Our Mentors

Our volunteer mentors come from a wide range of professions, including university students, senior developers and general managers to name a few! Think you’ve got what it takes to train the next generation of coders? Register your interest to mentor here.

Brisbane Square

Emily de la PenaEmilydelaPina_cropped

What do you enjoy most about mentoring at CoderDojo Brisbane?

I enjoy seeing ninjas grow and the journey their learning takes them. I love to experience the creativity and joy in building projects.

What’s the coolest project you’ve worked on with code?

I am currently building a text adventure game in Python with a friend. It’s a bit like the Choose Your Own Adventure novels, which were popular in the 80s and 90s, but in a computer game format. You interact with the story and you get to make decisions for the protagonist. I really love it because it combines a lot of things that I love: storytelling, adventure, computer programming, game development, imagination, collaboration, hobby projects.

Is there anything you wish you could tell your eight-year-old self?

Learning is fun! The more you learn, the more you can be creative and build stuff. Learning to code gives you the tools to turn your imagination into reality. Computer programming isn’t just for building intangible software and apps. Robotics and invention kits run off code, they are 10 per cent  hardware and 90 per cent software. Being able to code means that the functionality and capabilities of your inventions are limitless.

If you ever wished that something existed, then stop wishing and start building. If you want to solve a problem, then start developing a solution.

Keep learning. Keep building. Keep imagining of a better future.

How has coding helped your career?

I have a bit of an interesting story.

I had worked as a transport planner (civil engineer) for over a decade. I also worked as an English teacher in Germany and as a Community Cause Accounts Manager for a social enterprise startup. When I was working at the startup I began to realise how sheltered my career in transport planning had been.

Working at the startup opened my eyes to the fast-changing world, economy and nature of jobs. I quickly realised that digital literacy was becoming more and more vital in job roles as technology becomes more prevalent in all industries, e.g. agriculture, manufacturing, retail, medicine. No industry will be left untouched by technology, and digital literacy will be a necessary skill just like numeracy and traditional literacy.

I taught myself to code and now I run Coding Kids, coding clubs at primary schools around Brisbane and Ipswich. I also run School Holiday Code Camps.

What’s your ultimate career goal?

To be a key driver of digital literacy education in Australia.

Listen to Emily’s interview on ABC Radio about children learning to code: https://soundcloud.com/612abcbrisbane/emily-de-la-pena-coding

Samuel WindellSamuelWindall_cropped

What do you enjoy most about mentoring at CoderDojo Brisbane?

It has to be the look of wonder and achievement on the kids’ faces. When you do as much coding as I do, it becomes a tool. Helping kids with their projects and seeing the excitement and enthusiasm they pour into the session really grounds me and reminds what amazing things you can do with a bit of imagination.

What’s the coolest project you’ve worked on with code?

That’s a tough question. As a child, I fondly remember building and coding a rubber band turret that tracked people who entered my room and fired rubber bands at them, probably not the safest thing I ever did. These days I work on Model Driven Engineering specifically relating to code that writes other code, which I think is pretty awesome.

Is there anything you wish you could tell your eight-year-old self?

As cliche as it sounds, follow your dreams, not others’ expectations. The love of money will get you nowhere, so do what makes you happy.

I was one of those odd children who got into coding on their own at a very young age despite my parents being rather computer illiterate, and it just happened to be my thing.

How has coding helped your career?

As a software engineer/developer. You could say coding is my career.

What’s your ultimate career goal?

Personally, I don’t have a career goal, I am one of the lucky people who is immensely passionate about their field.

I supposed my career goal is just an extension of my life goal – to be happy. To me, that means I want to challenge myself and others. I want to learn continually and experience new things and use that to better my life and the lives of others. I think Christopher Morley expresses my view on success perfectly: “There is only one success – to be able to spend your life in your own way.” My way is to question everything because there is nothing too big to be improved on.

Abdullah AlbarrakAbdullahMohammedAlbarrak_cropped

What do you enjoy most about mentoring at CoderDojo Brisbane?

Meeting bright kids and cheerful mentors to practise our favourite hobby: coding!

What’s the coolest project you’ve worked on with code?

Teaching kids how to code interactive games and visual stories using Scratch.

Is there anything you wish you could tell your eight-year-old self?

Learning coding concepts using young-friendly programs, e.g. Scratch.

How has coding helped your career?

Coding helped me to understand how (almost) all apps I use on my mobile and computer work. How cool is that!

What’s your ultimate career goal?

Start a business with partners to build and code mobile and web-based apps.


Carindale

Kaamraan KamaalKaamraan_cropped

What do you enjoy most about mentoring at CoderDojo Brisbane?

Seeing the children light up with joy when they are able to solve the problems they run into while creating their games, and being able to help them do that, is THE most amazing thing ever!

What’s the coolest project you’ve worked on with code?

Making a mini keyboard (piano) on my computer, and having it automatically create and play me awesome music based on my mood (ex: calm and peaceful for a Tuesday night dinner, while fast and pumped up for a workout session).

Is there anything you wish you could tell your eight-year-old self?

Hmmm, just don’t stop playing those video games little guy! Because someday, you are going to be making them.

How has coding helped your career?

I’ve always loved making games, and coding has helped me shape my way towards making that my career.

What’s your ultimate career goal?

My ultimate career goal is to be in a position to be able to spread happiness to every corner of the planet.


Chermside

Eric StaykovErikStaykov_cropped

What do you enjoy most about mentoring at CoderDojo Brisbane?

