Davanna White is a freshman in the engineering college at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. She has been interested in programming for many years and received her first exposure to computer science through her father, a computer software engineer. She started coding during her sophomore year of high school and loved it so much she decided to pursue a Computer Science major in college!
How did you first become involved with coding and technology?
I grew up in a very tech-savvy household– we always had the latest in terms of game consoles and especially computers. I first started coding my sophomore year of high school, after I was given the choice between a videography class and an introductory C++ programming course. I wasn’t really comfortable with programming until the middle to end of my junior year. By then I was taking the AP Computer Science course offered at my school, and I had much more experience.
Have you created any apps? Tell us about them!
During my junior year of high school myself and three other students created an audio-streaming app similar to 8tracks or Pandora. It allowed a user to upload their audio files (music, podcasts, etc.) to a cloud server, catalog their audio files based on a tagging system, and create playlists based on this tagging system. The four of us all enjoy music, and we decided that existing apps didn’t have all of the features we would have liked. The app itself was very layered, and required knowledge of databases and SQL, HTML and website design (which accompanied the app functionality), cross-platform programming and knowledge of “REST APIs.” I had some experience in website design, but most of the material we learned through a combination of the internet and the assistance of an experienced programmer (my father).
What did you think about tech and coding before you began?
Before I started coding, I thought that it looked very complicated and I didn’t quite understand it. It looked challenging. Now I think coding isn’t all that hard to understand (probably because I’ve been educated on it at this point). Being a successful programmer is about efficiency and problem-solving, mostly. You have to be patient and willing to take the time to solve the puzzle that is making a successful program. You can’t get frustrated. That’s a lot of what being successful in the entire technical field is about– perseverance, trial and error, and problem solving.
What programming languages are you familiar with?
At this point I would consider myself familiar with Java, C++, C#, Matlab, HTML/CSS, and SQL. It’s never bad to learn more programming languages. I think I could use some basic knowledge of python, xml, and objective-C. I think it’s useful to have a wide breadth of programming languages, and they’re all not terribly different.
What is it that you enjoy about programming?
Programming is like a puzzle. I really enjoy that. It requires thinking and problem solving and trial and error, and I’ve never been one to shy away from the challenge of a puzzle.
What advice do you have for other beginners, especially high school students?
Just don’t give up. Programming can be frustrating and it can seem complicated, but the more you do it, the easier it gets, like everything else.