I work at Google now

Just wanted to say - yes it works out in the end if you put in the effort, are driven and think strategically.

The people in this community are the next generation of engineers, computer scientists, etc. The difference between where you are now and an excellent career is about 6-10 years of hard work. But please please please realize that you have to direct yourself in the direction YOU want to go. You only get to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow if you aggressively chase the dream.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach me at scody@google.com, I am happy to go into my journey and how I got where I am.

Regardless of our spats in the past, I am thankful to the founders of VEX for the impact this program has had in my life. Thank you Paul, Jason, JVN, etc.

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Awesome news man!

Good to see a NAR teammate making moves!

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Two young soon-to-be engineers have reached out so far. I gave them my story and some feedback on their life goals. In general I’d say those conversations were helpful and inspiring (that’s the feedback I got). Please don’t be shy. While I refuse to really partake in this forum, I am open to all forms of discussion about adult (that is career, college, aspirations, etc.) conversations.

I heavily believe in treating young adults as autonomous, intelligent, capable human beings as opposed to children that must be coddled and protected. Those who are young, ambitious, but somewhat uncertain about their near future (hopefully) in an engineering domain and want some 1:1 guidance are really welcome to reach out and I encourage those who have spoken with me to post about that experience here.

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I still remember your holonomic tutorial of many moons ago that was so useful for its time. With the move away from v 0.5, the syntax has changed, but the ideas live on.

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Just a quick unrelated question, do you happen to be @anon50541363? If so, why the new account?

Yes, that’s me. Email me for latter question.

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I still use them, but now with my IQ teams. The math still works no matter what language you use.

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Can’t believe four lines of code I wrote in highschool made me semi-famous.

I guess that actually happened :joy:.

Funny thing is, that simplification is mostly because I didn’t actually know how to do it any other way.

Maybe we should take questions here directly since I keep getting emails with a similar set of questions.

Who wants to kick it off?

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Hi Cody, I read through one of your other threads (Cody’s PROS tutorial series), and since I don’t use PROS, I was wondering what would be the benefits of using PROS. Did using PROS benefit your programming career in any way, and if so how? I’m very interested in programming and want to be a programmer, so is there any advice you could give me in general as well?
Thanks. :grin:

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I only used PROS for a little while. At the time is was amazing because the Rice Purdue guys had managed to reverse engineer a bunch of firmware stuff on the Cortex. No idea how they did it, James would know more as he did essentially the same before getting hired by VEX.

Robotics didn’t teach me much about coding and honestly is not a great way to learn to code. It got me interested more than I already was in certain areas and I took over from there. For me coding was already something I was very much involved in from the age of 10 so I guess robotics wasn’t really my entry into coding like it is for others.

What PROS did over RobotC was it un-dumbed-down the process. Instead of calling functions in a kiddy C like thing, it was real C++ with gcc and the works. Atom was great and honestly their APIs were very well done. My hat goes off to them.

I don’t even know what you guys use to code anymore, or even what replaced the Cortex. I think it’s V5? I assume RobotC is still kicking around.

I learned to code through books. I bought a Java book at 10 and read 150 pages of it in a day. It absolutely changed everything for me, I was literally captivated. From there I messed around with HTML/CSS for a few years, learned a little C along the way. In HS I did do C programming both in school and in robotics. That lead to me deep diving some C++ books in community college, taking some Unix courses and stuff like that. Eventually I got into a real school and started CS after doing contract work, working for myself as a startup that failed and after reading a bunch of game design books. At the time that’s what I wanted to do.

This was the C++ book:

This is a good game engine book that actually teaches a lot of C:

This is the book you should actually buy, right now, honestly if you want to code at all ever in your life:

And this is a good complement to that:

If you like graphics, and OpenGL is your thing, this is your bible:

I have a list of business books too if anyone is interested. None of those links are affiliate links, I’m just throwing out good resources.

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What service was the startup trying to provide?

It was a service for power eBay users. We actually had a working prototype desktop Java application that my friend who did eBay as a living made about $40,000 off of. We were trying to take it to web.

EBH

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congratulations!
I hope you can work well at Google, and I hope you can make greater achievements!
Thank you for your blessing. We will work and study as hard as you.

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Honestly it’s not really about work or study. I was regularly known to skip class during my undergrad. I already knew most of the stuff they had to teach me and was mostly there to just get the paper.

It’s curiosity that is what is really important. You can get a better education from YouTube and books than any university can give you. If you go out there and have a natural drive to figure things out, you will - because the information itself is readily available now. More now than ever, so by all means your generation has a leg up on all others.

