The fourth grade students at Dry Creek Elementary were captivated by the man on the screen who was chatting with them from a conference room in California. They were captivated partly because he’s known as “the father of Google apps” and partly because he used to be one of them.
“I had no idea that he went to Dry Creek. That’s really cool!” said fourth grader Noah Gallardo, after a recent “Google Hangout” or video conference with Rajen Sheth, a product manager at Google Enterprise and a graduate of the Cherry Creek School District.
Sheth attended Dry Creek Elementary, West Middle School and graduated from Cherry Creek High School in 1994, before going on to earn a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering and a Master’s degree in Computer Science at Stanford University. He’s been with Google since 2004.
“It all starts in elementary school,” Sheth told the students. “If you work hard and learn about math and science, you can do amazing things when you grow up.”
Sheth has certainly done amazing things, including creating Google’s Gmail and other office applications, which are used by more than 5 million businesses worldwide, and Google Chromebooks, laptop computers now being used in school districts across the country, including Cherry Creek Schools.
“It was really fun and an honor to talk to an inventor,” said Gallardo.
But Sheth, who started learning computer programming at Dry Creek when he was in first grade, told the students he learned as much from his failures as he did from his successes. He told them he tried invent a time machine and a wind tunnel while he was at Dry Creek, but neither worked. However, when he was in high school, he built a wind tunnel that was selected as one of 40 finalists in the prestigious Westinghouse Science Talent Search.
Sheth’s parents, who still live in the Dry Creek area, watched as their son answered questions from the students about the app he’s most proud of (Gmail), the highlight of his career so far (Google apps and Chromebooks) and how he decides what apps to create.
“Brainstorming,” said Sheth. “Everyone throws out ideas. The rule is there are no bad ideas. Then we narrow it down to the best ideas that are useful to people. If they’re useful, then we try to build the simplest possible product.”
Sheth’s mother, Ravindra Sheth, said her son is a good role model for the students, and a perfect example of why perseverance is important.
“He believed in himself and never gave up,” said Ravindra Sheth. “Believe in yourself to achieve.”
Posted January 27, 2014.