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By Marika Daniel, NCCU Communications Intern

Katie Kilroy is a service manager in research computing who has been with the Office of Information Technology (OIT) for almost four years. Kilroy was recently recruited to the Code+ program where she serves as a team lead. A team lead is an advisor who guides the students to success on their projects. With limited software development skills but with a range of people skills, Kilroy is proud of her position as team lead and has been learning new programs and skills.

Code+ is a 10-week, project-based summer program for undergraduate students at Duke who are interested in technology and coding. During these 10 weeks, students are split into teams to complete a project while sharing their knowledge and learning with IT professionals.

On Kilroy’s team there are two team leads, a subject matter expert and former Code+ team lead, and five students. The leads are responsible for helping students with their projects.

“I have been a team lead for about five weeks, and I have enjoyed every minute of it. I never thought about joining the program until I had a conversation with my colleagues who informed me that Code+ needed IT professionals with skills outside of software development,” Kilroy said.

“I felt supported by my supervisors and co-leads who are both software developers, who helped me transition into my role as a team lead. I was very nervous at first, but the transition was smooth, and I was able to establish rapport with the students who are great!” Kilroy said.

The project Kilroy’s team is developing aims to leverage Zoom to create an app. The app ReView will feature recordings of classes and lectures stored in Zoom. Students can search for recordings by typing in phrases or keywords related to their topic. It also includes filters or tags to filter out by date, professor, and topic to quickly complete the search. This project makes life easier for students if they miss important information from a class and it is a good way to review notes, according to Kilroy.

Kilroy is able to do what she loves best, which is to help the students, arranging one-on-one time with the students on the team.

“We discuss a range of things from their thought processes to their career goals and aspirations. I find it gratifying to help students think about their future,” Kilroy said.

Kilroy believes this program is exceptional for students and IT professionals because it helps expand the students’ interest and is a fun way for IT professionals to learn about the students outside of the classroom.

“I often hear students say they want to be in a certain role in their industry. Conversations like these inspire me to share knowledge about information technology roles, so I can inform students on what’s possible. There really are a wide range of IT jobs outside of software development,” Kilroy said.

Although Code+ is an engaging project-based learning environment, there are many trials and challenges ahead. A challenge for Kilroy includes a lack of time and a lack of knowledge in software development. She says working with another team lead with complementary skill has helped her help her team succeed.

"The time it takes to lead this student team can vary. On average I take a few hours every day to educate myself on what the students are working on -- but I always feel like I could know more."

Kilroy has so much passion when working with students that she feels working with them has increased her professional and social skills.

“The areas where I have worked have always been male-dominated and not diverse in age. I’ve worked in network engineering, infrastructure, and research computing for more than twenty-five years. My motivation and passion leave me wanting to help others gain opportunities to learn,” Kilroy said.

Kilroy adds, “When it comes down to the moment of the final presentation we’ll all see how much more creative and knowledgeable they’ve become since the first week of working together. During this program they weren’t bounded by rules, so I want to see where this application leads them and if it opens up new paths.”

If you’re interested in becoming a team lead, contact