Tech giants including Google reward dedicated DMU student

Industry giants including Google have recognised an Artificial Intelligence student from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) for her academic excellence, passion for technology and leadership skills.


Iffat Islam has been awarded Google’s 2020 Women Techmakers Scholarship for gaming, joining a community of recipients who are inspiring the next generation of computer science and gaming students.

As well as a €7,000 grant, the scholarship includes mentorship from industry experts, free access to Google’s new gaming platform Stadia, the chance to meet other recipients and invites to exclusive networking events.

Iffat has also earned the 2020 Women in Technology Scholarship from Palantir – a world-leading American software company – which includes a £5,500 grant, professional development sessions and training with the company’s engineers.


“I still can’t believe it, but they’ve opened up a lot of opportunities for me,” said the 20-year-old from Cambridge.

“I’m currently on a year out to be with my family during the pandemic, but knowing that I can worry a lot less about money when I return to complete the final year of my degree at DMU is a big help.

“It means that I can spend more time on my projects, instead of having to work part-time, and I can invest in some better hardware too.”

Completing her hat-trick of awards, Iffat has also received the 2020 Bertelsmann Technology Scholarship – from one of the world’s largest media conglomerates – providing her with free access to a sought-after artificial intelligence course run online by leading software company Udacity.

Iffat's first Developer Student Clubs event at DMU (pre-Covid)

As well as striving to get the most out of her scholarships, Iffat leads one of Google’s Developer Student Clubs (DSC), which are university-based community groups empowering students to expand their skills by building solutions for local businesses and their community.

She said: “I’m one of just 59 leads appointed worldwide in 2019 and it’s been a really exciting experience. I get to host tech events for students at DMU, online now due to Covid, and have attended Google events in London and Paris which have helped me to develop my own skills.

“Recently, I was promoted to a DSC mentor for the whole of the UK, so I get to work with lead members from other nationalities as well. It’s been exhilarating.”

Her drive and determination earned Iffat the Emerging Talent Award in the 2019 DevelopHer Awards Ceremony, which recognises women who work in technology and are inspiring the next generation to join them.

As a ‘shy girl’, Iffat pushed herself out of her comfort zone from an early age. At 17 she attended her first hackathon, hosted by Microsoft, where she developed a game in 36 hours and came first.

At the 2019 DevelopHer Awards Ceremony

One month later she entered the annual University of Cambridge hackathon where she placed first in the coding competition despite being the least experienced and youngest participant there.

“I was shocked to win, but it gave me a lot of confidence to do more. Tech events can be very male-dominated so it took a lot of practice to get used to dealing with that,” she said.

When it came to choosing a degree, Iffat knew she wanted to study artificial intelligence but was worried about her grades because studying for her A-levels was a stressful time for her.

She said: “Despite getting lower grades than I wanted, I’m so grateful I qualified for DMU’s course. The content really drew me to it and I’m not sure what I would have done without this option.

“My tutor Dr Archie Khuman is the most amazing teacher I’ve had in my life. The support he has given me is incredible and he always encourages me to go after more.”

Dr Archie Khuman, Programme Leader for DMU’s Artificial Intelligence, said: “These are yet more accolades for Iffat to add to her impressive list of accomplishments, as she continues to make tremendous inroads in establishing herself as an incredibly gifted young professional.

“Iffat has always gone above and beyond what is expected and is an absolute testament to our Artificial Intelligence degree. The programme allows for individual creativity, enabling students to reach new heights, and Iffat is the embodiment of what can be achieved.”

Connect with Iffat on LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter or GitHub.

Posted on Friday 15th January 2021

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