2012 is already heavily associated with the London Olympics, but for greater relevance to many developing engineers, it is also ‘Code Year’.
Code Year (#Codeyear) is a New Year’s resolution that challenges people to learn enough code to write their own apps by the end of the year. The initiative, launched by NY based Code Academy (nominated for ‘Best New Startup’), has attracted over 350,000 people to sign up to the weekly online, interactive lessons. One of the highest profile sign-ups was Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of NYC, which prompted our own, beloved Boris to express interest in taking the course if re-elected.
So, why is #Codeyear, and coding in general, of relevance to developing engineers?
Coding is the basis of so many things that engineers use daily, ranging from this website, to your CAE package of choice, to the point where it has been named ‘The New Latin’. It allows us to automate repetitive processes, perform millions of calculations in seconds, and simulate complex systems. I personally use coding (VBA & MATLAB mainly) on a near daily basis, developing tools for myself and my colleagues. One of my personal bugbears is doing the simple things stupidly, and coding has allowed me to remove countless manual steps, producing a more efficient and consistent end product.
#Codeyear has come at, as far as I am concerned, a pivotal time for ICT education in this country. Google’s’ CEO, Eric Schmidt, has publicly criticised education in the UK, saying it is holding back the UK’s potential in the new digital economy. Our ICT education in schools focuses on use of software packages, but we should be promoting increased focus on computer sciences. This is a view shared by education secretary, Michael Gove, who describes the current curriculum as “demotivating and dull”.
The effects of this education deficit are all too prevalent in many engineering offices. I have seen countless developing engineers, at all stages in their careers, performing laborious, error prone & repetitive tasks that could be automated by a dozen lines of code, or simply being left aghast by MATLABs red text. I would never expect all engineers to be capable of writing next years Call of Duty rival, but I do feel that we could all do with a better appreciation of coding.
And what better why of getting started that signing up to #Codeyear for 2012?