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very well said! My parents should take your advice

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Most parents treat their kids as sub-adults even once those kids reach actual adulthood. I don’t really know why, but I see it all the time. Honestly I think it could be as simple as people get used to norms and it’s hard to break pattern. It’s up to the kids to pull away and take a hard line at the appropriate age. I moved out when I was 19, don’t regret it. Didn’t speak with my parents for a few weeks until they called. It’s taken a few years now but at this point they see me as an equal.

I will go ahead and respond to your PM here as well. You voiced a counter opinion to my claim that VEX is not a great place to learn to code. I really must insist that it isn’t.

Robots require really basic programming. Like really basic. Spinning motors and blinking LEDs are fun, we all know that but when you use a platform where 90% of the hard work has been done for you and all you have to do is add a couple dozen lines of code based on examples, are you really learning?

I didn’t learn data structures from VEX, nor algorithms, nor the real language semantics of C++. Didn’t learn about testing, memory, I/O, computer arch, logic design, none of it.

I came in with enough background that the stuff one can learn in VEX I mostly had already and when I left I had a smidge more experience. Now again, someone completely green might have their “150 page” moment within VEX and see value in that, but I assure you that moment can be had from YT and a netbook, no robot required.

Robotics predominately teaches Mechanical Engineering concepts actually. ME is OK, but not as good as CS or EE.

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I do agree that robotics teaches primarily ME concepts. However, regarding strictly coding, you could still engage in more advanced programming techniques. PID and odometry are slightly more advanced strategies that can be employed. While it doesn’t use the ins and outs of C++, they still employ slightly more complex structures and algorithms.

This is definitely true, but being familiar with C++ from robotics can make it easier to learn these concepts. I have personally found it easier to start to learn some of these more advanced techniques, after having a C++ background.

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I agree with your post in general but I think the above sentence is underselling the value of robotics as a gateway to more advanced programming concepts. No, you’re not going to earn a CS degree programming VEX robots but that’s not really the point, the point is to spark the interest and passion that gets people into the more advanced stuff.

And yeah, you can spark that interest in lots of different ways, but I think robotics is an exceptionally good way to do it - watching a robot move just the way you programmed it to is IMO a lot cooler than blinking an LED or seeing “Hello World” in a terminal, even if the “code” you wrote to make it move is just a few calls to an API someone else provided for you.

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You can do more advanced coding in Scratch with a curious 4th grader in about a half hour than you would typically do with VEX.

I’m not arguing that coding in robotics isn’t important, and that it can’t peak a kid’s interest.

Yes, you can do PID… That’s not really a programming problem, and most people that solve that problem do so by copying and pasting. The work is in the constants, and that is work, but it’s not programming, it’s tweaking a constant. I agree that robotics is 100% an awesome way to get interested in programming but the vast majority of teams can be very successful in competition with very little structure. I’m not saying that it’s hard to make your bot do the thing that you want it to do, but it’s not a matter of understanding programming.

A personal example: I wanted some information off of robotevents.com. I had never used Python before, but I read that was the best way to do some scraping. It took me a couple of days, but I was able to figure it out and it was kind of fun. So, I got Python to do a task, but copying and pasting stuff from Stack Overflow and adjusting the arguments isn’t really programming. I would say I experienced something new, but I didn’t really learn anything about coding in the process.

Perhaps it may inspire me to take a coding class.

I deeply believe in these statements. But it’s also a very efficient way to not get anything done. We have insanely curious elementary kids that just lose it all by the time they are in 7th grade. I teach 6th, 7th and 8th grade students together, and the differences between those ages are stark.

Is is the schools that beat the creativity out of kids?
Is it shifting hormones that drive their attention?
I don’t know what drives it away.

I can’t teach a kid to be creative. My lab, with the fields, pieces and computers everywhere, should peak any kid’s interest. I would have died to be in there when I was their age. But for the vast majority of kids it just doesn’t do anything for them. That’s part of why I use VEX, because the competitive angle will fill some of the curiosity gap… But it’s often not enough.

Anywho, great thread. You are 100% on point.

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Yes. [In my opinion] The American public education system is a joke. We need to bring back apprentice programs run by companies. Parents need to become more involved in teaching. The bad teachers need fired and retired professionals need to replace them. The Bush era. leave no kid behind logic needs reversed and programs like VEX and FIRST should be front and center as the gold standard of how to both motivate and educate young adults.

Of course… And maybe if the kids (boys and girls and otherwise) themselves stopped watching celebrities like the Kardashians and started watching YouTubers like Simone, maybe we could get those hormones and selection criteria I can’t get into here to align appropriately to our new world.

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