We’re so excited to welcome James Dabbs as the latest addition to The Iron Yard – Atlanta team. He’s diving in full force to teach Rails Engineering, and he can’t wait to get back into education:
By James Dabbs, Ruby on Rails Engineering Instructor
Hey gang, take a knee. My name is James, and I’ll be your new Rails instructor.
Backstory: I have always been fascinated by structure. As a kid I was big in to Legos. As a gawky teen, I got hooked on math. My first real exposure to software was when my Dad showed me how to hex-edit my Sim City 2000 save file to give myself FFFFFFF dollars. I also learned about integer overflows and teachable moments that day. (Sidenote: if that story doesn’t make sense, come grab me next time you have 15 minutes; I’d love to explain.)
I ended up getting pretty serious about math (even have the tattoo to prove it), spending three years teaching everything from Intro Algebra to Diff EQ while working on my master’s research (applications of monads to topology – cool brag, I know). Two important things happened during that time: I learned how rewarding it is to engage students and help them grapple with a new challenge; and I started an extended yak shaving project to modernize a classic math text, Counterexamples in Topology, into a web app with a searchable database.
Somewhere in the process of seriously learning to code for that project, I fell head-over-heels in love with programming. Since finishing up my degree, I’ve done some freelance web development, worked on a Rails project for Peace Corps volunteers in Senegal (today … tomorrow, the world), and got my topology database up and running (http://topology.jdabbs.com/ – though, spoiler alert: this version is in Haskell). For the last two years, I’ve been engineering at Emcien where I worked on the pattern detection engine and got to learn a ton about a lot of technologies – Ruby, Rails, C FFI, Node, and more. I’ve also been fairly involved with the Atlanta Ruby group; you can see some of those talks on my blog @ http://jdabbs.com/talks.
When I’m not working on or talking about software (which, admittedly, is infrequently), I’m probably doing something musical – practicing drums, noodling around with Overtone, or catching a show somewhere. Next up: Iron Lung and Ceremony at the Mammal Gallery, if anyone wants to tag along. Recommendations always welcome; anything with some interesting structure will get a listen.
I’m super excited about coming to The Iron Yard and getting back to teaching. The people I’ve met so far have been flabbergastingly awesome, and (no pressure but) I’m looking forward to getting to know everyone else in the coming weeks. Writing software is a special kind of rewarding – both problem solving and craftsmanship, equal parts art and science. I hope to be able to share some of that joy with my students and help them take their first steps towards a long and fulfilling career.