The recipients of the Parker Skiba Endowed Presidential Memorial Scholarship were named today. The four recipients are Erika Tan, Riddhi Bhave, Ethan Houston and Tracy Zhang.
Erika Tan is a rising freshman in the Turing Scholars computer science program. Although her magnet program schedule in high school prevented her from taking more computer science classes than she would have liked, she self-studied and created side projects of her own with friends, such as a Chrome extension for the visually impaired and an automated Parkinson’s detection system. She also contributed to an open source mobile app called PowerUp for an organization founded by Anita Borg, for which she was recognized as one of the 50 Google Code-In international grand prize winners in 2017. In addition to working on projects, she also likes to teach others through her YouTube channel called Tangerine Education and her joint webapp project on automating the translation and dubbing of educational videos on YouTube. In the future, Erika hopes to be work in the field of natural language processing and to help increase accessibility to education.
Riddhi comes from a family of technology consultants and software engineers, and always knew that she wanted to pursue computer science. She realized how powerful computer science can be if used correctly. Drawing on the experiences of her family in India, she envisions using her technical skills to change lives – from creating new medical devices to making education more accessible. Riddhi has interned at the University of Pennsylvania where she was tasked with helping convert traditional computer sciences courses into online courses. During the summer of 2017, Riddhi interned at NASA. Her projects included finding efficient ways to collect data. Along with academic success in her studies, Riddhi is an active member in Women in Computer Science, Mobile App and Development, Texas Convergent, student organizations in the department. As a freshman, Riddhi participated in the College of Natural Sciences Freshman Research Initiative’s Robot Learning Stream. Her personal projects include Phly App, an application that allows student to donate to a charity of choice with each transaction made. Riddhi writes, “I want to take advantage of all the great resources the computer science program has to offer and really make a difference in the world with the new skills I will learn.”
Ethan is a sophomore computer science major who embodies the entrepreneurial spirit. He combined his interest in fitness and technical skills to co-found WatShout. The company makes a GPS running watch that allows runners to leave their phone behind. The running watch plays music and tracks workouts through all the popular apps while still being connected on the cellphone network. Ethan has served as the company’s software engineering manager in addition to being its co-founder. Ethan has grown up around the world, splitting his time between 6 countries across 3 continents. Using his fluency in Mandarin, Ethan created an application directed at the Chinese market, Jiaohuan, for exchanging business cards. In Summer 2019, Ethan interned at Iodine Software in Austin, Texas. When not creating companies or applications, Ethan enjoys photography, running, and lifting weights.
Tracy Zhang is a junior computer science student minoring in business. She serves as the student writer for the UTCS Department, the communications director for the Texas Undergraduate Research Journal, and technical director of the Journal of Law and Technology at Texas. Tracy’s personal projects include creating Common Cents, a chrome extension that aims to curb impulsive purchases and excessive spending by replacing prices on any webpage with more tangible items. For example, the equivalent cups of coffee demonstrate the price of a ring. Additionally, Tracy created a Stock Visualization application as a participant in Goldman Sach’s Engineering Essentials Program. Tracy will serve as Technical Chair of Women in Computer Science and will be tasked with organizing a two-day hackathon. A native Arizonian, Tracy enjoys drawing and graphic design, exploring new technologies, and roaming the great outdoors.
The Parker Skiba Endowed Presidential Memorial Scholarship was created in memory of Parker Skiba, who passed away tragically in December 2017 while he was a student in the Computer Science program at the University of Texas at Austin. The scholarship program seeks to award students with entrepreneurial ambitions assistance with academic costs.