May 18, 2014
Shane KitzmanStaff Writer
Not only has Amanda Sullivan mastered everything from coding to Flash to 3D printing, she’s teaching it to fellow teens at the Best Buy Teen Tech Center at the Minneapolis Central Library.
Even if Best Buy took over Frankenstein’s lab and meticulously manufactured the perfect Teen Tech Squad Member, Amanda Sullivan would still outshine said hypothetical creation.
Sullivan, 18, practices website coding in her free time, taught herself Adobe Flash in mere days, and oozes ambition.
The senior from Fridley, Minn., mastered 3D printing and now teaches other teens how to manufacture everything from iPhone cases to fake nails at the Best Buy Teen Tech Center at the Minneapolis Central Library.
Best Buy’s Teen Tech Centers – fitted with cutting-edge technology – help teens develop 21st century skills to prepare for future careers. Chicago, Miami, Minneapolis and San Antonio each boast one. In partnership with Boys and Girls Clubs, Best Buy will open four more teen tech centers in Denver, Seattle, Washington D.C. and Jersey City.
In Minneapolis, Sullivan recently was recognized for her work, receiving the Aspirations in Computing Award from the National Center for Women & Information Technology. Best Buy Teen Tech Center Coordinator Aaron Lundholm nominated Sullivan for the award because of her passion and deep desire to help others.
“It was a thrill to see her win as she obviously deserved the recognition,” he said. “She brings so much energy with her extroverted personality.”
When Sullivan joined the Teen Tech Squad last May, she’d found her true home teaching tech to teens three days a week.
“I hadn’t been in here before, and I walked in and immediately said ‘These are my people!’” she recalled. “They’re super passionate about what they want to do. They could be at home playing video games but they’re in here working on their video projects and their music. They take the initiative to follow their passion.”
Being a whiz has its hurdles, like being the only female in her college computer sciences courses. But that doesn’t deter Sullivan.
And then there’s shattering the stereotype that can shackle computer science kids.
“There’s a stigma that goes along with someone in technology that they’re reclusive,” she said. “But I’ve met hundreds of people in the field and they aren’t cookie cutter nerdy. It’s just not true. Look around here (she points around the Teen Tech Center with dozens of teens working on video editing projects). We’re all with each other, hanging out.”
Sullivan knows the national movement is to get the female/male breakdown in computer science to be 50/50 by 2020, and she wants to be one of the women who lead the way (stats say men currently outnumber women four to one in the field).
Lundholm would be the first to say Sullivan’s more than capable of making that happen.
“The Best Buy Teen Tech Center and these opportunities have given Amanda the groundwork to go far in her career,” he said.