Kirschen works for Rockwell Collins, an avionics corporation. She also blogs on technology, Apple-related things, and food at Free Range Coder. And she’s the curator of App Stories, the blog you’re reading.
- What do you currently do?
I’m a Principal Systems Engineer at Rockwell Collins working on flight deck displays, also known as cockpit display systems. In my spare time at home, I’ve been tinkering with writing OS X and iOS apps. I’m very passionate about encouraging young women to get into careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics).
- How did you get started in Mac and/or iOS programming?
I first started programming back when I was 18 at pre-university school in Singapore. We had an extra curricular course on learning the BASIC programming language and practical exercises on a minicomputer. I was very motivated by this and my dad (an Electrical Engineer) bought me an Apple ][ back in 1979. I taught myself BASIC, Pascal, C, and 6502 assembly language. From that Apple ][ I moved on to a Mac Plus on which I continued to learn Mac OS programming in C and Pascal. The Mac’s graphical user interface was quite different from the text based Apple ][ – more new things to learn! Starting on iOS programming came much later in 2009.
- What was the first app you created and what did it do?
My very first program / app was written in BASIC back in 1978. Its purpose was to calculate the roots of a quadratic equation ax2 + bx + c = 0 using the mathematical formula I had learned in school.
- Where did you get the idea for the app?
From a maths class at school.
- What went well? What could have gone better?
It calculated roots properly, except for imaginary ones. I later corrected it to handle imaginary roots (those which had the square root of -1).
- What is your favorite among the apps you’ve developed?
It’s the one I’m currently working on to help bicycle mechanics properly adjust bike wheels. I attended a bicycle mechanics course last year and there was one part in which which we had to interpolate values in a table. Now for engineers this was quite easy, but many people in the class struggled with the concept. So I decided to write an app which would do the table lookup and interpolation. I’m now waiting for agreement from the company which makes the tables so I can use the data in my program.
- What advice do you have for young people who want to make apps?
Always be learning! There are many new things to discover in computers, programming, and software. Remember that there are always people smarter than yourself from whom you can learn much. And to those who seek to know and understand more, be there to teach them what you have learnt. Also, reach out to your peers and connect with them, both in person, and online – community is what brings us together. Together we learn, together we share. Best of wishes as you embark on your app development career!
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