Position: Vice President of Engineering at Trackr, a 1200+ person software development company in Texas
Thinkful Coursework: Front-End Web Development, Ruby on Rails, iOS Development
Application of Thinkful Skills: Build Ruby on Rails side project, Understand iOS and manage expansion of his company’s iOS app
Prior Coding Experience: Decade of experience as PHP Developer
Why did your boss sponsor you to join Thinkful?
My company sees it as ongoing education. We have a sizeable budget for training. Training is a way for me to expand my skill set and broaden what I’m capable of doing for my company.
Why was our program a good fit you as a Vice President of Engineering?
The problem with most online learning is that it’s all based in a vacuum. You build what they’re teaching you to build on video. When you run into a problem, you’re alone to figure it out. Thinkful was very intriguing to me because it set out to solve that.
Keith Galloway: System Adminstrator + Social Media
This Video Game quiz has an incredible user experience. After hitting “play game,” the user is given specific instructions and provided with an in-depth bio on the character following each question. We can’t wait to see Keith’s API Hack!
Andrew Shield: Aspiring Front End Developer from New Zealand!
Location: Toronto, Canada
Interests Outside of Programming: Reading, watching baseball (130 days until the new season!), guitar, and sleight-of-hand card tricks.
Why did you want to become a mentor at Thinkful?
I love teaching. I enjoy getting in another person’s head and trying to figure out what they’re thinking, and responding accordingly. That’s why I also enjoy writing. So when I saw the opening for a mentor, I thought it fit well with what I love to do and what I was already doing — blogging at Impressive Webs, maintaining a weekly newsletter, etc.
What’s your secret weapon as a programmer?
Two words: Solve problems.
In other words, I don’t pay more than ordinary attention to so-called “best practices” which sometimes are based on theories and principles that have no real benefit. So I try to just solve the problem at hand. Yes, there are many “best practices” that I personally advocate, and follow, but solving problems should always trump best practices. Pragmatism over theory always wins, especially when doing client work.
Jeremy Axmacher: From IT to UI - he does it all!
In less than two months, Jeremy has already completed the Front-End course. For his final project, he was able build an interactive portfolio that includes his last 3 Thinkful projects. Check them out to see how he was able to implement the D3.js and Angular.js frameworks!
Daniel Pontoriero: Inspiration through Hack
For his API Hack project, Daniel learned to implement Youtube’s API to create this incredible search engine. Just type in a concept that you’d like to watch a TED Talk about and prepare yourself for the burst of inspiration and curiosity!
When I saw the failure of healthcare.gov I thought, Maybe now engineering will get the respect it deserves. The consumer portal critical to Obama’s Affordable Care Act, which has been failing each day since its release two weeks ago is yet another display of why high-quality engineering matters. This calamity – avoidable, predictable and a disaster for our President, his signature legislation and the public – is proof that engineering, and the process of creating great software, matters much more than people realize.
Good process engenders high-quality products. When you see a broken image on a website, or an automated email that doesn’t make sense it’s not just the email that’s broken. It’s the process of which it is the result. Maybe the developer was too busy to pay attention, or maybe QA has a bug. Maybe the writer introduced an error just before the message was sent, or maybe the server wasn’t prepared for the load. Regardless of the specific reason the fix will come in the form of a better process that makes this error less likely to happen next time.
The same is true for healthcare.gov. We’re now learning that the site had little testing and will take months to fix. Eventually, the teams working on this will get there, but unless they’re fixing the process through which this mistake occurred in the first place it’s bound to happen again.
Better software across all industries, to me, is what the excitement around Learn to Code is trying to achieve. It doesn’t mean everyone will be writing software, but it does mean everyone will be listening to engineers. Beyond the celebrity interviews, teaching everyone to code is about teaching everyone to respect the difficulty, subtly and importance of thinking about engineering as a core competency, not a simple add on to the process of serving consumers. Other countries like England are already doing this. They’re beating us in their respect for data, engineering and process, and it shows in everything from consumer’s interactions with the NHS to the legibility of their gas bills. “Learn to Code” is the primal scream of engineers who need better process to do better. It’s about giving engineering a seat at the table.
Maybe Obama’s “tech surge" is the right approach – it’s certainly a broad enough PR phrase to encompass truly refactoring the process to produce good, stable software. The problem is that we won’t know for a while. That’s the thing about process: from the outside you only get to judge it by the outcome, and new outcomes for healthcare.gov appear far away.
Instead, what we can do is continue demanding more respect for engineering and an engineering mindset everywhere. If more people knew how hard it is to create high-quality software we would be given a greater voice in its creation. How often do business school students who’ve never written a line of HTML ask engineers to “just build them a website for their great idea?” At core, theirs is a lack of respect for engineering, and one that Learn to Code promises to ameliorate. That’s unquestionably a good thing, and I think we’re making progress. Hopefully, the failure and fixing of healthcare.gov will help, too.
Front-End Web Development:
Shonak Patel: Blast from the Past!
Yet another benefit of hashtags in Instagram: GREAT student projects. In this API Hack, Shonak was able to travel back in “Insta-Time” with a retro DeLorean. [For optimal entertainment, navigate through the timeline with your arrow keys]
Kyree S. Williams: Grocery List Time!
With a background in design, Kyree completed the first third of our curriculum in only two weeks! In his most recent project, Kyree used his Javscript + jQuery skills to build his own shopping list app. Marvel at his sleek design.
Casey Wilson: Think You’re Smart?
Sami Bashraheel: Hi! Going Shopping?
Students learn how to accept user input through a form using jQuery. Sami created his own version of the Shopping List app with delete/save options. See what happens when you resize your screen!
Interested in learning Python and web development with a mentor? Learn more on our site.
Location: Leicester, England
Current job: university instructor, freelance artistic coder, open source aficionado
Interests outside of programming: playing the ukulele, making wine, and occasionally managing to finish the Guardian crossword
You’re both a programmer and an artist, and have produced amazing digital art that was featured in the V&A and London Underground. How did you first get interested in “creative coding”?
I did a physics degree as an undergraduate, and I started spending more time on programming — it was more interesting than physics! When I wasn’t coding, I played in punk bands and made electronic music. Those two things eventually converged as I got into the programming side of making music. I took Master’s course on interactive audiovisual compositions, and I’ve been weaving a route between tech and art ever since.
What was one of your early artistic coding projects?
I did a commission for the opening of an art center in Leicester. I recorded sounds from various landmarks in Leicester — a busy market, a rugby pitch, places like that — and wrote code that turned those sounds into 3D representations. We made those into lenticular prints — pictures that can appear 3D and change depending on where you’re looking at them from.