Each month, Code the Dream acknowledges a volunteer who has made a unique impact on our community. This month, we are excited to celebrate Jeff Loucks, Frontend Developer at Tektronix. Jeff has been a mentor and assignment reviewer in CTD’s Intro and React classes throughout 2023. He helps students progress through our classes by providing feedback on their weekly coding assignments, meeting individually with students who are stuck, and holding group sessions for students exploring new content. Jeff shared more about his career and experience with Code the Dream:
Tell us about yourself.
Like many developers I know, I didn’t follow the traditional path to software engineering. I was in marketing for most of my career until a series of challenges inspired me to make a change.
On March 3rd, 2020 my wife Anupa and I woke up to the sound of our house collapsing and twisting from its foundation by an EF3 tornado. As we walked away from the remains of our home covered in insulation and dust, I turned to Anupa and said, “Well, at least I don’t have to go to work tomorrow.” This moment continued to pulse in my mind as we moved throughout the remainder of that strange and globally traumatic year.
Given so much change, I decided I wanted to start making some of my own changes. My silly post-tornado quip about being relieved to not have to go work made me realize I wanted to do something different. So, I started learning to code with the help of some friends and online tutorials. I didn’t know where it would take me, or if I would even stick with it.
A year later in the spring of 2021, I was still unsure of how to make a career change. I confided in an engineer at work about how I had been learning to code and that I didn’t know where to go next. In that conversation, he offered me a position on his team. Shortly after, I was officially transferred to the software engineering team at Tektronix as a frontend developer.
Why did you get involved with Code the Dream?
I never thought I’d actually be able to become a software developer. I didn’t think I was smart enough. It was through the practical application of building a real project, working with a team and mentorship that I was able to discover coding as a creative outlet. I learned coding isn’t this unattainable thing built for mathletes, but simply a tool that anyone can learn.
When I learned about Code the Dream, I wanted to get involved because I wanted to give students the mentorship and encouragement my colleagues gave me. One of my favorite parts of working with students is helping them see their own potential, and watching them learn that they are capable of doing hard things.
What has been meaningful about your experience with Code the Dream?
I love working with students on their assignments, and getting into the weeds of how the internet works. One of my favorite things I often hear students say is, “Oh, I knew that!” because it’s just more confirmation of what I already know about them: They already possess the ability to succeed; Code the Dream just gives them the tools to get there.
Software developers know that feeling of elation when you finally fix a bug that you’ve been working on a long time. Code the Dream has allowed me to share in that same feeling of joy with new software developers every week as they conquer the fundamentals of programming.
Several students shared about why they appreciate Jeff:
“Jeff has provided candid, useful, and valuable feedback. I’ve felt part of a code review team and look forward to working with professionals like Jeff in the future.”Gregory, Intro to Programming Student
“Jeff’s mentor sessions were above and beyond what I expected. While I was content with simply submitting the assignment, Jeff made sure that I went back and suggested a few things that needed to be improved. Thank you so much for that extra push.”Veronica, Intro to Programming Student
“Jeff is great! He is a natural teacher. We even stayed about 30 minutes longer than required as some people had more questions.”Aysa, Intro to Programming Student
Thank you, Jeff, for the incredible contribution you’ve made to our community!