One-Question Interviews: Undergrad Ishika Mittal

Smiling student with University of Toronto mug.
Undergrad Ishika Mittal (Year 3 CompE) is deeply passionate about data privacy and decentralization. She was part of a team that won TreeHacks, an annual hackathon at Stanford University. (Photo supplied)

MARCH 7, 2024

Congratulations on winning TreeHacks 2024! Can you take us through the experience of participating?

The selection process was intense, with only 1,500 students chosen from over 12,000 applicants. The email telling me I’d been selected had unfortunately ended up in my spam folder. I didn’t stumble upon it until two days later, just two hours before the submission deadline and confirmation of participation. I didn’t even have a U.S. Visa.

With only 15 days before departure, I wrote letters and made numerous calls to the consulate daily, aiming to secure an expedited visa appointment. Eventually, my persistence paid off, and the consulate granted me an earlier appointment. I’m an international student, and the financial burden of this trip weighed heavily on me. However, the steadfast support from the ECE department and their financial assistance made me confident I could go. Even a stomach infection on the day of departure couldn’t stop me, and I finally reached Stanford!

In today's world, the threat of document loss and data breaches looms large, resulting in billions of dollars lost globally each year due to leaks and fraud. I've been deeply passionate about data privacy and decentralization and thinking about this issue for a while. At Treehacks, I teamed up with four individuals who shared the same drive to find a solution. Recognizing that blockchain could hold the key, our team dived deep into a completely new tech stack, dedicating 36 hours of hard work to develop a project on Avalanche blockchain. Our solution received high praise from both judges and investors, ultimately earning us the title of "Best Consumer Use Case for Blockchain." It was an incredible journey.