I am Dr. Soraya Cardenas, President of Wild Noodle. Today is my first blog.
In 1985, Mr. Brian Conte, President of Fast Track Team, created a program, which he named Herbert, to help teach algorithmic problem-solving and design. Herbert is a game-based programming teaching tool and challenge which was used from 2004 to 2008 in Microsoft’s Imagine Cup Algorithm Competition. The Algorithm Competition had the highest satisfaction rating among all Imagine Cup competitions and Herbert has been used by over 20,000 students, and continues to be used daily. In 2009, Mr. Conte founded Wild Noodle to develop educational tools in computer programming.
In 2016, Mr. Conte approached me to help run Wild Noodle. What do I bring to Wild Noodle? Over 20 years of academic experience. I have won numerous teaching and research awards and grants. My area of expertise is in high-impact, experiential learning. I also am a Sociological Researcher. I am trained to conduct research on social trends, change and movements. I understand the importance of interpreting demographics and its impact on society. These are all skills that are an emerging need in the tech industry. Today, the United States is going through a technological revolution. We have reached a point when industry needs are not being met because of a shortage of skilled laborers.
Economies are divided into three types: primary, secondary and tertiary. A primary economy refers to an economy dependent on the extraction or production of raw resources such as mining, farming, fishing, and logging. The secondary economy refers to the production of a product such as using ore to manufacture cars. The tertiary economy is the delivery of services. Our economy in the United States is largely a tertiary economy. Most manufacturing jobs were shipped overseas in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Today, we see a blend of the secondary and tertiary economy. We are in need of skilled laborers to help with using the technological tools to provide services, but we also see a resurgence in the secondary economy as we need skilled laborers to help build those systems that society depends. National Science Foundation, and many tech companies such as Microsoft and non-profits like Code.org have noticed the gap and are investing in remediating the gap.
Mr. Conte recognized that tech industry gap, but also realized that there needs to be more than the development of software, but that there needed to be a merge between high skilled teachers and researchers into the tech field. For example, his computer programming learning tool Herbert has the capacity to teach children as young as 5 to students in graduate school. Its ability to move up in a level of complexity marks a very much needed tool in the primary and secondary schools, and is a much needed program to help link block coding tools like Scratch to more advanced tools like Java. So here I am. I am participating in this venture to help support this need and demand. My future blogs will be filled with information about teaching and research in computer programming. In addition, I will begin learning how to code to demonstrate that almost anyone can code given access to the right tools and resources. I look forward to taking this new path in my life, which I hope will help others partake and join the need to learn computer programming.
Soraya Cardenas, Ph.D.
“My fancy box, using Herbert (AKA “h” language)!”