As part of our series for Women’s History Month (and because Citrix is all about getting more girls into STEM and tech!), we are delighted to welcome Alexa Wilson, a 15-year-old from Silicon Valley who, by the look of things, is set to take over the world. Take it away, Lex! — MC
Bitcoin and blockchain are hot topics these days. So, in late 2017, I started a cryptocurrency mining business. Since then, I’ve filled up my garage with NVIDIA GPU mining rigs attached to the Ethereum network. As a 15-year-old girl, I’ve been asked a lot of questions lately about my endeavors in cryptocurrency.
“How did you get into it?”
“Were you always into tech?”
Today, I’m going to do my best to answer these questions.
Like all skills or hobbies, my interest in tech didn’t happen overnight; it was something that took practice and that I nurtured for a long time. I haven’t had much formal education in computer programming, but I’ve done many technology-related projects that helped me learn.
In third grade, I was 8 years old, and like many American kids, my school had a science fair. Like many who grew up in a competitive environment like the one we have in Silicon Valley, I wanted to win. This was when I decided to build my first (and, admittedly, rather crappy) computer.
Now, calling it a “computer” would be pretty generous. My creation was called “The Quiz Master 9000.” It had index cards with true/false questions that you would enter into a slot where tinfoil, strategically lining the back, would complete a circuit to light up green or red light depending on whether the user pressed the button corresponding to the correct answer. Having all my classmates stare up at me like I was some sort of technological super hero felt pretty darn good; from that moment, I was hooked.
I continued pursuing tech, and I started learning the basics of programming. As a fifth grader, I joined my school’s newly formed robotics club. The best we placed at any competition was 8th out of 10, but it was still a good experience.
But it was in middle school when I started getting more serious. My school had what you might call a big theft problem. So, I decided to use tech to solve a problem. I bought an Arduino and, with the help of my dad, learned how to program with it. I then used those skills to make a new, improved backpack with a fingerprint lock, so that only someone whose fingerprints had access could open the bag and get to its contents. I entered this into my school’s science fair and my project was chosen to advance to a district fair.
— Steve Wilson (@virtualsteve) March 18, 2016
My dad tweeted some pictures of my invention, where it was picked up by the company Adafruit who retweeted it, which only fueled my fire. I got back into robotics and built a replica of Doctor Who’s K9 robot dog and drove it around ComicCon. At one point, I did manage to start a “small” electrical fire and toast the poor pup. The emergency repairs were a bit stressful, but it only served as a learning experience. I now know that you can’t strap together nine D batteries, using duct tape and prayer as a power source because the the motor you salvaged from an old RC car, will go up in smoke, quite literally.
Today, I’m a sophomore in high school. I play varsity sports, I’m captain of the swim team, and maintain a 4.3 GPA. I am, to say the least, busy, and like most teenagers, in need of money. That when I heard about Bitcoin.
After research into the topic, I found that my love of tech could help me make money. So, my Dad and I built our first rig mining Ethereum. Wanting to share our results with others, we wrote a blog about these endeavors called “The Father/Daughter Guide to Cryptocurrency.” As we built bigger and more advanced rigs, we continued posting these blog entries, which began to gain steam. They now have tens of thousands of hits with hundreds of comments. I can make anywhere from 300-700 dollars a month using cryptocurrency, and help thousands like me learn how to take advantage of this lucrative opportunity.
I haven’t always been into tech, but the more I learn, the more I want to know. Who knows? Maybe, one day, I’ll create the world’s first fully functioning AI or figure out a way to make cryptocurrency widely accessible and consumer-friendly. What I do know is that with a thirst for knowledge and a little imagination, there’s almost nothing I can’t do.