At WWDC, Michelle Obama says diversity is key to innovation | Cult of Mac

At WWDC, Michelle Obama says diversity is key to innovation

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Michelle Obama at WWDC
Michelle Obama addressing Apple developers at WWDC.
Photo: Kenny Batista

This week, student Kenny Batista will be writing a diary from Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, California. Kenny won a coveted WWDC Scholarship, which includes food, lodging and VIP access.

SAN JOSE, California — Amazing first two days here at dub dub. Let me give you a detailed, eye-witness journal entry!

Today was Day 2 of WWDC. Former first lady Michelle Obama came in to speak on stage. She was truly inspirational. And Christine Darden, a NASA engineer portrayed in the book Hidden Figures, taught us all about supersonic airplanes.

NASA engineer Christine Darden
NASA engineer Christine Darden talks at WWDC.
Photo: Kenny Batista

Hidden Figures‘ Christine Darden on hard work and perseverance

NASA engineer Christine Darden — of Hidden Figures fame — told us about how she was one of the first female aerospace engineers at NASA. I learned more about supersonic airplanes than I ever knew before during her presentation. She was telling us about one of her greatest accomplishments — supersonic plane boom minimization.

There was a lot of “you can achieve anything with hard work and perseverance.” She talked about how she went to segregated schools until college. At first she worked at NASA’s Langley Research Center as a human computer where she basically worked in a room solving math equations, which were then passed to the engineers.

She wanted to be an engineer herself, but she was assigned to be a human computer, even when the other engineers had the same level of education as her. But she proved herself, and eventually she was assigned to sonic boom minimization.

Michelle Talks Diversity and Innovation

Michelle Obama was truly inspirational today. She gave her views on diversity and encouraged developers to collectively empower the world by making it a better place through technology.

On stage, she asked developers to innovate by building apps that also serve women.

She hinted how there was a huge market for applications for women, that ladies need apps that fill essential needs.

And I totally agree with her. A female student at my school — Y Combinator’s Make School — built and app for herself that allowed her to quickly and easily buy lipstick. Her name is Olivia Brown. She has uncovered an untapped market and has since received 250,000 downloads and has joined Facebook’s F6S incubator program.

Facebook doesn’t give her cash, but is giving her a space to build a startup out of her app. And she gets access to help from some of Facebook’s top, most-experienced employees who will help her scale up her app into a bigger business.

Back on stage, Michelle Obama was saying that if entrepreneurs want to reach a very large audience with whatever they’re building, they should start with their own community. They should start small, and not to try to target everyone immediately. Developers should help those that are the closest to us, to empower and help our communities get to where they want. And that by starting small and focusing on those close to us, we’ll learn how people really work and what people truly need.

That way, we’ll learn to build something that’s truly needed.

Her talk gave me the chills, it was very motivational.

Also, WiFi sucks here.

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