I was born in America, and my parents are Egyptian with a Middle Eastern mentality. For them, life is defined by three professions: doctor, lawyer or engineer. If you weren’t one of those, you were just average. So I tried to follow in my brother Peter’s footsteps and went into pre-med. Eventually, I came home to my mom and said, “mom, I can’t do this. It’s not me.”
I have always loved that idea that technology is there for the good of mankind. It really helps us and makes our lives easier when we don’t even know it. I fell in love with that idea of the human telling the computer what to do. I switched to Computer Science and I just loved it. I was in my Java II class (at Kennesaw State University) and somebody next to me was talking about a coding program called The Iron Yard. He was telling me all these things that I just did not believe, like they train you for three months, and at the end they give you the skills and experience to get a job. I was intrigued! So, I looked into it, talked to my mom and decided to give it a try.
At that point, I had switched majors a few times and I wanted to take a break. I took a semester off to try The Iron Yard. I could tell in the first interview with The Iron Yard that they really are interested in each individual and in his/her capabilities. Tim Whitacre [Front-End Instructor] was just a real man and I respect him very much. Once I started class, everybody was just so kind and willing to help each other. It was that type of environment where we all wanted to work together and not compete at all.
After week two, the class really picked up and became more difficult. But even in those moments, I could rely on the people around me and my instructor helped me every step of the way. It was more about learning to solving a problem, not focusing on the problem. That practice of solving problems can be applied to so many concepts in life, not just in coding.
I always knew I wanted to deal with Java, because my first phone was a G1 and I fell in love with that offering. When I was in school, I fiddled around with small Android applications here and there in my Java II class. What The Iron Yard gave me was the gift and the capability to learn concepts of a language and to better understand the functions of each language.
Someone from the department of Biomedical Informatics at Emory who had attended our Demo Day presentation contacted me a couple of weeks afterward and asked if I would be willing to come in for an interview for a mobile engineering position. Even though I was still junior level in Java, he gave me a chance.
Now, I am honestly working at the best job of my life, with the best cause in the world. My job is to develop mobile health applications for people in remote villages that don’t have access to health care in areas of Guatemala and other isolated areas in third world countries.
The specific application that I am working on right now is an Android application that hooks up to ultrasound devices. It helps midwives who are taking care of pregnant women. Most of them are unable to read, so I had to tailor this application for them. It is very vocal and visual, with audible instructions.
It’s really ironic that I was pre-med and I still somehow ended up in the medical field, not as a doctor but as a developer. Now, I’m finishing my bachelor’s degree online, and at the same time doing a job I love.
Andrew followed the footsteps of hundreds and hundreds of students who have forged their own path by attending The Iron Yard. The graduates below have their own unique stories to tell as well. Whether you're looking to find a more fulfilling career or fulfill your love of technology, there are alumni who have walked your path.