Thursday – 11:00-11:45
Convention Ctr - Exhibit Hall 4A

14 – Graduating to Objects

Daniel Antion
American Nuclear Insurers

A presentation of the approach taken, techniques used and results achieved training high school graduates to be object-oriented programmers.

The problem for us was finding good fulltime developers willing to work in a small shop with a limited career path. We opted to go with people who want to work in this field, but don't want to follow the traditional path. The demo in this case, is a presentation of methods and experience. Object-oriented programming (Smalltalk) poses unique obstacles to training novice programmers. Training at the high school level is sharply procedural and must be overcome. Many of the easy projects have already been completed and added to the class library, so carving out initial meaningful projects is a challenge.

Our success, measured by quantity and quality of products produced vs. costs and the career success of the students, indicates this approach is viable. The approach is best described as an artisan-apprentice relationship. Traditional formal training assumes an understanding of the business environment that doesn't exist, and self-study ultimately leads to a case of following the wrong rabbit. In addition, we are actively working with a local high school, though their School-to-Career program, to improve career guidance and the math and computer science curriculum.

The presentation will also address in-house planning and preparation with other departments, the interview and contract with the applicant, the work relationship, evaluation methods and our experience working with schools and outside agencies. Demos and technical descriptions of sample systems will be included where beneficial.