Posted by William Johnson | 2 Comments
Becoming a Well-Rounded Software Engineer (Introductory Participial Phrase!)
I’m not much for writing because I’ve always had a hard time getting my thoughts out of my brain and onto a different medium. I even have a hard time when I talk, and sometimes people can take what I say the wrong way. Well, since we at AppMakr are being strongly encouraged to write blog posts, I guess it’s time for me to turn over a new leaf.
Because I’ve always lacked literary skill and struggled with correct usage of grammatical constructs, I decided to do something about that. I’m taking a basic grammar course at a community college (if my grammar is bad, please forgive me. I’m still learning). I know, I know! You are probably asking, “Why does a software engineer need to take a grammar course?” Well, I believe in being well-rounded. My maternal grandfather was a soil chemist and a well-educated man. He spoke perfect English, and he spoke such perfect English that he would sometimes correct Peter Jennings! Also, my father is a cardiologist. He’s very intelligent and well-rounded, and he encourages his children to be well-rounded too.
Now there are two main reasons why I chose to do something about my lack of knowledge of formal grammar. First, I’m black. I don’t want people thinking that all I know is ebonics (my grandfather was black/African-Amercan as well. People were always awestruck about how educated he was and how he spoke perfect English).
Secondly, I’ve always dreaded writing. But more so, I’ve purposely avoided some academic settings because writing is/was such a grueling process for me. I’ve thought about getting a Ph.D. or a master’s in computer science or electrical engineering, but I dreaded and still dread writing a thesis or dissertation. The actual research and coursework don’t bother me. So I decided to take a different route, which some may say “Hey, he punked out!” or “He tapped out!” (for those of you who watch submission sports). I’ve decided to get an MBA, further engrossing myself in rounding out my skill set. I’ll have to write a lot in my MBA program. So maybe I’ll get enough practice to be more confident in my writing. Who knows? Maybe I’ll pursue that elusive master’s or Ph.D.; I’ve always wanted to concentrate in embedded systems. Then maybe I can write one of those dry academic books that eventually become an authoritative text like Donald Knuth’s The Art of Computer Programming or Michael Sipser’s Introduction to the Theory of Computation. I could even become an Edsger Dijkstra.
As software engineers, we must solve many complex software and systems problems. We usually spend our day with our head down writing code; however, some of us may participate in developing written artifacts such as requirements documents or design documents. Therefore, for those of us who do, we should ensure that we educate ourselves as much as possible in the details of written English and technical writing. Both are important! We need to make sure that what we write is professional and can be understood by our audience.
By the way, I thank my two bosses Sean Shadmand and Isaac Mosquera for supporting me in my endeavors and allowing me to pursue my interests. They fully support my getting off early on Wednesdays so that I may attend my class lectures. For those of you who are not so fortunate…Well, we’re hiring.