Toluwani on teamwork makes the dream work: a healthcare app built within a week!
At the time, the idea seemed too daunting, because the idea was to come up with an app in less than a week and then submit it. We started working on the app and it was a long week of sleepless nights!
Tell us more about yourself, who is Toluwani?
My name is Toluwani Ajibare and I am currently a first year Computer Science Student at the University of Lagos in Nigeria. I applied for the ALX Africa software engineering program, where I got accepted into cohort 9 and I started my journey in mid August 2022.
Since then, I've worked on several projects where I have collaborated with my peers and I have learned a lot. I have also been extensively documenting my journey on a Twitter thread with the hashtag #365DaysofALX to help me stay accountable to myself, monitor my growth and stay focused. I started my journey into tech when I got a Scholarship with Ingressive For Good and The Zuri Team to study front end web development which lasted for three months and then I went on to apply for the ALX Software Engineering program.
What in particular attracted you to the ALX software engineering program? What were you looking to get out of it?
I wanted to further my knowledge with tech and then I came across the ALX software engineering program. When I went through the curriculum, I saw that it was incredibly intense, very vast and broad.
The program is known for being very intense and demands a lot of time up to 70 hours or more every week. You are from Cohort 9 hence you are now in sprint 3. What has motivated you to keep going?
I have a goal and commitment that this is what I want to achieve and these are the steps I have to take to achieve it. I also draw motivation from other past cohorts before me who have been able to successfully complete the program and graduate. If they were able to do it, then I also can complete the program and graduate.
One thing that is unique about you is that you are very active on Twitter, you talk about the program, you share advice and document your progress with your hashtag #365DaysofALX. What drives you to do that?
When I started the program, I was documenting my progress on my notepad. One day when I was on day 22, my sister - Deshola Ajibare came across my notes and she gave me the idea to start a thread on Twitter. I would update my progress every day and then this will help me stay accountable, stay focused and monitor my goals. This is how I started the movement around the hashtag #365DaysofALX where many people now use it to drop random motivational quotes.
It has really helped motivate a lot of people including myself on the days I feel down. When I started documenting my journey on Twitter, other students drew inspiration and also started documenting their journeys to support each other. We all have bad days and on days where I feel unmotivated to continue, I can come across a tweet about another person who has been able to hack the task or project I was struggling with. This then serves as motivation that if this person can achieve this, I also can do it.I have met a lot of amazing people through the tag and now we have formed strong bonds and continue to support each other.
The ALX curriculum is very hands-on and based on experiential learning. What has been your favorite project so far and which one has been the most challenging?
My favorite one has been the shell project. Before we started working on it with my partners, it seemed very difficult, like something that couldn’t be achieved. We kept wondering how we were going to build something of that sort but then when we started it started working. Although we were not able to complete the whole project because there were some parts that were still not working, we did a lot.
My most challenging one has been the AirBnB clone project because I was working with a peer partner and we were getting a lot of errors. It's really challenging because it has several parts such as the console, the database (MySQL) part and it has the front-end aspect. So I feel like by the time we finish, it is going to be something very amazing.
On 28th March 2023, ALX welcomed a 100% Female-only software engineering cohort. There are those who are almost getting to those projects. What would you advise them when they get to these projects?
Do a lot of research beforehand and be intentional in choosing a partner they're comfortable working with throughout the program. For example, if you're working with somebody in a timezone that creates a huge time difference, it might affect effective collaboration. Check for things like shared interests, personality and so on to pick a partner that you are compatible with and can work together well. If you're working with somebody you're comfortable with, even when you have to work at odd hours or you're getting errors, you remain confident that you will be able to hack it with the person.
Tell us about your experience at the NVIDIA workshop and the LablabAI hackathon. How did you get such an opportunity? What are the activities you engaged in? How has that changed your perspective?
Alice Mamsana posted the LablabAI opportunity to our buddy group and she implored us to take the opportunity and work on it. At the time, the idea seemed too daunting, because the idea was to come up with an app in less than a week and then submit it. One of my team members, Joshua encouraged us to proceed stating that the worst that could happen is us being in the last position. We, therefore, started working on the app and it was a long week of sleepless nights, coding, whiteboarding and meetings.
In the end, we were able to come up with an app even though some of the features were not working perfectly. The app uses artificial intelligence to provide individuals with an easy and efficient way of monitoring their health and they're really good speeds. I'm proud of myself and the team because a lot of people registered but so many did not submit their solution on time.
You created a health app within a week! Take us through the idea behind the health app that you built. What do you call it? Is it publicly accessible? And what are the functionalities? How can somebody use it?
The idea behind the app is that we wanted to help tackle the challenges of access to quality healthcare in Africa.
