Stories

Google Anita Borg Scholar Sindi Shkodrani’15: “AUBG may be small, but it is full of great minds”

AUBG graduate Sindi Shkodrani (2015) is one of those students who perfectly exemplify the values of the university. Socially committed, hard-working and passionate for knowledge, Shkodrani achieved remarkable results during her four years at AUBG.

In addition to excelling academically, Shkodrani, a computer science (COS) and information systems major, was an active member of the university community. She was the president of the Computer Science Student Union, one of the founders of the Engineering Club, co-organizer of the 2012 TEDxAUBG event and senator in the AUBG Student Government. Shkodrani was awarded the Outstanding Achievement Award in Computer Science at 2015 AUBG Honors Convocation and graduated summa cum laude.

Shkodrani’s potential was soon noticed outside the university as well. She was honored with the prestigious Google Anita Borg Scholarship, which aims to support the education of women in computer science. Academic achievements were not Shkodrani’s only advantage to other applicants. “AUBG gave me the opportunity to do much more,” she said. In addition to the number of extracurricular activities, she completed a senior project in COS.

Shkodrani’s project consisted of a software solution that helps rescue teams find people during natural disasters by sending a drone to patrol the affected area and to localize smartphones. “The members of the [scholarship] jury believed the solution could really have an impact on the world and encouraged me to start marketing it as a product,” Shkodrani said.

Shkodrani, together with AUBG students Kristo Prifti, Aurel Roci and Marilind Maksuti, submitted the drone project to the Microsoft Imagine Cup competition and the idea was selected to take part in the Bulgarian National Finals in the Citizenship category.

The Google Anita Borg Scholarship has enabled Shkodrani to pursue a master’s degree in artificial intelligence at the University of Amsterdam, a program that has been her first choice for years.

“Artificial intelligence (AI) has always been inspiring to me due to its approach to problem-solving and potential to make an impact on the future,” Shkodrani said. “I am mostly interested in research that tries to apply AI techniques to medicine and I would also love to do AI for gaming.”

In addition to the financial help provided to the finalists, Google also covered their expenses for a “Scholars Retreat”, a four-day event at Google’s offices in London at the end of June. The event was not only a meeting place for successful women in computer science but also a kickoff of Google’s program for scholars that includes professional development and community impact-related activities.

Shkodrani said she will continue to be involved with Google’s programs in Europe that encourage women in technology while completing her graduate studies. She said she plans to launch a campaign with the same goal in her home country Albania with Google’s support.

“Stand out, make an impact on the community,” Shkodrani advised current students at AUBG. “Use your AUBG years wisely. Use the time and dedication of your professors. Forget about procrastination, find what you love and do it every day. Think big. Use what you can do best to change the things around you. AUBG may be small, but it is full of great minds.”

Story by Dimana Doneva

We are Social