Hacktoberfest organizers Chovin Carlson and Sky Resendez. Photo by Johanna Salinas
Anyone want to argue the technology isn’t a key to modernizing a community? I thought not. Guam may be far from the wonders of Silicon Valley or enchantments of Tokyo, and certainly an unlikely hub for technology.
But last month, the Code Fountain Institute hosted its first Hacktoberfest to bring together the island’s techies. While these folks are often stereotyped as nerdy introverts, the group’s leader, Chovin Carlson, believes that Guam’s coders just needed their own community in order to network and grow. "When I returned to Guam from college, I couldn't really find an active programming group, so we started our own organization, Free Code Camp Guam and now we have the Code Fountain Institute,” said Chovin. “We thought there wasn't much tech curiosity in Guam, but a good amount of people were at the fest. Guam has people who are passionate and who just needed a way to connect. Hacktoberfest has brought people together and we can share ideas and we're all excited to make happen here.”
Hacktoberfest, held Oct. 13 at Westin Resort Guam, had workshops to show the island’s coders new programs and applications such as Github and Raspberry Pi to better enhance the coders’ repertoire.
After seeing the states and seeing how computers support so much of society, Chovin feels that Guam needs to keep up with the rest of America. “[The] open source community has been thriving and it's getting bigger. It's how technologies create," said Chovin. "All these new processes and tools are coming out of the open source community and every year it's being celebrated--this is the fifth year Free Code Camp celebrated Hacktoberfest worldwide. We think Guam has a lot of potential. We want to bring that community here and help everyone teach and learn from each other and make software together.”
Science and math are fundamental to technology, but Chovin knows that technology doesn’t have to be all about logic and numbers. “Art and music are what got me interested in programming,” he said. Chovin does not necessarily see STEM (Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) as an art, rather he believes STEM enhances art.
"For me I stumbled into programming. I didn't really like it at first. People like to use the term STEM but I prefer STEAM. I like throwing art in there. There's a lot of creativity in STEM even if you're not interested in science, engineering or math. You can express yourself a lot more than I thought through STEM just as with traditional art mediums.” While STEM may be very practical through health and engineering, it can be just as valuable with art and even daily operations. On Guam today, schools and media rely heavily on computers to be productive.
While organizations just recently are promoting STEM to girls, Code Fountain’s Sky Resendez found her passion for technology through her family. "I actually started in STEM because my stepdad was a network administrator at the court back in the day," said Resendez. "I've always been around computers and Internet. Then during high school, at GW, GCC had a satellite program for electronics and Intro to Computer Networking. It was that high school program that pushed me into the STEM field and I just continued from there."
Resendez is proud of the outcome of Code Fountain’s first event and the great turnout for Hacktober. "We're looking forward to collaborate with all the people we've met here, especially all the experienced people so we can bridge the gap of what's taught at GCC and UOG, and see what's needed in the career field,” said Resendez. "The Code Fountain Institution is what we started to host these events. We're looking forward to at least host Hacktoberfest annually and other workshops and hopefully face some challenges, maybe even a capture the flag tournament for hackers. Now that we’ve met some people that we’re on the same page with, we hope to achieve something cool with all our heads put together.”
Though it may be far-fetched for Guam’s tech industry to be as robust as Silicon Valley, Code Fountain Institution seeks to inspire islanders to be curious and to challenge themselves with STEM.