The thing I enjoy most about mentoring at CoderDojo is teaching kids basic electronics and programming and seeing them learn things really quickly.

What’s the coolest project you’ve worked on with code?

I made an inverted pendulum robot for fun https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nxRWKAauAMo

Is there anything you wish you could tell your eight-year-old-self?

I would have told my eight-year-old self to start coding as soon as possible. Coding allows you to apply your ideas and create an unlimited amount of things.

How has coding helped your career?

Being able to code allowed me to do internships at companies as part of my university studies.

What’s your ultimate career goal?

I would like to have a job that involves coding, teaching and electronics.

James RadvanJamesRadvan_cropped

What do you enjoy most about mentoring at CoderDojo Brisbane?

Seeing that magic moment when the kids understand that making their cool ideas come to life is actually within their ability.

What’s the coolest project you’ve worked on with code?

The iPad game I’m building with my own kids – which is a modern take on a pencil and paper game I played with my brothers in the 1980s.

Is there anything you wish you could tell your eight-year-old self?

Consuming cool things is great for inspiration, but creating is far more rewarding and important. Don’t just consume!

How has coding helped your career?

I’ve made a second career out of software, starting with my first web business in 1997 through Java contracting in Europe and the US to my current role as the GM of Queensland’s largest independent web and mobile studio.

What’s your ultimate career goal?

I’m enjoying my career, and will stay in tech leadership while getting more involved in community projects like CoderDojo, tech startups and game development.

Alex JacobsAlexJacobs_cropped

What do you enjoy most about mentoring at CoderDojo Brisbane?

Teaching kids how to code and showing how easy it is to be a programmer.

What’s the coolest project you’ve worked on with code?

Dominos and MySchools websites.

Is there anything you wish you could tell your eight year old self?

Programming is not complicated, believe in yourself and do it!

How has coding helped your career?

I have been a programmer for past 13 years and I’m gifted with doing what I enjoy to do as my job.

What’s your ultimate career goal?

Having my own software development company.


Grange

Patrick Eaton

What do you enjoy most about mentoring at CoderDojo Brisbane?

I enjoy helping the kids grow and learn. I usually run the advanced side of the room and get to teach kids about some cool technology that I’m very passionate about.

What’s the coolest project you’ve worked on with code?

Building a satirical Australian Politics site that became a minor viral sensation for a few months.

Is there anything you wish you could tell your eight-year-old self?

Start working on more personal projects early on. The degree is good, but nowhere near as valuable as the experiences that come from building real projects.

How has coding helped your career?

Coding is my career, I love it. Every day I get to come into work and build interesting projects.

What’s your ultimate career goal?

Keep moving up in the IT world, becoming a senior developer, then lead, then potentially even a CTO.


Kenmore

Dave MeibuschDaveMeibusch_cropped

What do you enjoy most about mentoring at CoderDojo Brisbane?

Those moments of pride and achievement when a young ninja demonstrates to the room, then the amazed words from their parents: “She is usually terrified of presenting her work!”

What’s the coolest project you’ve worked on with code?

Back when the internet was new, we convinced a bank that online banking would be A Good Thing and built it for them!

Is there anything you wish you could tell your eight-year-old self?

Don’t wait until you are 10 years old to get your own PC!

How has coding helped your career?

Is that a trick question? Coding IS my career!

What’s your ultimate career goal?

To keep working on software projects with people that inspire me to build great things.

Julian Biddle

What do you enjoy most about mentoring at CoderDojo Brisbane?

Seeing kids light up about creating programs.

What’s the coolest project you’ve worked on with code?

The educational game “eidy” that connects parents and kids. I’m working on that right now.

Is there anything you wish you could tell your eight-year-old self?

Don’t just dream about creating great things, keep on creating great things. Keep learning, keep growing.

How has coding helped your career?

I have been a software developer and architect for over 25 years. I still enjoy coding.

What’s your ultimate career goal?

My ultimate career goal is to continue to be involved in the development of the latest technology, particularly in education. I want to create humane technology that empowers and inspires.


Sunnybank

Chey Peralta 

Q What was your first creation using code?

A nifty autoexec batch file.

Q Why have you become involved with CoderDojo Brisbane?

It was through a mentor that got me into IT. CodeDojo gives me that opprtunity to pay it forward.


Senior Mentors

John Harrison

Q What was your first creation using code?
It was a program that I made at school that simply computed the average of a list of numbers. Back then, no one was allowed to actually touch the computer – it was as big as a car and was kept in a locked room. Instead, we used a machine that punched holes in paper cards, which represented the program. An operator then placed the cards into the computer for processing and would later give us back some paper with the results. The printer made a grinding noise like it was eating metal.

Q Why have you become involved with CoderDojo Brisbane?
I believe it is important to teach children to program as this skill will enable them to fully participate in the emerging digital world. CoderDojo facilitates this by providing a collaborative, interesting, and fun, environment.

Cristina Cifuentes

Q What was your first creation using code?

It was a chess program using Basic on the TRS-80.  This was during my last year of high school, when a computer classroom became available at school.  We used to store our programs in cassette tapes at the time.

Q Why have you become involved with CoderDojo Brisbane?

Kids are tomorrow’s future and kids learn very quickly when they are young.  In today’s world, kids are interested not only in knowing how to interact with technology but in knowing how to develop technology since early in life.  Being able to help them is a good investment into tomorrow’s future.

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