Creativity and passion help Bright Spark tackle today’s challenges
Skills Bright Sparks wrapped up another fantastic year celebrating the country's elite technological inventors. At the event was a previous Bright Sparks finalist, Priya Mittal, who was amazed at the advancement of the competition and the quality of entries.
Achieving her dreams
Now a Solutions Manager at IBM, Priya studied a Bachelor of Engineering, specialising in Electrical and Electronics Engineering, and a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Pharmacology. “Every day with IBM is different, there is quite a lot of variety in my role,” Priya explains, adding with a giggle, “Essentially I solve problems and figure out puzzles all day - it’s really cool! I enjoy the process of turning an idea into a solution.” She also recently completed her Master’s in Electrical and Electronics Engineering.
Where her interest began
Priya became interested in tech in Year Seven, where she learned to solder and create circuit boards. “There were great teachers that helped build confidence in the students. They created a comfortable environment for us to explore our ideas and I think that was very important,” she says.
She entered the Bright Sparks competition with a Mobile Communicating Doorbell, solving the common problem of a parcel being delivered when you’re not home. The device allows the courier to call your mobile by simply pressing a button, enabling you to give instructions while you’re out.
"The kids now are incorporating different types of technology into their work. When I entered, our projects were more electronics focused, there was coding involved, but it was hardware based. Whereas now, there are quite a few software projects and even apps. This technology is not very old, in 2010 apps weren’t a big thing and certainly not something students were developing.”
“There are always new challenges popping up along with new technologies to solve them. It doesn’t matter what age you are, there’s always a need for different kinds of thinking, diverse thinking is vital,” Priya says.
Skills Bright Sparks encourages kids to embrace their passion for technology and enter projects that solve a problem they, their family, or community face. The competition has been a stepping stone for many young Kiwis entering the realm of modern technology. “In the competition, you get to develop your ideas and the feedback provided by the judges and your peers is really important.”
Her advice to young inventors
While us Kiwis are not ones to brag about our accomplishments, Priya’s advice to her younger self would be to let people know what she was working on. “Since progressing into the industry, I have found once you start talking to others, especially companies, they’re always keen to help out. In New Zealand, we are so lucky because companies are willing to offer their expertise and further your project. The more people that know what you’re working on the more opportunities arise.”
“There are some very smart people at IBM, I think working with these technical experts has helped me appreciate mentoring,” Priya explains. As a result of this experience, she now wants to pay it forward and mentor future Skills Bright Sparks finalists.
Priya's parting wisdom for all young Kiwis with bright ideas: "Starting is the hardest part, but after that, you're hooked! It’s also a great opportunity to have access to a mentor, they can definitely help you see how far your ideas can go."