalMindED Conference in Denver, CO.

A native of Ethiopia, Betty has over 20 years of experience in the technology industry. In her role as a Software Engineering Manager, Betty led software engineers and directed a broad range of projects and initiatives while participating in planning, analysis and implementation of global solutions.

As a recipient of the prestigious Bush Foundation Leadership Fellowship, Betty Gronneberg is challenged to continuously think big and think differently. Her friends and colleagues describe her as “inspirational”. She enjoys connecting people and listening to their stories.

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GlobalMindED greatly values Betty’s accomplishments in diversifying the coding industry, and we wanted to dig deeper in order to find out more.

What is your background, and how did it influence your career?

My love affair with the world of coding, the global language of the future, started when I was a 2nd year student at Addis Ababa University in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I was a teen girl majoring in Statistics—determined to make formulas, numbers, and probabilities my friends—when I was selected to participate in the country’s first-ever offering of a Computer Science degree. I had never touched a computer before then, never mind programming one.

It was a rough start. I struggled when operating the boxy, tube-like IBM machine, a DOS based terminal attached to a processor that pre-dates the AS/400 series. We used BASIC to write GOTO loops and conditional statements, and much more. I might have crashed the system with never ending loops; I am not telling. We eventually graduated to more sophisticated languages like Fortran and PASCAL. That was my tipping point—I never went back to the field of Statistics.

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How did you become interested in social capital?

In Africa, we say it takes a village. In America, we call it, Social Capital. Even though my parents grew up with scarce educational resources, which limited their exposure and access to opportunities to further their schooling, they worked tirelessly so that I could advance mine. They championed, encouraged, and supported me to stand on their strong shoulders, so I could see farther and reach higher, for us all. I went on to build the first United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UN-ECA) website and earn my Masters of Science degree in Software Engineering from North Dakota State University (NDSU). I strongly believe in the proverb, “education is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere.” A lot of people helped me acquire this treasure. Now, it is time to give back.

Continue reading this story at HuffingtonPost

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