Annie Liu has always been quite at odds with her identity. At home she only spoke Chinese, and out in the world she switched to another language and changed her behavior to better adapt.
“I think I really just wanted to find a passion that could really combine these two parts of my identity,” said Liu. “Since technology and coding have always played a big role, I wanted to combine this with communication.”
As a senior at Interlake High School in Bellevue, Washington, Liu’s career in engineering is about improving communication, whether it’s an education, culture, language, or skill level.
“I’m not sure where the future will take me, whether I’ll perfect machine translation or develop full-body VR, but I’m all for it,” said the 18-year-old, the GeekWires Junior Geek of the Month for March. The monthly award, presented by the Northern Trust, recognizes talented young innovators, creators and entrepreneurs in the Pacific Northwest.
If her past is any indication, Liu’s future will be full of activities and honors. Here’s some of what she achieved:
- Establishment of a translation group called Polychromatic Prose to promote multicultural exchange through the exchange of Chinese literature.
- President of the Mu Alpha Theta Club.
- Gold qualification for the USACO (USA Coding Olympiad), the competition that flows directly into the International Olympiad in Computer Science.
- Qualification for the first round for Google Code Jam and Facebook Hacker Cup.
- Summer math camps at Stanford Pre-Collegiate Studies, AwesomeMath, Ross, HCSSiM
Liu is also an intern at Jargon, the Seattle-based startup that allows developers to create voice and chatbots for Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Rasa. According to CEO Milkana Brace, Liu single-handedly created an advanced chatbot that uses a cutting-edge AI framework for conversations. Liu also coded the current home page, resource library, and tutorials section.
“Annie has remarkable intellectual curiosity and capacity combined with a positive and humble attitude,” said Brace. She called Liu a “proud and undisputed geek who studies the application of technology to real problems and who wants to use her talents to make the world a smaller and more connected place.”
Annie Liu, center, with teammates Laura Xing and Daniel Pyon after finishing runner-up in the Pacific Lutheran University High School programming competition in 2019. (Photo courtesy Annie Liu)
While Liu’s interest in translation has a lot to do with exposing people to different languages and cultures, she liked how her internship exposed her to communication within a startup across teams and project managers, designers and programmers everyone wants to work on and products understand equally.
Liu’s desire to reach people has expanded to Instagram, where she runs a feed called Ricepan News to promote the success of the Asia-Pacific islanders. And she also builds “Minecraft” mods like SinoEats, who combined their love for Chinese food with games.
I’m not sure where the future will take me, whether I’ll perfect machine translation or develop full-body VR, but I’m all for it.
Liu plans to study computer science at college and has received offers from the University of Washington and UCLA to date. She was waiting for “all Ivys”. She hopes to double the major in East Asian Studies and definitely wants to take courses like anthropology and psychology to better understand the human aspect of science.
“I feel like there’s a stereotype that Asian parents want their kids to be doctors or lawyers, but in this tech environment, everyone in Seattle wants their child to learn computer science and become a software engineer,” she laughed.
During the pandemic, Liu has been engaged in various projects and tried to take up new hobbies such as singing and dancing.
Brace says her raw intellect and positive attitude make Liu “one in a million.”
“For the past 20+ years as a senior executive in large corporations and more recently as an entrepreneur, I have hired and worked with thousands of the best technologists from around the world,” said Brace. “Annie has the potential to be the most extraordinary of them.”
Nominate a junior geek
GeekWire will have a new Junior Geek of the Month in profiles designed to capture how they seek to have a positive impact on the world through their geeky activities. In addition, they receive special recognition from our project partner Northern Trust.
Do you know an extraordinary junior geek between the ages of 12 and 20 who will change the world? Submit a nomination.
Nominees must be located in the Pacific Northwest and include parenting information for nominees under the age of 18. Jr. Geeks can nominate themselves. However, please include the contact information of your parent or legal guardian.
Read more about our previous Junior Geek of the Month winners.