Do You Accept Cache? | Graduate Spotlight

Apr 27, 2017
Mandy Arola

While many of our grads come from similar fields, they all bring their own unique experience that enhances their development skills. This week we meet Drew Martin and Nick Chemsak, two guys who have experience in the financial service industry. Drew was a banker, but also has experience as an auto mechanic and graphic designer. Nick worked in IT for a credit union and was responsible for automating several processes. Here are their stories.

Drew Martin

Drew MartinDrew Martin’s prior experience didn’t fit together until he became a software developer. He spent three years as an automotive mechanic, than was a banker, and did freelance graphic design on the side. How many people do you know with of combination of skills like that? When the bank Drew worked at closed, a friend encouraged him to try development and gave him some resources to get started. Drew liked what he was learning, so his friend suggested he take it a step further and attend NSS. Software development combines his ability to fix problems (automotive mechanic and banker) with his creativity (graphic designer).

For Drew, the NSS experience is all about the people. He shared, “I will forever remember these six months because of the people that I shared them with.” He faced roadblocks every day, but guidance from the instructors helped him through. He encourages new students to “relax, trust the process. Don’t be afraid to break everything.”

Drew’s front-end capstone, called Rise, is an app that combines traffic, weather, and Reddit into one interface. You no longer have to visit three different apps every morning. The app was built with Ionic and Angular. He shared, “This was a crazy fun app to build because I had never seen Ionic before, which means I didn’t stop learning while building Rise.”

For his back-end capstone, Drew built an app called Lucid to write down dreams when you wake up. The more you write down, the more you will remember. The app was built with Ionic 2, Angular 2, and Django REST framework. Drew wanted to challenge himself again and learning Angular 2 brought that challenge.

Drew is currently working on open source projects.

Listen to Drew’s interview with Clark Buckner about his journey and check out Drew’s profile.

Nick Chemsak

Nick ChemsakNick Chemsak spent eight years working in IT for a credit union. While there he wrote and automated SQL queries on an Intersystems Cache database, mapped and implemented iMM electronic forms using HP Autonomy Liquid Office, JavaScript, and TotaleAtlas, and designed an internal dashboard for automation processes using HTML/CSS, SQL, AutoIT, VBScript, and Smarterm Cache Macros. All of this experience helped Nick realize that he enjoyed the automation part of his job the most and wanted to dig deeper into programming.

Nick first heard about NSS from a friend and thought it would be a great opportunity to accelerate his learning, be taught proper conventions and procedures, and be surrounded by supportive instructors and students. Nick’s favorite part of the six month program was every moment when it suddenly clicked.

Many concepts were new to me, difficult to grasp, and I would struggle for days on them. There is no better feeling than experiencing those eureka moments. When those moments happen, I know that I have a deeper understanding of the concept that I'll be able to use in the future.

Nick shared that there were many roadblocks and it was hard to stay confident in his abilities. The rapid pace of the program pushes students outside of their comfort zone. He said, “From one day to the next, there was a mental swing from thinking I had it all figured out, to feeling lost. You just have to maintain, push through, and trust the process.”

For his front-end capstone, Nick built an app that allows users to plug an instrument into their computer (via USB) and add effects processors, record/loop audio, use a MIDI sampler/oscillator, and sequence recorded audio via sequencer/drum machine. The app is called eWave Music Studio and is an AngularJS app that implements Web Audio API and Web MIDI API. His original goal was to have an audio effects processor that he could use at his home recording studio, but he was also able to achieve many of his stretch goals, including using a MIDI controller to trigger start/stop recording and deploy to Firebase. Now Nick has access to an audio effects processor and drum machine wherever he has a computer and internet!

Nick’s back-end capstone, Doorbell Dash, is a wi-fi enabled doorbell that uses an Amazon Dash button. When the button is pressed, a photo is taken with a Raspberry Pi camera and it sends a text message with the photo via Twillio and Imgur. The application was written with Python. After demo day, Nick installed the doorbell at his house and it is running smoothly! He plans on implementing some form of motion detection and facial recognition to replace the button in the future.

Nick’s advice to students? Enjoy yourself. Six months will go by fast. Also, put in the time. The best way to learn and understand everything is to keep coding. Post NSS, Nick has been updating both of his capstone projects, working with a classmate on a voice activated Phaser video game, and revisiting core JavaScript concepts.

Listen to Nick’s interview with Clark Buckner about his time at NSS and check out Nick’s profile.

You never know when someone will get bit by the developer bug. So, the next time you walk into a bank or an auto repair shop, look around. There may be a future developer among you!

Be sure to listen to all of the graduates talk to our friend, Clark Buckner, about their journey into development and about their experience at NSS.

Check out all of the recent grads on the Cohort 16 class website.

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Topics: Student Stories