To celebrate coding and programmers, we are highlighting YouthSpark stars in Asia Pacific who have learned to code and have found success in school, competitions and career by understanding this language. We hope their stories will inspire you. What are you waiting for? Learn to speak Code now. #WeSpeakCode.
Name: Gabriel Eric Majo Villanueva
Occupation: Student, Treston International College
Gabriel Eric Majo Villanueva has clinched a number of achievements, and he hasn’t even graduated from college yet. Most recently, he and his team placed first in the international Imagine Cup 2014 User Experience Challenge – Innovation Category, for a comprehensive app that helps commuters plan their routes. Prior to this, he has been an avid tech writer with his tech blog nominated for awards in the Philippines and in the United States. Apart from being an official Microsoft Student Partner, Gabriel is also a certified Microsoft Office Specialist at Microsoft Philippines, and recently received the 2014 Microsoft MVP Award for his contributions. He aspires to be the next Bill Gates, Steve Jobs or Satoru Iwata.
Can you tell us how you got started in coding?
My interest in programming started when I was 16, and C++ was the first programming language I encountered. From then on, I explored and learned other programming languages, such as Java and Visual Basic, both in college and in my own free time.
What are some coding projects that you have done?
I’m very excited about the travel app that my team designed for the Imagine Cup User Challenge. This app pulls in real-time information from various forms of road-based public transport, as well as the rail system, to help commuters plan the best way to get to their destinations. Commuters can rate their travel experience, file complaints and request emergency assistance. They can also pull up maps, ratings and other dynamic data. We hope that the app will benefit the thousands of people who take public transport everyday in Manila, and hopefully, be adapted to help commuters in other parts of the world.
I also created The Ultimate Cyborg, a blog to provide information on the latest technological innovations. I was rather overwhelmed by the support and interest in it. The blog not only became one of the 120 most viewed blogs in the Philippines, it also made it as a finalist for the Best Technology Blog on the National Level at the Philippine Blog Awards. It was also nominated at the Chicago International Blog Awards for Best Science Blog.
The YouthSpark WeSpeakCode campaign aims to encourage young people to learn code. If you were to speak to the younger generation, what kind of advice would you give them?
Learning a programming language isn’t easy at first. You need dedication, focus and passion in order to have a solid grasp of it. A good way to start would be to first consider the platform you want your apps to be published on, so you can determine the programming language you should learn.
With Internet access, aspiring programmers today have easy access to learning resources. To cite a few, there are websites like the Microsoft Virtual Academy, code.org and Lynda.com. Or they can purchase guide books, too. Don’t ever hesitate to spend on acquiring these resources, because you may well earn it back again. Just think of them as investments for becoming the next programming superstar!
From experience and after assessing my strengths and interests, I find that I am more a visual person, as in, I am more interested in the visual aspects of application development. But I know a solid foundation in programming will help me achieve the final product I want, which is why I’m still upgrading my skills whenever I can.
Remember: you are never too old or too young to learn programming!
You’ve already accomplished so much. Where do you see yourself in five years after graduating from college?
I see myself as a passionate and unstoppable individual working in a big tech multinational company, earning a stable income that can support my family and at the same time, finance my own needs. I wish that I would have by then fulfilled my dreams of visiting New York City and the Silicon Valley.
Ultimately, I hope to realise my biggest aspiration which is to make an impact in the tech industry through innovation, and to live by a “do no harm” work ethic at every stage of my career.