Careers in Computer Science
Careers in Computer Science 2


Melbourne-based Maia started a yearly event called
HealthHack, where software developers meet with medical
researchers over a weekend to build solutions to big
challenges in health – like finding treatments for cancers.
“The researchers are really into it, and all the software people
are delighted to get the chance to work on something
awesome like cancer research,” says Maia.

HealthHack also attracts designers, data analysts and game
makers. And it sees some fantastic results – like Team Girror in
2014, who came second with a series of apps that help gambling
addicts and psychologists understand what triggers the urge to bet.
Team Gene Machine, meanwhile, found a way to visually map the stages of sequencing changes in DNA, a cell’s genetic ‘blueprint’, which will help speed up genetic testing and the medical treatments that follow.

By day, Maia is a full-time business analyst for ThoughtWorks, a global software company on a mission to help humanity and drive social change. Maia trained as a biomedical engineer before working in science communication and then as a data analyst.

She started out at ThoughtWorks as a software tester, where her job was to find “cool and interesting ways to break things”. Her work as a business analyst involves helping companies figure out how to solve their problems through software.

“I wanted to have a job where I was having fascinating conversations with interesting people!”


Dragonflies chase prey almost faster than we can see and
catch it with near perfect success, yet their brains are a tiny
fraction of the size of a human brain. Zahra is a postgrad
student at the University of Adelaide, where she and a team
of researchers are studying the supreme tracking abilities of
dragonflies to develop a way for robotic eyes to mimic these
predatory insects.

First, the team looks at how individual dragonfly brain cells work
and interact with each other. Then, they copy the processes of the
dragonfly brain onto the circuitry of robots, creating tracking software
that enables machines to see and respond like insects.

The tracking software has been tested in virtual reality simulations, where an artificial intelligence entity chases a virtual target against a complex background. The software could be applied to drones, smart cars or surgical robots.

“This project is all about coding,” says Zahra. “It’s essential in order to program the hardware to interact with the software.” Zahra has even used coding for her own convenience, to organise files and remote control a computer. “When you learn to code, you start to think about all the ways you can program to make life easier.”

Zahra enjoys maths, but says you don’t necessarily need to be good at it to code. “Coding requires logic, and can be used for almost anything,” she says.

Her tip is to “explore the things around you and see how the world works.”