Meet the 20-year-old on a campaign to bridge the gap between academia and the IT industry

Batool Salibi was on a roll. 

The 20-year-old had just finished her second year at Birzeit University with flying colors. She was placed on the dean’s list for the fourth consecutive term and garnered praise from professors and students alike. The experience, however, was missing something. 

Before she enrolled in the computer systems engineering program at Birzeit University, Salibi joined the Code for Palestine program, which encourages high-school students to pursue higher education in STEM subjects through workshops and training camps that focus on coding and critical thinking skills. 

One of the key features of the Coding for Palestine program is its interactive, participatory nature. Through its annual training camps, the program promotes teamwork and collaboration, encouraging students to brainstorm out-of-the-box solutions to complex problems. It is this space for extracurricular cooperative learning that Salibi had in mind and, with her usual tenacity and dedication, it is this space that she set out to create.

With help from her peers and professors, Salibi established Google’s Developer Student Club chapter at Birzeit University. The club constitutes a community of student developers, coders, and programmers interested in learning, and developing, new technologies. “Our club presents students with the opportunity to discuss new ideas and concepts in an informal, creative space,” said Salibi. She added that the club helps connect students with software experts and technology entrepreneurs, both locally and internationally, thus giving them the best start in such a highly competitive field. 

Despite the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has slowed life to a halt, the club was able to organize online events and activities that brought students together with industry experts. The club held seminars on machine learning and organized information sessions on the most-essential skills currently in demand in the IT industry. 

As for the future, Salibi notes that the club will continue to host events and organize activities that help orient and guide students within the ever-expanding field of IT and communication technologies. “Once the pandemic ends and traveling becomes normal again, we will hold more in-person events and participate in international conferences and exhibitions. For now, however, we will keep focusing on what students need to excel in their academic and professional journeys,” she added.