Secrets of the Trade

Mobile Makers Invites Software Engineer Speaker


Jaden Kolenbrander

Junior and Mobile App Development student Dominic Caruso works on a project in class. Caruso was one of many Mobile Makers and Mobile App Development students who saw Cody Shilts’ presentation and praised the usefulness of the more technical aspects of Shilts’ presentation as well as the class in general. “It really helped us create what we needed to do by showing us how to put functions on a simulated app,” Caruso said. “In general, this is a very interesting class, and I love the idea of developing my own app, and it has sparked the idea of turning this into a career.”

Jaden Kolenbrander, Reporter

After a year of online school, the Mobile Makers class is going full speed ahead. On Sept. 7, Mobile Makers, a class that teaches coding skills to students through mobile app development, invited software engineer Cody Shilts to speak about his journey in computer science.

Shilts, who works at financial services and technology company Apex Clearing Corporation, began his presentation with a story of how he became interested in computer science – although, at first it was more about his previous lack of experience in the subject. Although Shilts considered himself good at subjects related to math, the most his school had for computer science was a typing class.

“I think high schoolers today are very lucky to have the opportunity to take a computer science course,” Shilts said. “I didn’t have the resources many high school students have today, and I wish I could’ve taken a computer science course in high school instead of realizing that it was the career I wanted when I took my first course in college. I hope that [the Mobile Makers] can take every advantage in high school right now so you can have as much under your belt as possible.”

The second section of Shilts’ presentation focused on the resources he and other software engineers use in their projects. One prominent area of interest was Scrum, a method of team organization commonly used in software development that is intended to bring fast and efficient results and cultivate a highly adaptable team –  methods that the Mobile Makers class will also use throughout the year. According to computer science teacher Cheri Whalen, Shilts’ presentation is important information for the junior software developers of Mobile Makers and will help them learn how to become successful software developers in the future.

“We’ve had Shilts and other guest speakers in the course to give students more experience as an app developer and let them learn what coding apps in the real world looks like,” Whalen said. “Many of Cody’s topics will reoccur in any other major tech company. GitHub and Scrum are real-life tools that students will encounter in app development.”

Students in the class, too, felt positive about Shilts. Senior Emma Duong shares Whalen’s opinion, saying that Shilts’ presentation contained information she found helpful.

“His talk was very informative as to what work is like in computer science,” Duong said. “I’ve been in the Mobile Makers class for two years, and I think the material this class has offered so far has been useful for my future career of majoring in computer science and developing games.”

A portion of Shilts’ presentation was also dedicated to some of the more technical aspects of programming – something that junior Dominic Caruso praises it for and ties to his impressions of the classroom’s focus on mobile app development.

“It really helped us create what we needed to do by showing us how to put functions on a simulated app,” Caruso said. “In general, this is a very interesting class and I love the idea of developing my own app, and it has sparked the idea of turning this into a career.”

The presentation is one of the first of many that Mobile Makers students will be able to see in person this year, after 2020 – 2021 where most students stayed at home and learned through Zoom. It is one indicator that the Mobile Makers class is getting back on track as they begin their first year in person, and Whalen is ready to go full speed ahead after seeing the class’ remarkable success despite its struggles in its first year at the school.

“The hardest thing was pacing the curriculum without having students in front of me to see how they were doing,” Whalen said. “I still had a group of students who were absolutely remarkable, and I found with my second year students that they learned so much more than I thought they were learning during social distancing. This year is going to be much easier in terms of seeing their ability to learn the content.”

As it is only the second year of Mobile Makers’ presence at the school, there is still much more to come as students begin coding applications for Apple and gain industry experience. Shilts is glad he could share his experiences with the Mobile Makers class. 

“Technology is booming right now, and there’s a lot of careers in it,” Shilts said. “Having this leg up when you get into a development course, whether it be going to college or getting a position outside of school, will be huge in terms of the experience you get, and you should be taking advantage of it.”