Google Engineer Volunteers for Code Dojo 2017

There’s something about alumni of USC Viterbi School of Engineering – they are eager to come back to campus and support today’s students in their college and career pathways. But Uday Ghatikar, who obtained his Masters in Computer Science from USC Viterbi before his teenage children were born, came back to campus last week to encourage students at Western Elementary STEM Magnet School to start coding and to stick with it through college.

Uday took the morning off from his work at Google, where he is a Customer Engineer in the Sales Division of Google Cloud. Google encourages employees to volunteer in the community, and Uday jumped at the chance to return to USC Viterbi to participate in the Code Dojo outreach, part of USC Viterbi Adopt-a-Teacher, Adopt-a-Student (VAST)’s annual commitment to National Computer Science Education Week. The volunteer request was posted by Jennifer Vanden Barth, Program Manager at Google’s CS Education Initiatives, who had been to USC weeks earlier at a forum on the collaboration between USC Annenberg Professor Stacy L. Smith and the Google’s Computer Science in Media team.

Code Dojo, now in its third year, encourages K-12 students to participate in’s Hour of Code and other computer science (CS) activities by pairing USC student volunteers with schools. Befitting a week celebrating CS, most of the outreach takes place via video chat on Google Hangouts, which makes it easier to connect USC students with schools as far away as Diamond Bar without the cost and hassle of renting a bus. K-12 schools prepped their own students by giving them coding challenges from Hour of Code, which has projects for all levels of coders, followed by the video chat with a USC student. The younger students were invited to ask anything of the USC students, and questions ranged from what is college like to how do computers have memory. Altogether, twelve USC student volunteers — and Uday – connected with 1,100 K-12 students over the two-day Code Dojo outreach.

Some USC Viterbi students volunteered for Code Dojo’s one face-to-face event at the USC campus with 31 students from the Girls Academic Leadership Academy (GALA) and St. Mary’s Academy. Together, the USC mentors and visiting students worked on a coding challenge created by USC student Stacy Phan, a sophomore at USC Viterbi studying computer science. Stacy is an alumna of Girls Who Code, the immersive coding experience for high school girls, as are two other USC Viterbi CS students who volunteered at Code Dojo: Glory Kanes and Cheyenne Gaima.

Organizations like Girls Who Code,, and Google help USC VAST achieve its goals of inspiring PreK-12 students and teachers to engage fully in STEM, especially computer science. Google’s resources supporting CS education, its tools like Google Hangouts, and community support through employee volunteer programs make a valuable contribution to filling the tech gap in the United States. So many USC Viterbi graduates end up at Google that having Uday here inspired the USC students as well as the elementary school students he spoke with on Google Hangouts.

Uday: you made our day. Thanks!

Published on December 30th, 2017

Last updated on May 25th, 2023