Welcome back to the Meet Our Team Q&A series. My name is Daniela Williams, Project Manager at ISE, and I’ll be asking ISE team members questions to help give insight into what makes us tick.
Today I'm interviewing Griffen Clark, Software Engineer, and one of our interns turned full-time engineers.
Q. How long have you worked at ISE and what did you do prior?
Griffen: I started working at ISE as an intern in the summer of 2015 as a junior in college. I interned again the following summer, and worked part-time remotely while I was in school. I started working full time in January of 2017. So in total, I've been working at ISE for about two and a half years, but only worked full time for a little over a year.
Q. What drew you into mobile development?
Griffen: When I first started college for my undergraduate education, I declared a study in Mechanical Engineering. About one semester in, I realized this was a terrible mistake for me. So in a somewhat-blind leap of faith, I switched my major to Software Engineering without having any coding experience. Additionally, I declared a minor in music, as I also am a classically trained musician and racked up enough credits playing in the symphony orchestra to easily graduate with the minor. I quickly learned programming was the right choice for me, as my brain is pretty evenly split between logical and creative thinking, and programming is a perfect marriage of these two ways of thinking in my eyes.
As for what drew me to mobile development specifically, mobile applications have been a completely integral part of my life since I was a teenager. I was amazed at what problems these applications can solve with such simplicity, how much more efficient they made everyone's lives, and how accessible these applications are. So once I started learning how to code, it was only a matter of time before I thought to myself, "Hey, I can actually make these applications and help make people's lives easier like they have for me".
Q. You've been working on the eFleetSuite product which was originally a Windows CE application and then ported to Android. How has working on that product been different than conventional Android Development?
Griffen: Typically, the conventional way to make android applications is to use Java as a programming language and Android Studio as an IDE (integrated development environment). When I came on to eFleetSuite, the application was written in C# and targeted both Windows CE and Android. We used Xamarin tools in order to generate native Android code using our C# code base and ultimately deploy our solution to the android platform. It seemed unconventional at the time, but I quickly learned and have grown to like to this arrangement.
Now that I've become proficient in using C#, there are some things that I prefer C# for over Java. For example, there are some really nifty operators in C# that make code look a lot cleaner and more streamline than Java. However, Android Studio is one of my favorite IDEs for mobile development, and I definitely wish we could be using it on a regular basis. Also, Android Studio has recently started supporting Kotlin as a secondary language to use for android projects. I only recently started learning Kotlin, but I already love it more than Java, similar to the reasons I prefer C# over Java.
Q: You helped out with the ISE Coding Garage the past few summers. How has your background with mobile development translated to helping the high school students develop their mobile apps?
Griffen: I first started helping out with ISE Coding Garage the first summer I interned at ISE, which was also when I started to learn mobile development, so it was an interesting time for me. I answered any generic coding questions the students had, but in terms of mobile development, I was right alongside them in learning android-specific development. It turns out teaching things to others that you are also learning yourself really helps you retain knowledge in that area. So helping out with ISE coding garage not only allowed me to help students in developing their own apps, but it also helped me with building my android skill-set. Win-win!
Q: What do you do for fun?
Griffen: I love to play music and attend concerts. I play in a few bands that are from the area. Whenever I can get the chance, I love to tour around the country and play shows in cities I've never been to. It's really great to experience different music communities in every town, meet new people, and get inspired by some of the amazing acts I get to see.