One of the features that is currently working on the app is that you can type in your symptoms and then the app will give you a diagnosis and a rundown of things that may be wrong. The app is also able to recommend a meal and exercise plan to help with the recovery process. We also built in an audio input feature for people that might have problems typing or in emergency situations such as seeking to know how to do CPR. A person can speak to the app and then give you a diagnosis or a rundown of things. A person, therefore, simply types a sentence for example you have a headache or a sore throat. The app will then give you a rundown of conditions that are associated with the symptoms you described. The app uses OpenAI’s API specifically GPT 3.5 and for the audio-input feature , we used whisper API.
Speaking of AI, when did you get interested in how AI works and how have you been able to build your skills so far?
I got interested in AI during the ALX challenge where we were supposed to use Midjourney to create a picture. I used Midjourney to create a picture of software engineers and that made my interest in AI peak a lot. Afterwards, I attended several of Julien's sessions where he used Dalle API and chatGPT for his sessions, and they certainly helped me in my AI discovery journey.
How has AI benefited your software engineering journey? Do you use it for any tasks? Has it been beneficial in your learning journey?
Oh yes it has! Sometimes when I am having an error in code and I don’t know where it is coming from despite going back to it and checking several times, I ask chatGPT. However, you must ask the right questions and give chatGPT the correct prompt for it to help you. So I give it detailed prompts like ‘this code is supposed to do so and so but it is not giving the correct output, what do you think can be wrong with it?’ chatGPT then gives me a list of things that could be wrong such as maybe I did not add something or I did not execute it correctly hence it helps me find errors in my code.
A lot of developers and/or software engineers are worried that AI is going to replace them. Seeing how much you have leveraged on AI, what would you advise them?
I think that's a very ignorant mindset to have because if you think AI is going to replace you then you either don’t see or need the benefits of AI. AI is a tool that you can use to make yourself better and to make your apps because it makes work easier and faster.
My advice to them is they should learn how AI works because it can be applied to any sector-You can use it in the health sector or software engineering, design sector and so much more- they should learn how AI works and how best to use it to suit their needs. The people that will stay on top and competitive going into the future will be those that know how to use AI.
You recently participated in the NVIDIA workshop. Tell us how you got that opportunity and your experience at the workshop.
When we submitted our solution for the LablabAI hackathon. Julien told us that we had won free tickets to attend the NVIDIA’s fundamentals of deep learning workshop. I attended the workshop and got introduced to deep learning and how it worked.The workshop lasted a whole day and then we had six labs where they basically introduced us to deep learning, taught us how to train the model and achieve high binary accuracy. At the end, we had an assessment where we were required to train a model to recognize fresh and rotten fruits. After going through the learning materials one more time, I completed the assessment and I got my certificate.
You are doing a lot more just beyond the software engineering program. You are learning AI, participated in a hackathon and also joined the NVIDIA workshop. What would be your advice on how to access such opportunities?
Put yourself out there and seek to work on projects aside from ALX. I know that this might be hard because ALX requires a lot of your time. However, if you work on other projects. You may meet different people that will give you different ideas and we all know that your network is your networth. You might get new ideas on what to work on and emerging topics and developments in the world.
When you publicly share your progress, you meet a lot of people that will give you several opportunities. Putting myself out there has paid off in so many ways such as the time I got featured on Julien's YouTube live coding session. This was possible because I was sharing my journey on Twitter and that is how he saw me and reached out to me to feature on his live.
What is the most important thing you have learned at ALX so far?
The most important thing I’ve learned at ALX so far is that fortune favors the bold. You can achieve whatever you put your mind to as long as you put in the work and push beyond your comfort zone. The only thing between you and your desired goal is hard work, dedication and consistency.
FUN RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS
Mac, windows or Linux? why?
Mac. Personally I use Windows but the few times I’ve had to work with Mac OS, it was pretty amazing.
Vim or emacs? Why?
Vim. File editing is faster with Vim.
Tell us about Betty and her almighty checkers, what is your opinion about her?
Betty can be a bit frustrating on your first encounter but over time, you learn to appreciate how Betty works and how she helps you write clean and reusable code.
If you could have a superpower related to programming or software engineering, what would it be?
The ability to process and analyze data super fast!
What gives you hope for our African continent?
The fact that we have foundations like ALX that believe in empowering youths, challenging them to take charge of their career from a young age, teaching them digital skills and how to leverage those skills to make the most of their career and solve real life problems around them.
What are your final words of wisdom and encouragement to your peers in the program?
Never give up, never stop learning, make the most of your ALX community, don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it and only compare yourself to the person you were the previous day.
Set reminder for the upcoming Twitter Space with Toluwani happening on Tuesday 18th April 2023 at 4:00 PM (GMT) | 5:00 PM (WAT) | 7:00 PM (EAT) where we dive deeper into his story.
Share any questions you may have for Toluwani here.
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