Meet N. Peterson | Paramedic Turned Objective C, Swift, iOS Enthusiast

The Iron Yard academy teaches intensive, three month courses that are churning out  junior-level programmers into the Atlanta tech talent pool. Meet  one of their recent graduates, Nick Peterson to hear about his experience at The Iron yard and what he is looking to do next.

What program did you just complete?
I have just endured 12 grueling but rewarding weeks learning to code Objective C and Swift while attending the iOS Mobile Engineering course at The Iron Yard.

What past tech projects have you worked on?
Before The Iron Yard, I was on my way to becoming a paramedic, so there weren’t many tech projects.
But since I started this immersive course, I have been provided with countless opportunities, which have included:

  • Forge Hackathon – I was a mentor for this event. The theme of this hackathon was to figure out ways to integrate technology into the medical field to eliminate problems such as leaving tools within a patient during surgery, and the transfer of healthcare data between primary care teams (just to name a couple). I spent the majority of my time with one of the teams trying to build a method to transfer patient information with little effort, 100% accuracy, and at little cost. My team came up with a great method using NFC chips implanted into hospital bracelets to carry the data, though I brought up a potential security issue which needed to be addressed.
  • Basics of Programming (ages 8-12) – As a volunteer instructor, and with the help of my co-instructor, we taught 8 – 12 year olds the basic logic around programming using a tool developed at MIT called “Scratch.” Scratch, in my opinion, is one of the easiest ways to teach programming logic to kids due to its drag and drop coding mechanic. With this amazing piece of software, over the course of 4 weeks, we turned 17 kids into Junior Scratch Developers. Each week, my co-instructor and I had to come up with what terminology we wanted to cover, and what project (usually a game) we would make to reinforce the teachings.
  • The Iron Yard Hackathon – I was the only iOS developer on my team during this hackathon. We were tasked to create a file sharing service that eliminated the hoops that clients typically have to jump through to receive the files they need. Using front-end, back-end, and iOS technology, we were able to create a fully functioning, multi-platform product. For the mobile side of this project, I created a client which employees would be able to log in to see the folders that are on a server (as well as key information about those folders), and also see what the files contained, with the added feature of being able to send a client a unique URL to their files from anywhere.
  • Intermediate Programming (ages 8-12) – Just like the beginner course, I am a volunteer instructor. In this session, I am showing a more advanced scope of programming. Thursdays until October 30th, I will be showing the kids how to build the classic game “Frogger” (using Scratch).

What are your best technical or creative skills?
With the help of all the work from my final project and The Iron Yard Hackathon, I would say that my technical skill strengths are:

  • The ability to create apps that pull data from a server via API endpoints
  • Displaying dynamic information on table views
  • Splitting up a view controller into working multiple subviews
  • Being able to work with frameworks that include:
  • Mobile Core Services (camera stuff)
  • Store Kit
  • Game Center
  • Activity Controller
  • Also Googling things… The Iron Yard has made me a pro at that.

As for the creative side, my design abilities definitely have improved over the duration of this course. I am able to come up with app designs that span the range from fun to professional. Also, I have designed multiple app logos, icons, and load screens in addition to their view controllers.

What’s next on your list to learn?
Everything. To be more specific, I am extremely excited to dive straight into learning the new graphics API, “Metal.” It will be challenging, but I have read that if you can learn Metal, SpriteKit and SceneKit are a walk in the park. A more professional thing that’s on my list would just be to solidify my knowledge with the Swift language by reading and coding practice.

For the design side, I really want to learn how to use Blender and create amazing 3D models. Since Metal has made graphics within games run so smoothly on the iPhone, I really want to be able to create everything that pops into my mind.

What’s your ideal internship/job?
My ideal job would be one that is fast-paced, constantly innovating, and providing the ability to work on multiple projects over the course of a year as a Junior iOS Developer. One of the fields I could easily picture myself working in would be a creative group-type. Especially since I have been in the arts (music, art, etc) for a huge chunk of my life.

Interested in startups?
I have definitely thought about joining a startup. I am a huge proponent of having a fantastic company culture, and startups seem to have just that. If I love the place I work, and I am passionate about the work I am doing there, it wouldn’t be called “work.”

Post graduation plans?
I plan to be a full time iOS Developer. Apart from polishing up my final project app with a couple updates, I really want to find a creative group, or an awesome startup. I will also continue writing posts for my blog as well as learning about anything that peaks my interest in the coding world.

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