Written by volunteer writer Amy Freeman
It’s not uncommon for parents to pass on their interests, values and even career paths to their children. The children of lawyers often become lawyers, the children of doctors often become doctors. For Dan Protopopsecu and his daughter, Julia, volunteering with TechGirlz has become a bit of a family affair.
Dan volunteers as a teaching assistant and instructor and Julia has joined him in workshops as an assistant.
In fact, it was an interest in teaching his daughter about IT that allowed Dan to discover TechGirlz. “I like to mentor and to share my knowledge in information technology,” he says. “At first, I started teaching my daughter, but that was not enough, so I [wanted to] share my knowledge and teach more children.”
Dan was looking for potential topics when he stumbled upon TechGirlz and created an account so that he could download a workshop. Danica Pascavage, the Philadelphia Outreach Manager, followed up with him and asked if he was interested in holding a workshop. “That was exactly what I needed,” he says.
Dan has had a long career in the tech field. He holds a master’s degree in computer engineering and started his career as a system/network engineer around 30 years ago. In his day-to-day life, he works to secure systems and applications, depending on a broad knowledge of various technologies, processes and governance.
“Being a system engineer means that you need to constantly solve problems but it also includes repetitive and boring tasks,” he notes. Having learned programming while in school, he was able to automate some of those repetitive tasks, giving him more time in the day to learn new things.
Among those new things he is learning are deep learning/machine learning and artificial intelligence. He’s particularly intrigued by quantum computing at the moment and would like to focus on studying it more.
Dan is aware of the challenges facing women in tech and notes that he works with a team with a considerable number of women architects, developers and project managers. “They are a very good example that stereotypes, any barriers can be broken so that imagination and innovation can be set free,” he says.
So far, Dan has found his time volunteering with TechGirlz to be more fulfilling than expected. The girls he has taught go way beyond what they are studying in the workshop. “They innovate, improve and ask very interesting questions,” he says.
Anytime the opportunity arises, Dan encourages his colleagues and friends to get involved with TechGirlz. He notes that TechGirlz has a carefully designed process that makes it very easy for people to get started as volunteers.
Want to volunteer with TechGirlz? Check out our available opportunities and sign up today!