Kudos for Kodu!


HappyValley2011Today I became a hero!  Sadly, not because of any personal accomplishment.  I was simply a messenger.  I was invited to speak at a special assembly for all students at Happy Valley School in Peoria, AZ.  The topic?  Officially it was “How to Prepare to Become a Software Engineer” (yawn).  I accomplished my objective, but I was sneaky about it.  From their perspective, my presentation was “How to Make Games for XBOX 360” (oohs ahhhs hoorays).

Thanks to a suggestion from Lynn Langit, a Microsoft Developer Evangelist on the west coast, I introduced my eager audience to Kodu, a visual programming platform for developing games on the XBOX.

kodu_programming_ui

During my demo of how easy it is to learn “visual conditional logic”, the entire assembly became very quiet – something a few teachers commented never happened before.  When the presentation was over, so many students approached me with excitement, and assured me they were going to make some cool games.  One student approached me sadly and said “I don’t have an XBOX, I only have a PS3.”  The students weren’t the only ones wanting in the action.  Some teachers and parents also asked a few questions about the platform (there is a gamer in all of us).

UPDATE!

Dear Mike,

Thank you so much for the fabulous assemblies last Friday. Many of the children are still talking about it and Mr. McCurley has raved that it was the best special assembly we’ve had! We greatly appreciate you, and the time you spent enlightening our students about the wonderful world of technology.
Thanks again!

All the best,

Marcia Phillips
Happy Valley School

It was a great time, and the energy level was contagious.  At the end, one student asked me for an autograph.  As I said, I am just the messenger.  Nonetheless, I obliged and signed away.  Is that so wrong?

Comments (8)

  1. FremyCompany says:

    I'm not involved at all in the process and I don't know exactly who you're and what's your everyday work is, but I wanted to say you I read this post by pure hasard and I'm quite pleased about it. I'm a future Software Engineer and I find it quite difficult to explain to all others future engineers why I fell in love with software engineering.

    I really hope I'll sometime get a day an occassion like the one you had : be able to explain the love we have for our job! Thanks to make me dream…

    François

  2. Palermo4 says:

    François,

    Thanks for your comment!  Keep up the passion and keep me updated with your progress.  You just inspired me with an idea.  I will see if I can get some other software engineers to leave a comment here as to why they love being a software engineer.  Stay tuned!

  3. Robert McLaws says:

    I think being a software developer is one of the greatest jobs in the world. Your job is to solve problems. Constantly. Every minute you're coding, you are using creating thinking and reasoning skills to:

    a) Identify a problem.

    b) Identify possible solutions.

    c) Prototype a solution.

    d) Test the solution to see if it actually solves the problem.

    e) Refine the solution to be the best it can.

    f) Lather, rinse, repeat.

    I mean, your job is to do all of the hard work required in order to make other's lives easier. It can be tough, at times, to keep from getting caught up in all the daily BS that goes along with that task… And every day is a different challenge. But that's what we do.

    When you push that "Deploy" button (in some shape or form) and the code you've worked on goes into production, and people start using (and hopefully liking) what you've built… it can be a truly amazing feeling. It's why I wake up every morning and jump back onto my computer… there is always a problem to solve.

    Robert McLaws

    Gibraltar Software (http://www.gibraltarsoftware.com)

  4. Palermo4 says:

    Robert,

    It's really true… we spend most of our time indirectly making others happy.  That kind of feeling is awesome.  Thanks for answering the call to inspire.  There are many students reading this blog post.  

  5. FremyCompany says:

    @Robert: Yeah, it's absolutely that kind of feeling I've about SE: being able to create and to share our creation in order to make the world better is really inspiring.

    Anyway, we're not the only engineers to follow the same process. Every engineer is faced to problems, identifies solutions and prototypes them. It's clear that this process (and, even more, its result) is really something that makes our job exiting. But I feel there's something more. Something subtle.

    In French, we usually don't use the word Computer Science. We use Informatics instead. For me, it's really a better word. As software engineer, we're not only deeling with computers, we're dealing with information. And it's also something I find exiting. Our only limit is our imagination. Our only model are… ourself & the others: The way we think. The way we understand. The way we solve real life problems.

    The most difficult problem in our communication is that (for many people), informatics is like a complex and obscure science, that only geeks can afford. Sadly, I must say the lessons we get at the university seems to be done exactly to reinforce that feeling… But it's not true! Computer science can be simple, and exiting. Yes, you've some boring things to learn, it's clear. So have you in any study. But I feel that the first thing we should learn to teenagers about Software Engineering is not theory. It's what you did learn to those students: showing the concept in an interesting and understandable context for anyone, and not only "geeks" that already have good skills.

    I liked your post because it seems you've fulfilled the objective of making programming "fun". It's something I'm really conviced of, and seing poeple around the world sharing that idea at large scale is really making me happy. If there's one thing I would like to be able when I'll graduate, it's to go to schools, and do the same thing you did : showing how great our job is.

    Maybe not as a full time. You can't do well what you do every day. But ocasionnaly…

  6. FremyCompany says:

    Well, using IE9 is at our own risks as it seems 🙂

    Sorry for the duplicate.

  7. Rabeb says:

    Great post and great comments as well. I'm senior computer engineering student , i'm preparing for my final exams next week ; thank you guys for inspiring me , now i'll study with more energy 🙂

  8. James says:

    I think one of the most neglected elements of being a software developer is the creativity involved.

    The sky really is the limit (well far beyond it actually), since practically anything imagined can created. The knowledge that I am going to be working on something new and interesting for the rest of my career makes me all warm and fuzzy inside.

    My alternavite name for developing software: 'Art, but with a few rules that need sticking to' 🙂