Sunday, January 31, 2016

Extraordinary Skill

by TLC Nielsen 
January 31, 2016 Extraordinary Ordinary Blog

I met a wonderful tech person awhile back, Mrunal Gokhale. Her natural skill with technology led her to teach children how to program Bee robots at schools and libraries. She also works with students on circuitry and Lego robotics. She’s been in the United States for about 15 years and her journey is fascinating.

Welcome Mrunal!

Q) When and where did you get your start with tinkering?
A) I guess from the early years of my school life. I was lucky that the school I went to was very much focused on Science and hands-on experiments, and also the credit goes to my supportive and encouraging parents. As a child, I remember opening up a broken wall clock and an old radio with my mother just to see how it looks from inside! Somehow while growing up, I always loved to open up things to see how they look from inside.

Q) So much has changed since I was a child and you’re a bit younger. How much technology did you have available to you as a child?
A) There was very little high tech, cool technology available to me while I was growing up, mainly because it was way too expensive.  I did read a lot. Books have always been integral part of my life.

Q) How did technology influence your education?
A) Since the middle school years the subjects of physics, chemistry and biology labs were my introduction to the technology. In these labs I learned to use different tools to conduct experiments and understand the subject. Then the high school years introduced me to the world of computers. In those days in India, computer programming was a new sensation.  

Q) Your journey to Illinois has always intrigued me. How did you end up here of all places?
A) Destiny is the reason I landed up here I guess. I have been here for the past 15 years yet I never ever dreamed of leaving India for such an extended period of time! A job with Motorola is the reason I came here in the first place.

Q) Did you and your family ever consider another country or state?
A) We all love to travel and explore different cultures and lifestyles so travel plans have always been made, but we never considered staying in those places forever. I think I would love to go back to India after we retire and live in the part of the country where I grew up.

Q) Is your spouse as technologically proficient as you?
A) Oh yes, he is lot more proficient compared to me. His profession keeps him up to date with the newest technology. He belongs to a family of engineers, everyone in the past three generations of his family have been engineers.

Q) How did the two of you meet?
A) Wow, this question is taking me down memory lane. I graduated with a degree in computer science and joined an IT firm in India. On one beautiful, sunny day, we happened to meet at a common friend’s house for the first time and then kept meeting frequently.  We both were working in the field of computer programming. As we became good friends, I felt that not only our profession but our interests, family background and values were so much similar. Soon I realized this feeling was mutual. After couple of years, we both thought that we were ready to hold hands and spend the rest of our lives together!

Q) Looking ahead, what do you predict for your children’s tech lives when they reach your age?
A) Our generation is so much into smartphones and other gadgets nowadays that the newborn gets to know his or her parents and technology at the same time. We parents are literally inseparable from our smartphones.

I predict that when my children reach my age, they will prefer to communicate with and through technology rather than making eye contact or having face-to-face interactions. The next generation’s learning experience will be very much technology driven from the early toddler years. Even today, the schools are taking “hybrid” approaches where more than half of the learning is done online and the rest using paper and pencil, which is so different from education even six years ago. I am very sure the Internet will be an integral part of life for that generation. Life will sure be different.


Thanks for visiting the Extraordinary Ordinary blog here at, where ordinary folks with extraordinary stories are highlighted. If you or someone you know has a story they’d like to share, please contact TLC at soulfixer (at) yahoo (dot) com and put” lookandbe” in the subject line.

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