Instructor Spotlight: Rob Hewitt
Rob is a camping, four-wheeling, software engineer with almost four decades of coding experience. He currently works at Choice Hotels International as a Principal System Engineer where his primary responsibility is to teach others as much as he can about technology – and he’s good at it.
We’re excited to bring such an enthusiastic technologist and educator to the Promineo Tech team, and we know that Rob will inspire many students to achieve great accomplishments. Welcome, Rob!
The following Q&A gives a look into Rob Hewitt - his experience, philosophies, and passions.
How did you get into software development?
I sort of fell into it in the early-1980s while I was in graduate school. I discovered programming on a mainframe and created my first text-based RPG in BASIC. After that, I couldn’t keep away from it.
In the early days of personal computers, I would often stay up all night trying to figure things out. I started out programming in BASIC, then migrated to Pascal. When Windows came out, I learned to develop in C.
I originally resisted the Object-Oriented “fad” that swept the industry because the explanations of it were so lame. One day on the bus I had an epiphany and finally figured it out. So, the migration to C++ was natural. For the last 20 years or so, I’ve been coding in Java.
Why do you love software development?
There is always so much to do and learn. I am as much excited about my profession today as I was when I first got into it. It’s not just about coding; it’s interacting with lots of varied people. Software development is very diversified now. There are people from every nationality and culture, and the richness they bring to the industry is – well, I want to say awe-inspiring, but it’s also humbling.
How did you get into teaching?
When I was in High School, I had the opportunity to speak in front of our church of about 500 people. I was scared but also exhilarated! I knew that I wanted to continue speaking in front of people. I started teaching while in graduate school as a teaching assistant. Now, I teach and mentor people because, at this point in my career, I want to pass on all that I have learned to help people not make the same mistakes I made along the way, and to get newcomers excited!
Why do you love teaching?
I have had the opportunity to teach several week-long technical classes. These classes are always predictable. On day one, everyone is smiling and happy to be there. On day two they are determined to work hard and figure it out. On day three the students are completely overwhelmed and lost. Their vitality is gone, and they don’t make eye contact. On day four the lights start to come on and you can see the spark of understanding in their eyes as they begin to have these “aha” moments. That’s what I live for!
What do you feel is the hardest thing about learning to program?
The hardest thing may be the realization that not everyone is cut out to be a software developer – and that that person is me. To be in the profession for the long haul, it takes high intelligence, a fascination with problem-solving, a highly-deductive mind, and discipline to see a project through to the end. These characteristics don’t always play nicely together – even within your own brain!
Learning a programming language is like learning another spoken language. The first one is hard. After that, it becomes easier. After learning three or four programming languages, you come to the inescapable conclusion that they are all the same. You know that they will support what you are trying to accomplish. You just need to figure out the syntax.
What do you believe is the most important thing a student can do when learning to program?
Don’t try to do too much at one time. If you do, you will come across a problem that you won’t know how to fix because there is too much untested code. You need to learn to code and test, code and test. Or, if you prefer: test and code, test and code. The point is to make each cycle really small so that you know that you are laying down robust and clean code. Then, when you come across a problem, chances are it is caused by the stuff you just wrote.
It also helps to read as much code from other programmers as you possibly can. This will help you learn new ways of thinking and will help you develop a style that will distinguish you. So, read books, read articles, look at live code. Don’t learn your coding skills from StackOverflow!
What advice would you give students about to go through a bootcamp?
Learning the discipline of coding is hard; creativity and discipline don’t always go hand in hand. Keep at it and don’t give up. You may be tempted to quit because this is a hard profession. Don’t! Learn every topic in turn as best you can. Don’t worry about mastering it – just learn it. You will have plenty of time for mastery in the years ahead.
What’s your favorite software development project you’ve ever worked on?
The one I’m working on at the time! I don’t think in terms of favorites because I generally like working on all of them. A more telling question would be “What’s the least favorite software development project you’ve ever worked on?” Ah, the stories I could tell!
What are your hobbies outside of software development?
Software development! LOL!! I also like camping and four-wheeling. Oh – and beer. I love going to new places and sampling local craft beers. If getting there requires a Jeep and off-road driving, so much the better.
Anything else you’d like to add?
At Promineo Tech, you can learn front-end and back-end development skills. Pick one. The days of the full stack developer are pretty much gone forever. There’s too much to learn now so you will need to pick a specialty. Just follow your interests. Also, don’t get the idea that you will come out of these courses understanding enterprise programming. That really takes years. On the other hand, companies won’t expect you to know all about that stuff right out of school – or at least they shouldn’t. You’ll get there! Think of it as a life-long learning experience!
Why did you decide to teach at Promineo Tech?
This is a good opportunity to share some of my skills and wisdom with people just starting out. There can’t be anything more satisfying than that!
Students are welcome to connect with Rob on LinkedIn!
Interested in changing careers and becoming a software developer? Learn more about Promineo Tech's programs and how we help students make this transition through affordable, low-risk technology education: https://promineotech.com/coding-for-adults