TechNow Summer Programming Camp

techNowLogo.jpgLast July, fifteen high school students participated in the first annual TechNow Programming Camp. For three days they learned how to program using a language called Alice– creating 3-D games and animated movies. Each day, during lunch, employees from the corporate sponsors, Wells Fargo Bank, James Tower, Inc., and Carlson Craft Business Solutions, joined the students and talked about career possibilities. The instructors during the summer camp were Peter Johnson, Tom Edwards from the Computer Careers department here at South Central College, North Mankato campus, and Jeff Seehafer, from GFW High School in Winthrop. The students represented several area high schools including Waseca, GFW, East, St. Clair, and Loyola.

The programming camp was a resounding success and there are plans to expand the camp so more students from different grade levels can participate. If you are interested in next year’s camp contact Peter Johnson peter.johnson@southcentral.edu. Here’s more information about the TechNow initiative.


Here are some shots showing the students during the session and a view of the program named Alice.

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The SCC Administration visits the Programming Camp (left to right: Larry Wall, Steve Sletcha, President Keith Stover, W.C. Sanders, Nancy Genelin. )

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Rebecca Bohm from Wells Fargo Bank, Minneapolis and Alex Clemons a student at Waseca High School talk about his Alice program.

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Got API?

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Got API?

An Application Programming Interface is a set of functions that let you “hook” into a system without having access to the source code or inside workings of that system. There’s an API for all the modern languages like Java, PHP, Ruby On Rails, and HTML. Sites such as Google, Amazon, and eBay all have an API allowing programmers to access information from their sites. Here’s a list of the APIs Google has available for many of its services including maps, adwords, and Blogger data. This lets a savvy programmer include all types of eBay or Amazon services on their web site by using what these sites have already created.

You can also think of an API as a dictionary. Just like an English dictionary displays words and their meanings, an API lists all the functions available in the API as well as what type of information each one is expecting and what type of information each function will return. Programmers use an API as a reference in using functions correctly.

Up until now a programmer had to keep a copy of each API on their computer or keep a list of bookmarks pointing to the APIs out on Web.

gotapi.com changes all of that. All the common language APIs are now available from a single link page. (Sorry, the application APIs such as Google, Amazon, and eBay aren’t listed yet.) As a programmer this means you can find information quickly as you are writing code.

gotAPIStartMenu.jpgTip: With the gotapi.com page displaying, click and drag the icon in the Address field gotAPIURL.jpgof your browser and drop it on upper part of your Start menu button. You’ll see a solid black line showing you were it will be positioned as you drag it into the Start list.

Anytime you need to look up a function, gotAPI.com is only a click or two away.

– Special thanks to Sean Washington for reminding me about this really great programming tool.


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