Alumnus Zach Berke (class of ’94) -- an entrepreneur who has spent the last decade building and working with technology startups around the globe -- told Middle School students that geeks often bring significant change in the world such as Bill Gates, Mohammed Yunus, and Steve Jobs.
“We can be geeky, and be change-makers too,” he said.
Zach founded Exygy that builds customized software to help change-makers achieve goals. He told students his company strives to “do what we love, be passionate about it, and at the same time make peoples’ lives better too.”
To illustrate his point, Zach provided students with an example of his company building an application called Free2Work, which enables consumers to scan a barcode on items such as candy bars and toys, to learn about how that product is manufactured, particularly if it involved unfair labor practices.
“Free2Work provides consumers with information on how products relate to modern-day slavery,” Exygy’s website states. “Through the site you can learn how your favorite brands are working to address forced and child labor. You can additionally access in-depth information about industry issues through our industry pages and news feeds, and you can learn more about trafficking and supply chains through our blog posts.”
Another of one of Exygy’s projects involved building computer kiosks containing information and resources found on the Internet. They are used for educational purposes in rural villages that don’t have access to the web. The United Nations Children’s Fund distributed these boxes packed with an abundance of difference informational sources in Uganda, which was a joint project of UNICEF’s Basic Education section and Uganda’s Ministry of Education and Sports.
A San Francisco native, Zach graduated from Dartmouth College with a degree in Computational Science, where he focused his energy on pushing for greater collaboration between the computer science department and the rest of the science faculty. His intellectual passion lies in areas where computation meets large volumes of scientific data in genetics, proteomics, and functional brain imaging. Zach has received awards for his research in computational neuroscience as well as for his pioneering research and pushing the limits of large-scale WiFi networking.