Immersed in Innovation: Duke in Silicon Valley Chronicles an Unforgettable First Week

Abigail Grubbs/ May 25, 2023/ 2023


Prepare to be captivated as we take you on an electrifying journey deep into the heart of technological innovation: Silicon Valley. Get ready to witness the transformative power of an experience that will leave you breathless. I am Wanghley Soares Martins, a passionate and driven student majoring in Electrical and Computer Engineering and Computer Science with a Certificate in Innovation & Entrepreneurship, I am here to tell you that this adventure has been nothing short of mind-blowing. The networking opportunities and knowledge I am acquiring through this exhilarating learn-by-doing experience have surpassed my wildest expectations.

Embracing the Team:

Indoor group shot of 9 students posing in front of some art

Teamwork makes the dreamwork

Imagine being assigned to a dynamic team, a collective of brilliant minds, each with their own unique talents and perspectives. Together, we embarked on a daring mission: to revolutionize the user experience in restaurants for Allergood, led by the visionary Michelle Addison, Founder & CEO, and guided by the expertise of Professor Kathie Amato. The synergy within our group is awe-inspiring, as we collaborate passionately to solve complex problems and unleash innovation.

Venturing into the Silicon Valley Ecosystem:

Outdoor shot on a roof of 10 students at LinkedIn

Duke in Silicon Valley site visit

Silicon Valley, the birthplace of groundbreaking ideas and revolutionary companies, welcomed us with open arms. Our journey led us to Sprinter Health, where we had the privilege of engaging with Max Cohen and Cameron Behar, Co-Founders, and Duke alumni. Their stories and insights unveiled a world where healthcare and technology converge, igniting a fire within us to create meaningful impact in these transformative industries.

Design Thinking Unleashed:

Overhead shot of a table with colorful fake fruits and vegetables for menu planning

Design Exercise

Prepare to have your creative boundaries pushed, your problem-solving skills honed, and your innovation unleashed. Classes during the first week unleashed the power of design thinking like never before. From real-world challenges to practical examples, we delved headfirst into the methodology, mastering the art of ideation and empathetic problem-solving. Through a learn-by-doing approach, we embarked on a thrilling journey to transform ideas into tangible solutions, as our minds expanded and innovation became second nature.

Alumni Connections and Inspirational Dinners:

Picture an unforgettable evening filled with warmth, wisdom, and inspiration. We were privileged to share a dinner with esteemed Duke alumni who graciously shared their remarkable experiences and invaluable insights. Their stories of resilience, perseverance, and success resonated deep within us, reminding us that dreams can indeed become reality. These connections have become the pillars of support and guidance as we pave our own paths to success.

Unveiling the Giants: LinkedIn, OpenAI, and Paradigm:

Selfie of Wanghley in front of "in" sign at LinkedIn

At the LinkedIn Visit

Prepare to be awestruck as we venture into the very heart of technological giants. Our journey led us to LinkedIn, a behemoth of professional networking, where the magnitude of its operations left us spellbound. The networking opportunities and profound knowledge shared within those hallowed walls opened doors to unimaginable possibilities. At OpenAI, we glimpsed into a future driven by generative artificial intelligence, fueling our imaginations and propelling us toward uncharted territories. And at Paradigm, we witnessed the power of diversity, equity, and inclusion, understanding how innovation can reshape the world for the better.


Are you ready to embark on the adventure of a lifetime? Don’t hesitate, for this is your golden ticket to an extraordinary world of innovation, connection, and personal growth. As an aspiring engineer and entrepreneur, the Silicon Valley air has infused me with an indescribable energy, propelling me to new heights as a person and as a visionary. This journey has already shaped the trajectory of my startup idea, fueling it with the methodologies learned in class and the wisdom of industry titans. If you’re wondering if this experience will be worth it, let me assure you—it will surpass your wildest dreams. In a single, captivating week, I’ve absorbed knowledge equivalent to an entire semester, all while having the time of my life.

So, step into the world of Duke in Silicon Valley, where innovation knows no bounds, friendships are forged in the crucible of ambition, and ideas evolve into tangible enterprises. Join us as we defy the ordinary, reshape the future, and leave an indelible mark on the ever-evolving world of technology and beyond. The time is now. Will you seize this extraordinary opportunity?

Wanghley is a rising sophomore at the Duke Pratt School of Engineering hailing from Brasi­lia, DF, Brazil. He is a gifted social entrepreneur, inventor, speaker, young scientist, and aspiring engineer, driven by an unwavering passion for using technology to solve real problems and improve people’s lives. Wanghley’s mission is to leverage his skills and experience in entrepreneurship, innovation, computer science, electrical/biomedical engineering, and quantum computing to develop pioneering solutions that better the lives of individuals and communities. He is constantly pushing boundaries and challenging conventional thinking to make a positive impact on society. Wanghley is known to put his skills into practice by developing relationships, listening to customers, designing innovative solutions on his computer, and collaborating with others on his team. He strives to use his passion, problem-solving skills, and technical expertise to create meaningful solutions that make a difference in the world.

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