Allen School undergraduates Nayha Auradkar, Melissa Birchfield and Raida Karim have been selected for the 2021 class of the Husky 100. Each year the program honors 100 University of Washington students across its three campuses who are making the most of their time as Huskies to have a positive impact on the UW community.
Nayha Auradkar is a junior from Sammamish, Washington, majoring in computer science with a minor in neural computation and engineering. She aims to create technology that supports accessibility and inclusion for people with disabilities. Her work with Jennifer Mankoff in the Make4all Lab in human-computer interaction (HCI) and accessible technology complements her goals. Outside of the lab, Auradkar is the chair of the UW chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery for Women (ACM-W), working to cultivate a strong, supportive community of women in the Allen School, and is president of Huskies Who Stutter. She previously served as the outreach director of the Society of Women Engineers.
“Technology can benefit the world in limitless and profound ways — even more so when everyone’s voice is heard,” Auradkar said. “Throughout my time as a Husky I have worked towards advocating for more equitable communities in tech and beyond.”
Melissa Birchfield is a senior also from Sammamish, Washington, majoring in computer science with UW Interdisciplinary Honors. Birchfield worked as a teaching assistant for several CS and Human Centered Design & Engineering (HCDE) courses and has led outreach projects through Alternative Spring Break. She has contributed to research as part of the Programming Languages & Software Engineering (PLSE) group and worked with Ph.D. student Eunice Jun in the Interactive Data Lab to facilitate statistical analysis for end-users. She has also explored the intersection of HCI and machine learning in HCDE’s Inclusive Design Lab. She is an anti-human trafficking advocate and author of “Data for Dignity: Leveraging Technology in the Fight Against Human Trafficking” examining the role of data in cross-sector collaboration to combat human trafficking.
“My time at UW has challenged me to embrace new experiences while clarifying my heart for outreach and innovation,” Birchfield said. “As an educator, researcher, author and anti-trafficking advocate, I pursue ways to bridge gaps in communities by leveraging technology to open unexplored opportunities.”
Raida Karim is a fourth year computer science major from Dhaka, Bangladesh. She’s a researcher working with Allen School professor Maya Cakmak in the Human-Centered Robotics Lab. Karim is focused on meeting critical human needs and achieving social good, which has inspired her to create technologies like a robot that measures stress levels in teens and develops some therapeutic, intervening techniques to help them. She served as a program lead in Mentor Power for Success in the Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity, a student leader in the UW chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery, and worked as a teaching assistant in the Allen School’s direct admit seminar. Off campus, she was an intern at Cisco and is currently an X-Force Fellow sponsored by the National Security Innovation Network.
“My personal background as a woman of color and an immigrant allows me to embrace all differences in humanity,” Karim said. “I hope my visibility and persistence demonstrates that hard work, determination and self-worth are keys to tackling odds in engineering, when there are no familiar faces or legacies.”
View the 2021 Class of the Husky 100 here.
Congratulations, Nayha, Melissa and Raida!