Indian American Archika Dogra Wins Princeton University Award for Positive Contributions to Campus Life

  • A senior from Bellevue, Washington, founded Innoverge in 2017 to promote STEM education for social good and address educational inequity.

Indian American student Archika Dogra is among eight recipients of the 2024 Spirit of Princeton Award, honoring the university undergraduates for positive contributions to campus life. “The award recognizes those who have demonstrated a strong commitment to the undergraduate experience through dedicated efforts in student organizations, athletics, community service, religious life, residential life and the arts,” the Princeton university said. The award is sponsored by the  Office of the Dean of Undergraduate S tudents , and has been given annually since 1995.

Dogra, a senior from Bellevue, Washington, is majoring in computer science. She founded Innoverge in 2017 to promote STEM education for social good and address educational inequity. The non-profit “works with more than 10,200 underrepresented students across 14 countries through 75 youth-run chapters. It  partners with community centers, schools and libraries to offer long-term STEM and humanities-focused programming for K-8 students,” according to its website. Its curriculum covers” unconventional topics like how computing can aid nonprofits, or what ethics look like in the field of neuroscience,” the website says. 

Dogra started Innoverge “after realizing how much of a need there was not only in the diversity of who had access to a STEM education, but diversity in the way that STEM was being taught,” she told GeekWire in 2020 interview. She said her “work evolved out of a perception she picked up at an early age, when she went to her first computer science camp and was one of only two girls, along with 30 boys.” The national technology news site had chosen her as its Junior Geek of the Month for November. The monthly honor, presented by Northern Trust, recognizes talented young innovators, creators and entrepreneurs in the Pacific Northwest.

During her time in Princeton, Dogra served as president of the Entrepreneurship Club and president of Princeton South Asian Theatrics. She contributed to the wider university community through her mentorship with Academic Service Today, her involvement as a OneRespect interviewer and her service as an accessibility notetaker. She also served as the recruitment chair for the Orange Key tour guides and as a member of the Undergraduate Student Government movies committee. 

Her interest in computer science is fairly new. She told GeekWire that in middle school, she “considered herself a ‘humanities kid’ who didn’t have a lot of interest in science, technology, engineering and math.” But “somewhere along the way,” she “determined that she could do more with technology to impact the social causes that were important to her.”

Her focus on technology “sharpened after she attended Stanford University’s Artificial Intelligence Laboratory Outreach Summer Program in 2017, the summer after her freshman year at Interlake High School. She wasn’t confident that she would even get into the program, or that she even had any interest in computer science. “I gave it a shot,” Dogra said. “I was like, ‘I’m in high school and still exploring, we’ll see where this goes.’ That summer was super transformational because the way that the program was executed was really deeply intertwining tech and artificial intelligence and machine learning with social impact.”

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She worked on a project involving a computer vision model that helped map poverty in Uganda with poverty resource redistribution efforts. She worked under the tutelage of computer scientist Fei Fei Li, the inaugural Sequoia Professor in the Computer Science Department at Stanford University, and co-director of Stanford’s Human-Centered AI Institute. One of her mentors, she told GeekWire that Li “inspired her with the infinite possibilities of technology in catalyzing social good.”

In 2018, Dogra was was one of 45 interns nationwide selected for the NASA SEES internship in Austin, Texas, “where she developed a web application aiding and informing Texas flood response efforts,” according to her GeekWire profile. Later that summer, she worked under the University of Washington to support research at the intersection of neuroscience and machine learning. In 2019, she spent the school year interning at Sensoria Health, a Redmond startup building wearable technologies.

She is a 2018 Congressional App Challenge Winner, 2019 Mars Generation Global 24 under 24 STEM Leader, and 2020 Google Computer Science Summer Institute Scholar. She led TEDxYouth@Redmond as the 2019 president, founded her school’s Technology Student Association and served as captain of the debate team.

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