Ourania Stouraiti: Greek Youth Taking a Big STEP at Google

Ourania (Rano) Stouraiti grew up in Athens and graduated from the Moraitis School International Baccalaureate diploma program in 2019. While a student in Greece, she was a volunteer tutor of Computer Science for young immigrant students and a Taekwondo athlete.

She moved to New York City in September 2019 to attend Columbia University’s Fu Foundation School of Engineering. Since then, she has been pursuing her studies in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. On campus, she is a member of the executive board of Columbia University Formula Racing as the High Voltage Chief Engineer, enjoying leading this team in designing and building an electric race car.

She is also involved in research at the Creative Machines Laboratory, where she is developing a multi-material 3D printing machine.

Last summer, she interned as a Software Engineer at Duet, a California-based startup that assists refugees in Greece in rebuilding their lives.

The National Herald: Where are you interning this summer?

Ourania (Rano) Stouraiti: This summer, I am interning at Google. I participate in STEP, which stands for Student Training in Engineering Program. It is a twelve-week technical internship for first and second-year undergraduate students. I am presented with a challenging yet fascinating opportunity to contribute to a company on cutting-edge technology.

TNH: Give us an outline of your activities and some of your best achievements.

RS: The first achievement that altered my perspective was my admission to the School of Engineering at Columbia University. Being a student at this school has been an increasingly constructive experience which, aside from deep technical knowledge, has taught me the principle of engineering for humanity. It has also given me the opportunity to interact with stellar professors and fellow students, and has given me access to the pursuit of many possibilities. One of them is my involvement in a student organization, Columbia University Formula Racing.

As the Chief Engineer of High Voltage of the team’s electric vehicle, I am involved in designing and manufacturing multiple car components. I particularly enjoy my role because I can work closely with many team members and exchange ideas.

Another on-campus activity of particular value to me was my participation in research at the Creative Machines Laboratory in the spring of 2021. This was my first exposure to university research and allowed me to explore the application of electrostatics in the creation of an innovative 3D printing machine. 

Lastly, my latest achievement is being hired to work at Google. After a rigorous interview process, I was delighted to be selected as an intern, an opportunity that I view as a leap into contributing to state-of-the-art technology.

TNH: What are you currently working on?

RS: I am currently working on my intern project at Google as a Software Engineer on the Stadia Infrastructure team. Given that I cannot disclose details about it, I will say that I am working on the server-side of the product, which is critical in ensuring its speed and reliability. After the completion of my internship, I will continue my studies and extracurricular activities. I will also begin seeking internship opportunities for the following summer.

TNH: Where do you see yourself in the future?

RS: When looking at what the future has in store for me, I prioritize growth as an individual both in terms of knowledge and personality. 

When it comes to my career, I am becoming more and more confident that engineering is the type of work that I will enjoy waking up to every morning. I also feel the drive to continue learning and would thus like to pursue a postgraduate degree. 

My dream is to use my skills to impact the development of groundbreaking technology while gaining life experiences by traveling and collaborating with new people.

TNH: Do you believe in the notion of progress? What is its relationship with evolution?

RS: Progress is a critical notion to me. Be it on a societal or personal level. Progress is the foundation of prosperity. I perceive progress to be the individual steps taken towards achieving a particular goal. 

Evolution is the result of accumulated progress and occurs when goals are achieved and become impactful. An example of engineering progress in the electromotive industry is the development of more efficient vehicles. Continuous progress will lead to [leaps that constitute] an evolution, through the vast increase in the ownership of electric vehicles, and the environmental benefit that will result from it.

TNH: What kind of approach do you bring to your work?

RS: Throughout the years, as a student and now as a professional, I approach my work with enthusiasm and organization. I set clear goals and design the steps that I need to take, but I am also not afraid to review my plans, which happens more often than not in engineering.

I have also noticed that the best way for me to perform is on a team. The mutual benefit that results from discussions among individuals when problem-solving is of particular value to me.

TNH: What are your hobbies?

RS: Sailing has been a hobby of mine since childhood. It is a very liberating experience that brings me in contact with nature and remains one of the first things I do whenever I visit Greece.

While in New York City, which thrills me with its liveliness, I love to explore by participating in outdoor activities and visiting with friends some of the most wonderful museums in the world.

TNH: What is the most significant value your parents gave you?

RS: It is not an easy task to pinpoint one value, but I have to say that critical in my upbringing has been gratitude. My parents have taught me to appreciate the beauty of every moment and respect the opportunities that I am granted. My family has constantly reminded me to live my life to the fullest and has supported me to no end in doing what I love, something that I will always be thankful for.


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