Our latest Big Nerd of the Month is a driving force: he not only leads a team as they build iOS apps for clients, he’s also co-author of iOS Programming: The Big Nerd Ranch Guide and makes sure our Beginning iOS boot camp remains top notch.
June’s Big Nerd of the Month is Christian Keur!
Big Nerd Ranch: Congratulations on being awarded Big Nerd of the Month, Christian. You came to Big Nerd Ranch from the Apple Store. How did working there prepare you for your role at Big Nerd Ranch?
Christian Keur: Working at the Apple Store was a fantastic experience. First and foremost, I met some wonderful people while working there who led me to Big Nerd Ranch (thanks, Mikey!). In fact, numerous Big Nerd Ranch employees have worked at Apple before coming to Big Nerd Ranch.
In addition to the relationships, working in arguably the busiest retail environment in the world definitely teaches you a lot. I helped out quite a bit at the Genius Bar, managing and solving people’s technical issues. To do this well, you have to manage expectations, communicate technical concepts clearly and understandably, and resolve conflict. All of these skills come in handy when working with clients on app development or teaching students around the globe.
The best phrase I picked up from the Apple Store is, “I don’t know. Let’s find out together.” Admitting when you don’t know an answer goes a long way in gaining someone’s trust, and working together to figure out the answer teaches that person how to solve problems. Knowing how to do this is invaluable for an instructor.
BNR: That’s a great method of learning together! You started at Big Nerd Ranch in 2010. How has your role changed since then, and what are you looking forward to taking on in the future?
CK: Oh gosh. When I started working at Big Nerd Ranch, we had about 15 employees. We now have somewhere around 115. As you can imagine, a lot has changed in that time. I started out as just a developer, but started teaching after about three months with the company. Since then, I’ve taken ownership of our iOS book and Beginning iOS bootcamp, and have also become a team manager.
Moving forward, I’m really excited about making the course even more awesome. I’d also like to start speaking more at conferences on Big Nerd Ranch’s behalf, but I haven’t had much time recently to start going down that path.
BNR: We’re looking forward to seeing what the future holds. How will Swift impact the Beginning iOS bootcamp?
CK: I guess the most direct answer is, “Well, the class will be taught in a new programming language.” But in all honesty, Swift itself won’t change the course too much. Whether you are working with Objective-C or Swift, you’ll still be building apps the same way, using the same frameworks. The knowledge people have gathered from our book or course is still just as relevant with Swift as it has been in the past.
BNR: And what about iOS 8? During this year’s WWDC, you wrote about the impact iOS 8 will have on both users and developers. What are you most excited for with the advent of iOS 8?
CK: I’d have to say I’m excited about the new experiences that apps will inevitably provide. People are going to run wild with the new tools that Apple has provided, and do things that neither Apple nor I have ever thought about.
BNR: What advice would you give to someone who wants to become a developer?
Read my book. I’m kidding—sort of. I think my best advice is to find something you are really passionate about. Being excited about what you’ll do for thousands of hours a year is so important.
BNR: In addition to your passion for iOS development and teaching, you have an interest in the stars. What makes them so compelling?
Have you seen the photos that the Hubble Space Telescope has produced? How could you not be captivated by that?
The stars remind me of the beauty of the universe. You know, we are all made of stardust. All of the elements greater than hydrogen are created in stars, and all elements above iron are produced only in the beautifully violent explosions of supernovae.
The stars are also representative of the human pursuit of knowledge. In Greek antiquity, the stars were thought to be holes in heavenly sphere. Now we know so much about them: what they’re made of, what their life cycles are like, how they affect space-time around them. Even though we have so much to learn, it is always amazing to me how much we know.
Ultimately, I guess it’s because I’m a big science nerd, and the cosmos have so much to offer. (Have you seen the new Cosmos reboot with Neil DeGrasse Tyson, by the way? You should!)
BNR: A Big Nerd, and a big science Nerd (sorry, we had to). Thanks for chatting with us, Christian! Congratulations again on your win.
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