Ever since I can remember, I have always been fascinated by the idea of hacking into a computer. As a little girl, I revered film characters who could decrypt code and access secret governmental information. My attraction was no doubt caused by the abundance of James Bond films playing in the living room. In first grade, I familiarized myself with Scratch, a program for kids to explore animation and encourage creativity. I wasn’t exposed to any other programming for many years.
Building was my first love. In middle school, I joined the engineering club, where I constructed bridges and programmed robots. I enjoyed the hands on building, while also integrating concepts of math. As a strong math and science student, engineering was an ideal hobby for me. My summers consisted of STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) camps.. By the end of middle school, I was confident that my future held environmental and civil engineering. But when I found out my older brother was going to study EE and CE in college, I began to consider another path.
Our lives are heavily influenced by technology: everyone LOVES video games, social media, and apps. When I first got an iPod, it’s only purpose was to toy with games. I downloaded hundreds of apps, tested them out for a few hours, then deleted them when I got bored. I loved being the user, but I wanted to create my own worlds to explore. I began to teach myself programming, I created shapes, which became animate; I added dimension and color. Armed with this limited knowledge, I went off to summer school to code.
This coding school was where I truly discovered my passion. For two months, I sat with my laptop for eight hours each day and programmed. By the end of the summer, I had built my foundation in computer science. It was the most amazing experience: I recreated Flappy Bird, Instagram, and built my own app. Things I thought took years to build, took only weeks. Every moment– sitting at my desk, typing characters, solving problems– I loved. It was a game for me. I had never been so engaged.
Coding probably means something different to you. It might conjure an image of multiple Einstein’s elaborately inputting millions of characters into a computer and solving world crises. Yet in my experience, programming can be used for many things that aren’t so lofty. For example, an iOS developer brings her imagination to life, draws her ideas out, and transfers them into graphic kinetic objects. This world of computer science is amazing with endless possibilities. I know I wouldn’t be myself without coding in my life.
(Copyright 2017 Genevieve Koffman)