by Hannah Evans, STEM Ambassador at SiXworks
Firstly, what actually is ‘coding’?
Putting it simply, coding is a way telling computers what you want them to do by providing instructions using a programming ‘language’ on how to perform certain tasks. It allows us to create websites, video games, mobile apps and smart devices.
Why is code so important?
Everything in the digital world is based on code. Simple day to day things such as: taking a selfie on your mobile phone, playing a video game, watching a film on Netflix, asking Alexa a question - all require software applications written in code. Industries outside of the technology sector such as finance, retail, engineering and medicine all rely on processes run by code. Essentially, coders are like the architects and builders of the digital world.
What is it actually like working as a ‘coder’?
As a Software Engineer in the Defence sector I’ve been part of some amazing projects, developing applications for the military, counter terrorism and the police - I have even presented a live airborne demonstration in a RAF Voyager aircraft flying at 25,000ft! Given the potentially high risk situations in which our applications may be used, it is so important that the code we write always works. Although this does add a sense pressure, I love the sense of reward knowing that the code I write to develop applications is going to make a real difference.
RAF Voyager aircraft refuelling Typhoon fighter jets
How do you learn to code?
I have now been a Software Engineer for over 4 years and have learnt around 95% of my coding skills ‘on the job’. A lot of people think that to become good at coding you need to come from a computing background – but this is definitely not the case! Taking any STEM subject is a good place to start as you will learn to develop critical thinking and problem solving skills which can then be applied to software engineering. I was lucky enough to get into BAE Systems Applied Intelligence’s National Security Academy (a 3 month intensive training course to become a Software Engineer) and since then I’ve never looked back!