I am a geek, and my passion is creating insanely great software. It all started back when I was 11 years old and saw my first computer. A light bulb went off, and programming instantly became the most awesome thing in the world to me. By the time I was in high school, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life: write code.

Now, well into my career, I feel incredibly lucky that my job is really my hobby, and my hobby is really my job. My day job is to head up mobile development at a D.C. science and technology think tank called Noblis, and I love what I do. If you want to know more about me, see my LinkedIn profile here.

I credit my early exposure to coding with a lot of my professional successes. So when my son turned 11 years old, I started to look around for a coding class for him to take, and quickly found none that did it “right” as far as I was concerned. It was disappointing to find that instead of teaching kids to use professional tools to build “real” software, all of the available classes offered some sort of “baby” programming in a sandbox environment.

I know from experience that kids can be plenty smart, and can appreciate and “get” real things; things don’t need to be dumbed down for them. So in 2015, partially for my son’s sake, and partially for my own, I took the plunge and started the <HelloWorld/> Coding Club, where kids learn programming using real languages and use real tools to build real applications.

I found that kids who are into coding and have a knack for it truly appreciate the “real” experience. They don’t need the “crutches” often handed to them in other kids’ coding classes. I also found that I love teaching. It is so gratifying to see kids’ eyes light up when they realize that coding is not “voodoo,” that they can do it themselves, and that it’s a lot of fun!

I’m in my third year of running <HelloWorld/>, and the kids who've been with the program since the beginning can now do some pretty sophisticated stuff! I hope to continue bringing the rewards of coding (and reaping the rewards of teaching!) with each new crop of students.

Ilya Basin