Meet Our Mentors – Jonathan Griffin

Jonathan is a Master’s student at Stanford University studying Electrical Engineering, then is planning go on to a PhD in Computer Science. His passion for computer graphics led him to Unity 3D through his coursework and personal projects. Jonathan works one-on-one with two of the most advanced Breakout Mentors students in Unity after years of experience building their programming fundamentals.

What is your favorite game or project you have created with a student?

One of my students is working on a game that has the user control a cannon and uses it to hit targets that appear on the screen. The game is designed in Unity and uses its Physics Engine to make a realistic interaction between the cannons and the targets.

Why is it important for kids to start coding when young?

There are many applications of programming, so it can be applied to various fields that children may be interested in. Therefore, it’s a good way of developing a child’s curiosity in coding and other areas. Since computer science is growing rapidly in almost all fields, kids will likely need to know the basics of coding in whatever occupation they end up in.

When did you start to code?

I started coding my sophomore year in college. I took the introductory computer science series at Stanford and really enjoyed the theory and practical applications of it.

What do you find rewarding about teaching kids how to code?

It’s really nice seeing kids understand concepts that I teach. Whenever an idea just ‘clicks’, it feels really nice because you know how everything works and can move forward. I like seeing that happen with the kids I teach.

What advice do you have for kids learning how to code?

Find some application of coding that you’re interested in. It makes the process of learning how to code significantly more enjoyable and, in addition, you get to create some cool stuff that’s directly related to what you want to do.