Programming: A seed planted early.
When I was a kid, I almost always had a computer available. I played Mixed Up Mother Goose, Animal Quest, and tons of other games. Every once in a while, my mom took me to the Children’s Science Museum in West Hartford. For a little science hog like me, it was heaven. One day, I got to play with Legos connected to a computer. I knew how to use a computer from the one we had at home, but this was unique. I could type things in to make an actual LEGO toy do stuff! Lights flashed, motors whirred, and I was hooked. As it turned out, I was programming with LEGO/Logo.
I don’t remember how old I was when I first played with those LEGO lights and motors, but it was very early on. By 5th grade, I was entering the Firefighting Robot Contest at Trinity College, still using LEGO/Logo. My robot didn’t make it past the first hall, but I was ecstatic! When I put a candle in front of the light sensor, the fan spun! The robot could move! It could turn! It just…hadn’t turned where it was supposed to.
My fascination with computers kept getting stronger. My uncle taught me DOS commands, and I started using them to probe any computer I was on. I stumbled across QBASIC on one of these forays, and suddenly had a renewed fascination with programming. I started to teach myself to REALLY program (with a lot of help and encouragement from my family).
During middle-school, I got Lego Mindstorms to build more complex, free roaming robots. I helped teach QUEST teachers about Mindstorms so they could bring it to their students, and visited FIRST robotics competitions. In high-school, I took courses in Electronics, learning the fundamentals of circuitry, and first encountering assembly programming on a Zilog Z80. I took Cisco networking courses to understand how computers spoke to one another. I installed Linux and learned Perl.
In college, I have been honing those skills with courses in Java, Assembly, and C programming, networking, computer security, data structures, databases, and hundreds of other subjects. Now, finally nearing the completion of my bachelor’s degree at 26, I have been presented with a quiet reminder of my humble beginnings: programming in Logo to flash a lego stoplight.