User Interface Development - Speaker/Workshop Tech Series #2

By Terence Lee

On July 15, 2017, EqOpTech hosts a second tech talk in a series of Speaker/Workshop for students interested in the tech fields. The tech talk features Kevin Whitley, Software Engineer from Roadster, a silicon valley startup.  

July 15, 2017, Speaker/Workshop Series #2 - User Interface Engineering

July 15, 2017, Speaker/Workshop Series #2 - User Interface Engineering

The seminar attendees learn how Roadster revolutionizes the car-shopping experience and hear a deep dive discussion with the developer and cofounder, Kevin Whitley, who designs and builds the self-service User Interface (Roadster Express) that gets customers through the entire transaction 100% online with the brand-new vehicles delivered to their doorstep.

Whitley kicks off the meeting by underscoring the importance of being a good communicator, facilitator and team member in addition to technical skills. Having these skill set will not only bring lots of value to any organization but also happiness at work. 

So Many UI Tools, So Little Time

User Interface ("UI") development is changing so rapidly, it is important to be able to learn something brand new every 6 months, according to Whitley. With Javascript and CSS, new libraries and frameworks are released every week, the best way to learn them is to build sample application on a personal website even though the new technology is half-baked and may not be ready for prime time to be used in business. Further, they may not be compatible with all browsers. Given so many Javascript tools and framework (React, Angular, View), Whitley recommends Stack Overflow, a bulletin, wiki forum for UI developers to collaborate all day long where they can learn, share and build careers. 

The Power of More with Less - Amazon S3

What used to take an army of technical staff twenty years ago at Ariba now takes only four people to build a software application at Roadster.

What is the difference: inexpensive software libraries, database and operational deployment now made possible by Amazon Web Services on the cloud.  "Nowadays, a small team can build a good size application and use inexpensive tools to deploy it on cheap software," said Whitley. "This trend will continue with Uber, AirBnB using platform as a service on the cloud. Before long, one person will now be able to build software to design a house, an airplane, send someone to the moon, you can solve a problem with few people, pretty cool!"

Tips on How to Get Started on coding

Besides being a programmer, Whitley writes poetry, he offers the best way to get started is to read a book, google search and find online resources such as courses, forums etc. "Don't just read the course, code, don't copy the code, just do the coding," said Whitley. "Don't forget to reach out to the community for help and support."

Good book and online resources include: HTML for dummies, Coursera, Udacity, Lynda, Code School and Stanford online courses which are often free. Whitley suggests that students should learn both HTML/CSS for design/look and feel; Javascript for programming, algorithm to solve a business problem.

Real Learning versus Textbook Learning

Real learning comes from internship, a portfolio of experience, accomplishments and technical/soft skills one can bring to the table. Whitley also provides students some pointers on resume building and career networking. Generally, recruiters or hiring managers spend less than 30 seconds to scan resumes, he discusses best practices on how to communicate and make the right impression to pass the 30-seconds scan.

When asked what kind of workers will a hiring manager be looking to hire; "someone who is smart; can get the job done and can work with people," Whitley said. "Get the job done, prove yourself, is far more important than graduating from a top school."

Our past and upcoming events are posted on our website here, including topics on networking, cyber security, user interface development, entrepreneurship, machine learning, artificial intelligence, entrepreneurship and CAD engineering etc. Please stay tuned.

Our Equal Opportunity Technology program is made possible thanks to Los Altos Community Foundation community grant award.

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