Cracking the code


photo by Jae Rhee

Rochita Ghosh

In a world marked by the dependence and growth of technology, its maintenance is key. Code is the backbone of this technology, which is why the skill of coding has gained an interest within the job sector.
Jim Noel, vice president of software services at Veterans United has taken note of an increased demand for programmers and software developers.
With technology constantly evolving, Veterans United wants their equipment to advance with it, which is why they hire people with the necessary skills.
Positions for programmers are beginning to decline because software developers know not only coding but can also do much more.
“It’s not just about coding. It’s about understanding web interface,” Noel said. “It’s understanding mobile and the database behind the application.”
This reasoning is why the CACC, or Columbia Area Career Center, offers computer science classes. Nathaniel Graham, a programming teacher at the CACC, believes coding is a vital skill to learn, because people interact with it constantly.
“Programming allows you to be easily employed,” Graham said. “The big thing in life is to be happy with what you’re doing, and programming isn’t applied to any specific thing, so if you can program, you can be in automotive if cars are your thing. If your passion is fashion, you can absolutely program in the industry.”
For instance, the culinary department at the CACC reached out to the student programmers and asked them to modify Google Hangouts, a video chatting program.
Graham believes anyone can learn programming, but because coding is picky and involves math, people are reluctant to try it. However, the extent of math depends on the code’s purpose.
“High math skills can lead to greater work in [physics and graphic] engines,” Graham said.
This appealed to freshman Pranav Patel, who started learning how to code in seventh grade after thinking about what he wanted to do with his life.
He researched technology growth and realized the prevalence it would take later in the future. As he learned more about coding, his love for the skill grew.
“The reason I like coding is that you get to relax and not [feel pressured],” Patel said. “…it’s like you’re making a recipe for your food, and the food is the website. Let’s say I make pasta. I can add so much into pasta to make it taste good. There’s so many options you can put into the code to create something awesome.”
There are some elements that Patel dislikes. Creating a simple webpage can take many hours and also requires knowing many components of coding. Patel still enjoys it and appreciates what he learns.
“You learn a lot from coding. It’s not just, ‘I made that mistake so it’s not working’. In coding it’s not as obvious,” Patel said. “It takes a lot of time to just make one box because it’s like, do I put [the character] here? Or here? It has to match the webpage, or it’s going to produce an error.”
Others share Patel’s perspective, evident through how many are enrolled in programming classes.
When Graham first started teaching, the school offered few computer science courses and students had little interest.
As time went on, the classes grew in size and variety. Now, he has four sections of C++.
Noel believes the number of people registered is not enough.
Despite this influx of interest, Noel says the amount of jobs in the industry still outweighs the amount of people applying. He believes there are a number of reasons behind the imbalance.
“It’s a combination between the higher education system, and the profession itself not promoting the role and availability as well as it could,” Noel said. “Few people look to step outside of what’s traditional, and [it’s difficult] to find people with passion around that and cultivate it.”
He hopes to lessen the gap by partnering with local colleges and universities. This allows him to provide internships for interested students and edit curriculum concerning the industry. Noel also wants to do the same for high school students.
Graham believes if the interest grows, classes that were cut initially, may trickle back into the curriculum. He likes that with these classes, students have an opportunity to learn something applicable to whatever career path they choose.
“Whatever your passion is,” Graham said, “you can tie to it these skills you learn in software and engineering development.”
By Rochita Ghosh