Amy Czuchlewski is a member of the Bold Idea Board of Directors and also serves as a mentor for our CS First program. Skilled in mobile technologies and building effective engineering teams, Amy is the VP of Engineering at Bottle Rocket.
Bringing her passion for equitable access to computer science education, especially among girls, she is a strong asset to the Bold Idea team.
What is something many people don't know about you?
I come from a family of computer wizards. My dad was a systems administrator (cool story - back in the 50's he was working in yards & grounds at Kellogg's and they were looking for young guys to learn about computers so with no college degree he worked in IT at Kellogg's for 43 years!), my sister taught high school computer science, my brother was a database administrator, and my mom was an administrative assistant and we all know that they are the ones who really know how all the computers really work in an office.
How did you become interested in technology and programming?
My dad had a computer in our basement, and I used to spend time down there teaching myself to program it using BASIC. I didn't realize that what I was doing was actually "programming", I was just making graphics and setting them to music. Eventually I took an aptitude test in high school that said computer programmer would be a good career for me, and the pieces just fell into place.
What did you study in college?
I have a bachelor's degree in Computer Engineering from the University of Michigan.
What are you working on now?
I am the VP of Engineering at Bottle Rocket, a mobile/connected device specialist that defines, designs, and develops applications that connect future-focused brands to their customers. Our more than 350 iOS, Android, wearable, AR/VR, voice, web, and TV experiences have set new standards in connecting people to what they want and are redefining how they live their lives. To learn more, visit us at bottlerocketstudios.com. I'm incredibly lucky that I get to do what I love, every day!
What have you gained from being a mentor? What was your most memorable moment while mentoring?
I love spending those two hours every week with my daughter, sharing something I love with her and getting her excited about coding. One of the coolest things that's happened for me while mentoring is that we have this one student in the CS First program, a girl, who is by far the most talented coder in the group and everyone knows it. The rest of the children (even the boys) go to her for help and I think that is just amazing to watch.
Is there anything that you wish you could tell your younger self about coding?
Coding is just like solving puzzles - it's fun!
What is it about Bold Idea's mission that really connects with you?
I read that 99% of parents want their children to learn computer science but only 40% of schools in Dallas actually offer it in the curriculum. I think its great that Bold Idea is working with schools, community centers and local area tech companies to expand the reach and make computer science education accessible to more of our students here in the Dallas area. Not only is it helping build future technologists in our students, but it is creating a community among the mentors as well!