Abinaya Dinesh among Apple’s Swift Student Challenge winners

Abinaya Dinesh, WWDC21 Swift Student Challenge winner.

Indian American student among three young women using technology to solve real-world problems.

A 15-year-old Indian American student Abinaya Dinesh has created an app called Gastro at Home that offers people with gastrointestinal disorders a way to discreetly access information and resources.

The app which the plans to launch on the App Store this summer, has won her a place among a very special group of young people — 350 Swift Student Challenge winners from 35 different countries and regions.

They will be will be among the millions of global attendees at the Apple’s 2021 Worldwide Developers Conference when it convenes for its second year in an all-virtual format, Apple announced Tuesday.

The winners were selected as part of Apple’s annual WWDC student challenge, each demonstrating their coding and problem-solving skills by submitting an original Swift playground to earn a spot.

“Every year, we are inspired by the talent and ingenuity that we see from our Swift Student Challenge applicants,” said Susan Prescott, Apple’s vice president of Worldwide Developer Relations and Enterprise and Education Marketing.

READ: Indian student in US among Apple’s 350 Swift Student Challenge winners (June 16, 2020)

“This year, we are incredibly proud that more young women applied and won than ever before, and we are committed to doing everything we can to nurture this progress and reach true gender parity.”

In fact, Dinesh is among three young women who are not only using technology to solve real-world problems, but are actively involved in teaching the next generation to do the same.

“They’re simultaneously blazing their own trail while making sure others have the tools to follow in their footsteps — all before they’ve graduated high school,” Apple said in a media release.

Dinesh has helped other young women learn the basics of programming and machine learning in her hometown of North Brunswick, New Jersey.

Passionate about the intersection of medicine and technology — something that became personal for her last year.

“I went to a gastroenterologist and he diagnosed me with a pelvic floor disorder,” said Dinesh, “but then told me nothing about how I was supposed to get better.”

In response, Dinesh created Gastro at Home that offers people with gastrointestinal disorders a way to access information and resources, especially because those types of conditions can sometimes be sensitive to talk about.

“I think it’s important that we keep pushing the boundaries of what’s possible, because nobody is going to do it for us,” she said.

Over the last year, Dinesh has also started her own nonprofit, Impact AI, to foster learning and ethical practices in artificial intelligence among young people.

As part of it, she launched an eight-week high school program, called Girls in AI, to teach young women the basics of programming and machine learning.

“I’m super big on teaching,” said Dinesh. “Showing the next generation that this technology exists and can lead to huge advancements in medicine and society is so important.

“And I’m proud that after the program was over, there were seniors applying to college who told me this experience changed what their major was going to be.”

“After she graduates high school, Dinesh has her sights set on either medical school or a degree in computer science so she can keep finding new ways to use technology to advance the medical field.

“I think it’s important that we keep pushing the boundaries of what’s possible,” said Dinesh, “because nobody is going to do it for us.”

Among the other two special winners Gianna Yan, 16, and her sister Shannon created Feed Fleet, an app that pairs volunteers with at-risk individuals to deliver essential goods right to their doorstep.

Yan is also designing an app that will help students report incidents of sexual assault on school campuses, and another that assists with breast cancer self-examinations and detecting heart disease in women.

Damilola Awofisayo started her own hackathon and now teaches other young women how to code through workshops and fellowships.

The result is TecHacks, a nonprofit that describes its mission as “creating a supportive environment for girls everywhere to create, problem-solve, and showcase their talents alongside like-minded females to compete and work with.”

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