Meet the Education Team at Hackbright

Hackbright Academy Meggie Mahnken

Meggie Mahnken
Vice President of Education

Meggie Mahnken is the Vice President of Education at Hackbright Academy. A Hackbright alumna, Meggie became an internal tools software engineer after graduation, eventually returning to Hackbright as an instructor. She is now responsible for hiring and training the education staff, overseeing curriculum development, and serves on Hackbright’s Leadership Team.

How did you learn about Hackbright? What drew you to Hackbright?

A friend at the time worked nearby, and recommended software engineering to me as a career he thought I would enjoy. He was right! I was drawn to Hackbright because it was a supportive and accommodating space for women.

What’s your favorite Hackbright memory?

My favorite Hackbright memory is giving a lecture on jQuery early on in my teaching career here. jQuery was something that was really hard for me to learn, so I was so excited to be able to help others not get stuck on the things I got stuck on.

What’s your top advice for new students?

Stay focused. Pick one language and master the basics. Remember to code every single day – muscle memory is key.

What’s your favorite teaching moment?

My favorite teaching moment is when students are in the advanced phases of their final projects, and they think of a feature that they’d like to build and bring it to fruition completely independently. When new software engineers realize that literally anything is possible, it’s an incredibly inspiring and meaningful moment of empowerment.

What do you love most about coding?

I love that it’s such a relevant creative skill. I also love debugging – the language and tone of error messages is fascinating. It’s also incredibly satisfying to build things. It’s addicting.

What else should we know about you?

I started doing ballet as an adult about four years ago. I’ve come a long way and learned a ton. There are a lot of parallels between learning to code and learning ballet. For me, going to ballet class is a consistent reminder of what it feels like to be a student, and how to be an excellent teacher. I have a few really amazing ballet teachers who are a great inspiration.

Hackbright Academy Program Director Ashley Trinh

Ashley Trinh
Director | Hackbright Software Engineering Program

A Hackbright alumna, Ashley studied Interdisciplinary Computing in the arts and Music at UCSD where she focused on user experience research and design.

What drew you to Hackbright?

When I was planning to attend bootcamp, I applied to several and had a handful to choose from, so it came down to culture and values. To be honest, I decided to base my decision on how many times the word “community” appeared on each bootcamp’s landing page. That’s how I chose Hackbright.

What’s your favorite Hackbright memory?

When I was going through the Software Engineering Program, I kept thinking about different ways to explain programming concepts to my cohort-mates. That’s when I found out that I love teaching. I’m really thankful for that moment; Hackbright helped me realize two passions (programming AND teaching)!

What’s your top advice for new students?

Figure out your learning style. I know, I know… it’s a really big question and it’s not that easy to answer. A good way to start is to think about how you tend to engage with a topic or activity that you’re passionate about and translate that into a learning strategy. Reach out to your instructors if you need help! That’s what we’re here for.

What’s your favorite moment as a teacher?

I like hearing how students teach one another. Peer education and knowledge sharing is awesome!

What do you love most about coding?

Computers do exactly what you tell them to do. Even if you think you have no idea what the computer is doing, it’s still doing exactly what you told it to.

Any fun facts you want to share?

I really like fine art. Especially modern and contemporary art! My favorite artists are Jenny Holzer, Barbara Kruger, and Cindy Sherman.

Anything else you want to share??

Ask me about my terminal color schemes.

Hackbright Academy Instructor Allian Roman

Allian Roman
Lab Instructor | San Francisco Part-Time Software Engineering Program

Allian graduated from Cal Poly with a BS in Mechanical Engineering. After graduating Hackbright in March 2016 she went on to develop manufacturing web applications at GE Digital. She re-joined Hackbright as a Prep TA, and now teaches for the Part-Time Program.

What drew you to Hackbright?

