by Ejiro Otakoro, STEM Ambassador and Student at the University of Strathclyde
Wouldn’t it be cool if we could just imagine things into existence? We can! What’s more is that we could do it every time we have an exciting idea. However, since we’re not quite capable of commanding the elements, in order to translate these ideas into the real world, we’ve always needed tools. Humans first used tools to make crafts from raw materials to make hunting and farming easier. During the industrial revolution, we created machines to make manufacturing processes less labour intensive. Finally, in 1846, the first computer programme was written as a tool to communicate with a machine (shown below).
Not so long ago, programming was just a hobby performed by a small minority of computer gurus. Today, there are almost half a million professional software developers in the UK alone. Technology has rapidly become one of the world’s largest industries with 4 of the world’s 5 highest valued companies being in the technology sector. In fact, in 2020, a new technology company was registered in the UK every 30 minutes! Hence, it is now clear that the future belongs to those who have both ideas and the ability to execute them.
But learning to code can’t be for everyone, right? What if you’re ‘non-technical’ or just the thought of programming makes your brain melt? Undeniably, at first computer programmes will seem dry and outrageously complex, but similar to looking at sheet music for the first time, it’s just a matter of learning the language. Furthermore, coding isn’t just for coders. Archaeologists have been using computer programmes to help evaluate their findings for years. In 2013, the Nobel chemistry prize was won by a team of computer chemists for using computer simulations to study chemical processes. More recently, governments around the world have been relying on computational epidemiologists to predict covid-19 outbreaks and to predict the efficacy of lockdowns.
So, whether your certain on a career in technology or not, learning to code in a few programming languages will do no harm. It’s never too early to start putting your coding skills into practice (many software developers built their first apps as teenagers). Nor is it ever too late to start learning (countless professionals learn to code in order to make a career change). So why not give it a go and start expanding your toolkit today!
If you’re looking for where to get started, here are some links to a few helpful websites: