I Can Build That! | Graduate Spotlight

Sep 2, 2020
Jessica Grande


Ivan Phelps of Part-Time Web Development Cohort Evening 10

Growing up, Ivan Phelps enjoyed building computers to play video games on. This led him to a career dealing in computer hardware. From repair technician roles to most recently a server rack installation and testing technician, he was proud to build a career for himself from what originated as a hobby. “However, it didn't take long before I started hitting professional growth roadblocks,” he explains. “I knew I wanted to expand my knowledge of technology in some way, and I am delighted that I ended up finding my way to Nashville Software School (NSS).”

I heard about NSS from family members a couple years before I attended. My only regret is not attending sooner! 


Learning a new skill can be challenging. During his time in Part-time Web Development Cohort Evening 10, Ivan would sometimes feel defeated by the challenges he faced. “I see now that the struggle is absolutely integral to the learning process,” he shares. “Every time I felt lost or hopeless corresponded with a later understanding and uplifting feeling of accomplishment.” 

I realized that with enough determination, I could take almost any idea in my head and turn it into a piece of software. It is an incredibly liberating feeling knowing that you have the tools to create.

When asked what advice he would pass along to incoming and current NSS students, he shared, “Don't get hung up in comparing yourself to your peers; Everyone learns at a different pace and is receptive to different material. You may be struggling now, but the next topic may come easily to you, and if not.... Keep on going! If you're struggling, that's good! It's the only way to truly learn this material! Also, ask plenty of questions. From my experience, the instruction team wants nothing more than to see that ‘light-bulb flipping on’ look on your face.”


For his front-end capstone, Ivan created Collectathon, a video game collection tracker he named for the video game genre that tasks players with locating collectible items. He used two external APIs to create Collectathon. The first API being an RAWG video game database that allows users to search for specific games, browse a list of popular games, and select games to save on their collection page in the application. The second API Ivan used was the Steam API that allows users to input their Steam ID so that the games owned by the user are displayed along with how much they have played each game. He even built a fun, extra “Easter egg” function in Collectathon that is a nod to the popular game called “Untitled Goose Game.”  “I encountered a JS package called “Honkify.js,” he explains. “Honkify, when enabled, turns all links on the page into broken links that honk when you press them,essentially...the goose got ‘em!”  Ivan built this app using Firebase and React.

Super Mix-N-Match is Ivan’s back-end capstone based on a matching card mini-game in Super Mario Bros. 3. Ivan shares, “Ever since I started software development, I've looked closer at mechanics in video games thinking about what code is making them run. This was one of my favorite mini-games as a kid and one day I realized I could code it!” This mobile-focused card game takes the fun elements inspired by the original Mario mini-game and brings the difficulty up a level with a randomized layout, and more cards to match as quickly as possible.

Ivan built the back-end of Super Mix-N-Match with a C# web API using Dapper to map to a SQL database and OnsenUI. “I decided to challenge myself to build an entirely mobile focused UI and discovered OnsenUI and decided to use it,” he shares. “After some frustrations, I was able to create a custom theme and successfully started implementing OnsenUI components.” 

“This project taught me a lot about timing, whether it be in asynchronous data requests or in React component updates. I'm super happy with how this project turned out, and I'm looking forward to continuing work on it,” he states. 


Since graduating, Ivan plans to update his back-end capstone in order to align with mobile app store policies and deploy it. “I'm also going to totally re-haul my personal site using React, so I have no shortage of code projects to keep me busy,” he shares. 

Ivan is looking forward to finding his first job as a junior developer where he can continue to grow and progress in his skill sets as a programmer. 

Learn more about Ivan by visiting his website or listen to his podcast!

Check out all the recent grads on Web Development Cohort Evening 10’s class website and hear the graduates share their experience at NSS and capstone projects in their podcasts below.

Topics: Student Stories, Hiring?, Web Development