Developer Circles Toronto
A self-taught coder unleashes her passion for AR and VR technologies
Some people are naturally curious and this is absolutely true of Lissa Ng. Always wondering how things are built and what could be done to make them work better, she found herself keenly interested in technology, a field that appealed to her inquisitive nature. While taking time off from her career to care for her two young boys, Lissa taught herself to code and then combined that knowledge into MentallyVR, a virtual reality therapy platform.
Being a woman in technology
Despite having rockstar skills, Toronto-based Lissa vividly remembers feeling so insecure about her programming acumen that she was reluctant to attend meetups. Fortunately, her hunger and drive to learn more prevailed, and she overcame her initial reluctance.
Coming from a non-technical background made navigating the world of technology challenging, especially when trying to land on a specific path to follow. “Lacking a mentor in the profession meant I went in loops, and doubted myself to the point of rethinking my career move entirely,” Lissa says.
However, she soldiered on and decided to use free online resources to build a basic portfolio that later helped her secure a scholarship with a leading online education provider, where she received a certificate in front-end development. Amazed by the latest virtual reality technologies, Lissa opted to focus all her efforts on the tech behind it. “VR amazed me. I would go to sleep and wake up the next day thinking about it. That’s when I knew this was it.”
Once Lissa found her passion for virtual reality, she realized the importance of immersing herself in the tech community and joined her local Developer Circle in Toronto. There, she quickly embraced opportunities to connect with developers of all levels to grow her skills and found mentors and peers who encouraged and supported her.
Not long after joining Developer Circles, Lissa decided to take part in Facebook’s Oculus 2019 Hackathon. Her team won with a project based on MentallyVR’s first prototype and scored an invitation to the F8 2019 Hackathon and Conference.
At F8, Lissa connected with fellow tech enthusiasts from around the world, including several women with similar backgrounds and goals. Together, they built an app that uses VR headsets to offer members of the military, serving remotely, the experience of being home for the holidays. Inspired by her experience at F8, Lissa returned home and applied to co-lead her local Developer Circle in Toronto.
Lissa says she now “sees a bigger picture and dreams new dreams, ones that [she] feels very capable of achieving”. Her goal is to take her virtual reality platform to those suffering from mental health issues and have no access to resources. “Having the opportunities and support of the Developer Circles community has been crucial in my journey of becoming a VR and AR-focused developer,” Lissa adds.