My first exposure to a bootcamp was a Dev Bootcamp YouTube ad back in 2015. The ad piqued my interest, and I started researching bootcamps. As soon as I learned about Hackbright and attended an Info Session, I knew I wanted to do the program. I came from a male-dominated industry (mechanical engineering) where in class/work I was sometimes the only woman in a group. I wanted to be at Hackbright to surround myself with talented women that could be my friends/role-models. Best experience ever.

What’s your favorite Hackbright moment?

As a TA in the Prep Class, I was so elated the day the students presented their final projects to their friends, family, classmates. They challenged themselves, had fun in the process, and learned so much. The demos were awesome, and I could tell they were proud of their work.

What’s your top advice for new students?

I remind students that engineering is about two fundamental things: being curious about how things work, and loving to solve problems. The fact that a person has made it into the Prep Class or Part- or Full-Time Program means they’re already an engineer. The rest is merely learning the tools that will help them solve problems efficiently. Don’t doubt yourself – you’re already an engineer.

What’s your favorite teaching moment?

I love debugging, and I love helping students learn to debug their own code. I try to impart the feeling that’s it a game and we’re following the clues left behind by the computer to find the source of the error. That moment when we find the bug, and get working code, the tension breaks and there’s a huge sigh of relief and triumph. I love that!

What do you love most about coding?

It’s a language that we use to control machines – how cool is that?! There are so many amazing applications and it’s fun/challenging/rewarding to learn different programming languages and tools.

Anything else you want to share?

I am not the archetypal engineer. I didn’t grow up building robots, no one in my family is an engineer. I simply liked math, science, physics, and wanted to learn more about how things work. I was lucky that I was able to pursue engineering in college and had the support of my family. I know there are marginalized people out there who are curious about software engineering and they need a little boost of confidence and reassurance to dive in and start pursuing it. I am on a mission to empower those people to be unapologetically technical and become software engineers, no matter what their background is. That’s why I love and work at Hackbright. I’m all in.

Hackbright Academy Instructor Dave Galbraith

Dave Galbraith
Instructor | San Francisco Part-Time Software Engineering Program

Dave has been programming for startups in San Francisco since graduating from UC Berkeley in 2014. He’s constantly looking to learn new things and loves to help others.

How did you learn about Hackbright?

I heard about the mentorship program through a colleague and saw a good chance to give something back. I was blown away by the energy and caliber of Hackbright students and decided to get more involved.

What’s your favorite Hackbright memory?

When my first student graduated and got a software engineering job, it felt really satisfying.

What’s your top advice for new students?

Hang in there! Try not to get too mad at the computer when it doesn’t do what you want, it only wants to help.

What’s your favorite moment as a teacher?

I love seeing all the cool projects that my students come up with and create.

Hackbright Academy Instructor Seema Ullal

Seema Ullal
Instructor | San Francisco Prep Program

Seema starting mentoring at Hackbright when she moved to San Francisco. Two of her joys lie in teaching and programming, which she combines in teaching the Prep Program. She’s passionate about improving diversity in technology.

How did you learn about Hackbright?

I first got involved with Hackbright as a mentor. I was especially drawn to the mission of changing the ratio of diversity in engineering and technology.

What’s your favorite Hackbright memory?

Seeing student demos is always incredibly rewarding and inspiring and I am constantly impressed.

What’s your top advice for new students?

Don’t doubt yourself– you got this!

What’s your favorite moment as a teacher?

Explaining concepts to students and seeing it finally make sense to them is always amazing and my favorite teaching moment.

What do you love most about programming?

Solving problems that can improve people’s lives.

Hackbright Academy Instructor Andrew Blum

Andrew Blum
Instructor |San Francisco Part-Time Software Engineering Program

Andrew is a Senior Full Stack Engineer at Sarment

How did you learn about Hackbright?

I’ve known a couple of Hackbright graduates and was impressed by how amazing they were.

What’s your top advice for new students?

Explore and break things.

What’s your favorite snack between lecture and lab?


What’s your favorite moment as a teacher?

Introducing the support staff.