Thunkable is the block-based programming software that our students use to build their apps. This software originated as part of the MIT App Inventor Project, which was backed by Google. The Forbes “30 Under 30” list featured the Thunkable founders, Arun Saigal and WeiHua Li, after their registered users made more than 13 million apps.
Our visit started with a software engineer leading a hands-on tutorial in the Thunkable X platform with an embedded interface powered by Microsoft’s Artificial Intelligence platform that compares vector device images with tagged and categorized images in a large database to discern whether a predetermined object is present or absent.
Then there was a Q&A portion, where the Thunkable staff members described their scholastic and career journeys and the different responsibilities that they have with the team. Nearly all of the employees are graduate and undergraduate students at MIT and worked on the original MIT App Inventor project. A common theme was passion among the staff and developing an understanding that coding is only one of the attributes of becoming a a success in computer science. The students thoroughly enjoyed the chance to spend time and learn from programmers and entrepreneurs who are creating the future.
Students got a behind the scenes tour of Google, where they heard an insightful talk from the Google Earth Education Team. As we all know, Google Earth and other Geo Tools enable everyone to interpret and understand these relationships by visualizing locations, directions, geophysical features, and environmental changes.
The visit started with a project manager sharing what Google Earth has been working on for the past few years as there’s been some major updates. Now there is 3D mapping of all the buildings in major metropolitans areas! Google Street View cameras were attached to dog sleds, camels, and other non-traditional transport to capture more of the world.
The team then passed out Google tools to the students and they each got to capture their own “street view” experience as they walked around the Google campus. The trip at Google ended with lunch in their infamous cafe!