Mentor Monday: Meet Andrés


Andrés Ramirez

Bold Idea Mentor

What do most people not know about you?

Regardless of my career path of software engineering, I like to be outdoors most of the time – running, cycling, rock climbing, or even social dancing. I started with running – I did that all the way through high school and college, and still do. During college I started accruing some of those other hobbies.

How did you get interested in computer science?

I was a math major and I ended up taking an introductory course in Python for a credit. I ended up liking it quite a bit, and I was able to transfer some of those math credits for a computer science degree. It all started with that intro to Python course.

What caught your attention and convinced you to swap paths?

It was mainly all the things that I was able to do, like building a cool interface for the user to interact with, put information into and request stuff from the program with.

What project are you currently working on?

I’m actually in the middle of converting a graduate school thesis project dealing with hyperspectral imaging into open source code. It will basically be a toolkit for dealing with super large images. Hyperspectral imaging is just a fancy word for images that have more than just the red, green, and blue channels. These tend to be large images; they can be from one GB up to 500 GB in size. This code could be useful for remote sensing with airplanes or drones.

What have you gained from being a mentor with Bold Idea?

I’ve been working with the third to fifth grade students, and I’ve learned a lot of patience. Sometimes they get impatient, or they just get tired of working for an hour straight, so I try to understand them and think of new ways to go over concepts they can’t understand.

Also, I’ve learned what my level of mastery is on some topics. It becomes apparent if you don’t know a topic when you can’t explain it to a younger kid. So, I’ll go back home, hit the books a little bit and try to think of a different manner to explain it to them.

What is something you enjoy about volunteering here?

I like the “aha” moments they have when they’re struggling to debug something, and then I don’t give them the answer fully. They just use all the ideas and knowledge that I gave them before, and then they reach it and say, “Oh, this is why!” and they get all happy and continue working.

What is it about the mission here that connects with you?

It’s been good to give my time and spread computer science out to anybody that wants to learn it. It’s the same idea of why I’m making an open source program – I’m making the knowledge freely available. I’m just trying to spread knowledge to people, basically. It doesn’t have to be at a cost. I’m not saying don’t go to school, but even if you do go to school and want a career change, there’s a lot of freely available resources that should be doable.