Product insights

Hour of Code – a serious playground

Having recently hosted an Hour of Code event at our headquarters for kids of employees, I reflect back upon my own journey into coding, and its growing importance for the next generation.

Why coding is important

Since the 1980s when it was just a bunch of geeks (like me) sitting round fiddling with computers, the language of software, and software’s roll in the world has grown significantly. With the rise of IoT (internet of things), this is bound to increase even further. Even though this is the case, fewer schools teach computer science than 10 years ago.

This led to the creation of a great project that wants to put coding back on everyone’s agenda. To date, Hour of Code has helped get over 100 million students to try coding. Even President Obama got in on the action, writing his first line of code as part of the campaign in 2015.

Kids coding in SimCorp during Christmas

Youngster's learning to write their first line of code

Why is this relevant for SimCorp?

We are a software company. The majority of my colleagues work in Product Development and have a background in computer science and programming. So this is a topic that is close to our hearts and in that regards, I think we have a responsibility to our own professional field (in the long-term), and on a wider perspective, to society as well. Because we are the ones currently sitting so close to technology, we also need to be the ones leading the way for the next generation.

How I got involved

I still remember how I got into computer science. It started in the basement of my parents’ house. As an engineer, my father wanted a workshop where he could fix and build "things", so he created a dedicated room for that purpose. The room was used extensively for all kinds of home DIY projects. The projects ranged from a wood shredder to humidity alarms put underneath the dishwasher. Naturally, I also found my way into the basement, but was more interested in electronics and chemistry than mechanics.

It started with simple flip-flop circuits (later used for the humidity alarms), but when the integrated circuits (like the TTL 7400 series) became more affordable in the 1970s they were also put to use. I developed prototypes by soldering the parts together, like a simple 2x4 bit summarizer or creating a pulse dialer for the telephone with a numeric keypad (everyone else used a manual dialer).

TTL 7400 series
TTL 7400 series

Later, in high school a lot of time was spent on programming in COMAL on a RC 7000 using a TeleType Writer. Programs were initially stored on punched paper tape (imagine the difference when we got 8" floppy disks!).

This was where my passion for programming developed, and set me on my career path. I was lucky to grow up in this environment, especially way back when all this technology was in its infancy. Now, technology is all around us, impacting so many different aspects of our lives.

Just like we were encouraged to learn a second language such as French or Spanish at school, now it is also vital that we encourage young people to learn the languages behind the software they use everyday, and which may be vital for their job prospects in 10-15 years time.

Coding is also a chance to increase diversity

Since the beginning, coding and programming has been a very male-dominated area. By running programs like Hour of Code, we open it up to both boys and girls – in the hope that in the not-too-distant future, just as many women will be contributing to software development as men.

Learn more about Hour of Code, by watching this brief video.