Coding Academy Instructor
If you can decipher “PB&J,” then without a doubt you can start coding, as in writing a computer program, says Devin Cook, a computer science professor at Sacramento State. He led the new Coding Academy in 2017 and it proved so popular, a second class was added to meet the demand.
“Students might believe that computer science is difficult or complicated or frustrating,” Cook says, “but if they can write down how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, they can program a computer. It’s the same exact thing.”
Cook has been coding since the sixth grade when he received a Commodore 64 computer as a gift. “A beautiful little machine,” he says. “It was just me playing on the computer. I sat down and learned how to program it.” And from that moment on, he knew he wanted to be a computer scientist.
Cook earned both his bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in computer science at Sacramento State and has taught at the University since 2005. He also designed the software that students will use in the Coding Academy, basically a flowchart programming language called Flowgorithm.
“If they can text message, they can do this,” he says. “It’s extremely simple.” Making computer science accessible and fun is one of his goals, and closing the gender gap is another.
In his classes, for instance, two-thirds of his students are male and only one-third female. Cook doesn’t want either gender missing out on this ever-expanding field, “anything from designing buildings to writing the next version of Microsoft Windows to working for Google.” And it starts with coding and understanding algorithms.
“An algorithm is basically a series of steps to perform in order to accomplish a task,” he says, just like making a PB&J. “That’s an algorithm.”