Friday, August 15, 2014

The Mars Rover Project

Last time I posted, I was talking about upgrading my professional marketing materials, i.e. LinkedIn, because one of my friends told me about an entry level programming position. Well, they contacted me the next day and the interview process has begun. My first tasks are to watch a video, fill out a questionnaire, and choose one of three programming problems to solve. There were three choices, the first was one involving a transit system, the second was one that calculates taxes and tariffs on goods and prints out a receipt, and the last one was to write a program where you hypothetically help NASA track rovers on Mars. I think we all know which one I picked. :)

The first one, I skipped, because writing a program about a train system didn't interest me enough to stop there and the second one wasn't that exciting to me, plus I have two other friends in the process who are both doing that one. The last one was right up my alley: writing a program to plot the position of Mars rovers.

I love astronomy. The extreme speeds and grad scale of the universe is one of the most fascinating things that I can imagine. I took several astronomy classes as an undergrad and since then, I have kept up to date on most of what's going on in the field. So naturally, I jumped at the opportunity to pretend like I had a job with JPL. I've already started working on it and I am thoroughly enjoying it. When I first looked at the problem, it seemed a little bit overwhelming, but it is way too interesting and fun to not do it. Once I started working on it and breaking it down into smaller pieces, it became manageable and much less menacing and it is starting to come together.

I hope that I never stop getting excited when I get my programs working.  I like puzzles and I do many different types of them, but I never find myself getting extremely pumped because I solved one. It's way more fun to code. Don't get me wrong, I do feel satisfaction in completing puzzles, but when I make programs work, I get extra excited. It's more like scoring in sports, than solving a puzzle.

... I guess you had to be there.

UPDATE: I've watched the video and turned in my program and questionnaire.

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