But Tech Day isn’t just about fun and games. The event was designed for students who may not have regular access to technology classes at their schools. The students who attend Tech Day have very little experience in technology and computing, but they might leave the event inspired to pursue a new career path.
Software engineer Matthew Dierker started Tech Day in 2016, based on a similar event at his alma mater. He started his university’s program along with a friend at the University of Illinois, and decided to bring the idea to the Bay Area. “I thought it’d be a natural fit here, given the large number of passionate engineers in Silicon Valley, plus I like organizing stuff,” he says. “I gathered a few friends and that effort found a good home in Google’s engEDU initiative.”
User experience designer Bingying Xia says she volunteers at Tech Day because she’d like to let students know that there’s more to tech than computer science. “The world also needs smart, creative designers to find user problems and come up with innovative design solutions,” she says.
Even if students aren’t interested in pursuing a career in the industry, one of Tech Day’s biggest goals is to make technology seem less intimidating. “Technological skills apply to any job, even outside of the technology industry. Tech isn’t all sitting at a desk in front of a computer,” Matthew says. “If that inspires enough curiosity to keep someone learning, the skills they learn will almost certainly be useful regardless of what they wind up doing.”
Organizers and volunteers really invest themselves during Tech Day to give students as much knowledge as they can, but they learn a lot from the students, too. Melaena says student feedback has informed how Tech Day has changed over the years. Volunteer Volker Grabe, a software engineer at Waymo, says he notices kids speak their minds more as the day goes on and they realize the day isn’t as tough or competitive as they expected.
Their main takeaway from the students? They’re curious about tech and excited to learn outside the classroom. “I saw raw passion, curiosity, and excitement in the students,” says volunteer Hannah Huynh, a product design engineer. “I was impressed that these students were so dedicated to give up their weekend to learn about engineering.”
More than 400 high school students participated in Google’s annual Tech Day through interactive STEM activities meant to empower them.