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Google's newest recruit challenges Computer Science's image
A dream job with Google and a thriving side-line as a motivational speaker are just the start of University of Sussex graduate Wilfrid Obeng’s mission to solve computer science’s image problem.
Wilfrid, who graduates today (Thursday 21 July) with a BSc in Computer Science, wants to shake off the subject’s ‘nerdy’ image by showing kids the people behind the cool tech in their pockets.
He says: “Young people do not think computer science is cool but they think the apps and games on their phone are amazing. These are all made by computer scientists!"
“There is that disconnect and that needs to be fixed.
“Computer science really is just problem solving. That’s it. You just learn theory that you apply to problem solving.”
Young, trendy and with broad interests across the arts, science and sport, Wilfrid is often told he doesn’t “look like somebody who does computer science”.
“What does that mean? That’s flat out wrong,” he says. “That’s why I’m very passionate about doing diversity and inclusion.”
Under the guise of his new social enterprise, Limitless, he goes back into schools like his to persuade kids – and particularly girls and other under-represented groups - not to limit themselves too early in their lives.
He says: “If you don't see yourself there, if you can’t see someone you know or who looks like you there, subconsciously you think there’s a problem.”
Born in Wembley, Wilfrid was the first member of his family to move away to university. Like most challenges in his life, he took it in his stride.
He says: “To be honest, the jump between A-level and university wasn’t as bad as the one between GCSE and A-level. I enjoyed the freedom.
“The biggest challenge was all of the different people who are not necessarily from the same kind of economic background as you.
“Although they say things you might not agree with, you can also challenge things. I feel like it helped me stretch myself.”
Within a year of starting university, he had been named one of the top 10 black students in the UK by Rare Rising Stars 2014.
Tech giants Google spotted the potential in the passionate 21-year-old during two internships with the company. They snapped him up for a permanent post in Dublin before he’d even graduated.
So, the next time technology makes your life a little bit easier, think of Wilfrid and the other professional problem solvers who made it happen.
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