Here at iD Tech, we have a special affinity for tech-united siblings. After all, it was a brother and sister, Alexa as our co-founder and Pete as our CEO, who built iD Tech from the ground up.
So when we heard about the accomplishments of Molly and Ian Cinnamon, siblings who had both attended iD Tech Camps and gone on to do BIG things with their skills, we couldn’t have been more thrilled.
Molly is currently a sophomore at Harvard, where she’s studying Computer Science and Government. This summer, she’ll be interning at the U.S. Digital Service, a collection of “problem-solvers” coming together to update the technology behind critical public services like healthcare and benefits for veterans.
This won’t be Molly’s first time improving both the government and tech fields. In 2012, she was a panelist at a White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Forum. The goal of the forum was to encourage more than 100 leaders of the entertainment industry to more accurately portray women in technology. In 2014, Molly was also 1 of 35 women in the United States to receive the Aspirations in Computing Award from the National Center for Women and Information Technology.
As if that wasn’t enough, Molly also wrote and directed a Public Service Announcement titled This is Laura (below), a short film that addresses negative stereotypes about women in tech. This is Laura was distributed nationally by the Entertainment Industries Council, a nonprofit that aims to correct negative stereotypes in the media, and has since been shown in forums across the globe.
Her brother Ian is equally impressive. By the age of 15, after attending iD Tech, he’d published a programming book and built and sold several apps on the Apple App Store. He fulfilled his childhood dream of attending MIT, from which he graduated in three years.
Ian then started a product lab with Mark Pincus (current CEO of Zynga, creator of Words with Friends, Mafia Wars, and other big-name game titles) where he had the opportunity to manage a team of a dozen designers and engineers. Their product lab was acquired by Zynga, where Ian continued his prototyping for some time before leaving to explore the world of insurance tech, which involves building tools to increase transparency and reduce costs in the industry.
Since then, he’s also founded a nonprofit, Immunity Project, an organization that’s using machine learning and big data to develop an HIV vaccine for free worldwide distribution.
“Molly and I both absolutely loved iD Tech,” Ian says. “I was first seriously exposed to programming at iD Tech Camps, and from there I was motivated to learn more about C++, Java, and programming in general.”
Molly agrees. “My experience at iD Tech laid the foundation for my interest in computer science. When my instructor first started explaining the dozens of applications of programming, my interest was piqued. I entered the most basic print command and saw two words appear on my display—‘Hello World’—and my universe expanded. Coding became a passion.”
Both siblings attended multiple camp sessions, and credit iD Tech as sparking their interest in programming and thus their future careers. Their desire to help others, however, is something that came from within each of them.
“As I pursued programming, I recognized a crippling stereotype about women in technology: that we are humorless, antisocial, boring,” Molly says. “Determined to illuminate and change that point of view, I wrote and directed This is Laura.”
Ian’s desire to help improve the lives of others began when he was just 14. “I used to invite my friends over and teach them programming,” he says in his Ted Talk. “I wanted to educate young people on programming; I wanted to connect them with technology.”
And then, of course, there’s Immunity Project. Ian says his love of programming, his studies at MIT, and his experiences at iD Tech all came together to inspire him to work with the nonprofit.
“Programming was about understanding how a set of specific patterns can result in certain outcomes. During my time at MIT, I studied Cognitive Science, where I learned about certain psychological patterns that result in human behavior,” Ian says. “Basically, I see a strong set of parallels between computer science and cognitive science; one involves bits, one involves cells.
To me, Immunity Project was the best of both worlds: some computer science paired with the human ailment of HIV. If I’m going to tackle something, may as well aim big. I learned that at iD Tech.”
Molly feels the same, and wants to encourage young women to pursue careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). Her advice is reflected at the end of This is Laura: “Don’t let stereotypes define you; instead, defy them.” Those words are very similar to our co-founder Alexa’s thoughts about Alexa Café.
The power of a dynamic brother and sister duo is astounding to behold. Pete and Alexa, as well as the rest of us at iD Tech, congratulate Molly and Ian on their successes.
Are you a former camper, or do you know of one, who’s gone on to do something BIG? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear from you!