Like many of her teenage peers, Amy Liu grew up fascinated by technology. But she later realized her greater interest might be not as a user, but as a developer.
That passion for programming eventually led the Highland Park High School senior to a scholarship from The Flatiron School to build web and mobile applications for social change during an intense two-week summer program in Austin.
Liu traces her love for coding and web development to a computer programming class during her junior year.
“I’ve always been pretty tech-savvy, but I was pretty ignorant to what happened behind the screen,” Liu said. “It requires a lot of technical skill and logic, but also allows you to be really creative.”
Liu later joined the computer science team at HPHS and started building websites and databases for various school clubs. She also participated in few local “hackathon” events — intense 24-hour coding competitions during which hopefuls aim to solve a problem and create an app starting from scratch.
“You learn a lot in those 24 hours,” Liu said. “I made some really cool apps with my team.”
A recent event had a travel theme, so Liu’s team created a logistics app to help people ship packages around the world. The group won first place in its category.
For her Flatiron scholarship application, Liu designed an app that would help prevent small children from being left unattended in hot cars with an alert for drivers.
“There’s a problem in a lot of places where the weather gets really hot in the summer and people forget about their kids in the car. I wanted to build an app that could prevent this,” Liu said. “This issue has affected my family before, and I know how traumatic and frightening it could be.”
Liu hopes to continue developing the idea during the summer program, which is offered in 11 cities around the country.
“Flatiron gives students the tools they need to get jobs as software engineers,” said Flatiron School president Adam Enbar. “We give students the same skills that are in use at some of the best technology companies in the world.”
In Liu’s case, she aims to get a head start on pursuing a software engineering degree at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.