Why I Code
I’m slowly working on entries related to coding itself, so if you’re reading this to see what kind of code I write or what it is about programming that
I’ve been into lately, hang in there. Those entries are in the works.
Last Monday, there was a discussion on Twitter, focused around the question “Why Do You Code?”. Jeff Blankenburg was the one who threw the question out there, and he compiled all the responses into a blog post.
My response was that it’s my inner engineer that drives me to code. My background is engineering – Computer Science and Engineering Technology to be exact. But, whether I wanted to admit it or not, I’ve always had the mindset of an engineer.
I like building things and taking things apart to see how they work. For me, knowing that these steel trusses would lead to this house was something I liked seeing come together. Demolishing a brick wall with sledge hammers for that same summer program was just as satisfying for my inner engineer, as I learned a lot behind demolition. Working with the masons and mortaring a foundation and getting trapped in the bottom really challenged my inner engineer. With the masons and my long time friends, we came up with the solution to build a makeshift staircase out of the remaining cinder blocks. Trying to build that and then trusting each other to get out safely just added to the experience.
Before my work with Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity, though, I knew about my inner engineer. Yes, like many of my guy friends (but none of my girl friends), I played with Legos while growing up. There was some satisfaction of taking the bricks and building them into something like a restaurant with a kitchen downstairs. (What? You didn’t have the Paradisa sets?) Even now, I can still play with legos on my computer.
But for me, the part that pushed me more into the computer engineering side rather than civil engineering (the building, the houses, etc.) was that I had realized at a young age that I picked up programming concepts long before they were formally introduced to me. We learned about programming in 8th grade, and my teacher had pointed it out to me that I really had a good grasp of it. Then again, I managed to work through the book in a short amount of time. Of course, doing the fun things – like programming graphics – really motivated me to get towards the end. Ah the memories…
Having picked up the language and an innate understanding of how programming works, I knew that I might eventually end up doing something with it. A few years later, I met a guy who suggested I learn HTML, as it would be cleaner for me to write it straight rather than let Adobe PageMill do it. What was weird was that the guy had no idea that I even knew what programming was – I was just in charge of news content for the high school website and was taught to use PageMill. So on his recommendation, I picked up a book and learned HTML. Soon enough, I went from keeping track of the content in the news section to making sure all the code was simplified HTML. The head student in charge of the project didn’t go into programming – he’s a system and network administrator now, but he still encourages me to follow my inner programmer. From HTML to supporting me now as I work in C#, he’s been by my side through the various languages. We did end up teaming up together in college for a programming project, using PHP. But he mostly leaves the coding to me and rarely touches it.
As a programmer, I’m still putting together my love for building things and seeing them come together. Instead of physical buildings, my buildings are programs. And I still get the satisfaction in the end when I get a satisfied user.
Now you have a basic idea as to why I code. In the next few entries, I promise to finally get into coding concepts and code samples.