Education Team

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Meggie Mahnken
Sr. Director of Education

Meggie Mahnken is the Senior Director of Education at Hackbright Academy. A Hackbright alumna, Meggie became an internal tools software engineer after graduation, eventually returning to Hackbrigh 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 due to the all-women’s space.

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.

 

Henry Chen
Instructor | Oakland Full-Time Software Engineering Program

After receiving his PhD in Physics from Harvard, Henry joined and co-founded a startup. After working as a data scientist and software engineer, he began mentoring at Hackbright. He became a full-time instructor for Hackbright, and now leads our Oakland campus.

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

I was a volunteer mentor. I support the mission of economic empowerment.

What’s your top advice for new students?

Learn the fundamentals well. Don’t try to keep up with the latest technology.

What’s your favorite moment as a teacher?

Seeing students rapidly become software engineers and get jobs in the industry.

What do you love most about coding?

Code expresses ideas. It’s a form of literature.

 

Rachel Traina-Grandon
Lab Instructor | San Francisco Full-Time Software Engineering Program

A Hackbright alumna, Rachel taught Prep for a year while working as a software engineer before joining the team to teach full-time.

How did you find Hackbright? What drew you to it?

I attended Hackbright in 2016 after working as a Product Manager and UX Designer. I was drawn to the all-women environment, which I found extremely empowering and encouraging while transitioning into a career in software engineering.

What’s your favorite Hackbright memory?

I have loved every Hackbright Social; they are perfect opportunities to bond over – and relish in – everyone’s weekly struggles and accomplishments.

What’s your top advice for new students?

Be more patient with yourself than you have ever been; being a great software engineer mostly comes down to patience and grit.

What’s your favorite moment as a teacher?

I live for ah-ha moments!

What do you love most about coding?

In programming, there is freedom in figuring out that you cannot know everything. In other fields, mastery is achievable and absolute, but in programming, mastery is iterative and relative. You will always be a better programmer than you were three months ago since you learn something new each day.

Any fun facts about yourself?

I studied Political Philosophy and Music.

 

ashley trinh

Ashley Trinh
Instructor | Oakland Full-Time 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.

heather mahan

Heather Mahan
Instructor | South Bay Full-Time Software Engineering Program

A Bay Area native and Hackbright alumna, Heather’s background is in technical writing and linguistics. She’s passionate about making tech accessible to all, because she believes tech is the future, and everyone deserves the opportunity to shape it.

What drew you to Hackbright?

I’m passionate about making tech education accessible to underserved communities.

What’s your top advice for new students?

Courage and determination are your superpowers. Activate them to succeed!

What’s your favorite moment as a teacher?

I love introducing students to JavaScript in the browser!

What do you love most about coding?

Creating beautiful, playful experiences at the intersection of art and code.

 

Romain Komorn
Romain Komorn
Lab Instructor | South Bay Full-Time Software Engineering Program

Romain worked in operations-oriented roles for over a decade, most recently for six years as a Production Engineer and Manager at Facebook. He also received a certificate of Professional Culinary Arts from the San Francisco Cooking School in February 2017.

How did you learn about Hackbright?

My partner (the ever-awesome Chung) graduated from Hackbright in December 2016. Watching her go through Hackbright, learn to code, then find a job as a software engineer made me want to be part of Hackbright.

What’s your favorite Hackbright memory?

Chung accepting her first job offer as a Hackbright graduate.

What’s your top advice for new students?

Learning to debug is one of the most important things. Work on it early on.

What’s your favorite moment as a teacher?

The first time students complete a feature for their project. It’s always exciting.

What do you love most about coding?

It only does what you tell it to do. (That’s also my least favorite thing about coding.)

Any fun facts you want to share?

I totally love lettuce. And yes, my name sounds like romaine.

Anything else you want to share?

#ChangeTheRatio is why I’m here. I wouldn’t be teaching at any other bootcamp.

 

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 women 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 women 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.

 

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.

 

David Lindes
Instructor | San Francisco Prep Program

Some 25 years ago, David was fortunate to have a wonderful and talented woman as a mentor. And then another at his next job. However, over the course of his career, he was disappointed to find himself in an increasing number of all-male work environments. He’s thrilled to pay it forward for his former mentors as well as to help #changetheratio.

How did you learn about Hackbright?

Word of mouth – a friend took the Full-Time Program, and a co-worker mentored for it. Having heard from both those perspectives, I was hooked! The rest is history.

What’s your favorite Hackbright memory?

Oh, I don’t know… lots I could choose from. One thing that was fun, though, was bringing a home-made cheesecake in to the graduation ceremony for the first cohort I was a mentor for. They’d used “cheesecake” as a go-to variable name (any time they needed a variable name, and something else wasn’t obvious, it would be cheesecake). They seemed to like it. 🙂

What’s your top advice for new students?

Don’t be afraid to just try things! It’s OK if stuff “breaks” in this environment – see what you can learn from it!

What’s your favorite moment as a teacher?

Every time I hear someone excited about doing well at something I recently saw them struggling with… It’s more than just one moment, but that’s my favorite category of teaching moment. Every time I see it happen, I’m filled with joy.

What do you love most about coding?

That moment of realizing I’ve just created something that I’m proud of – especially if it means I’m now freed of some busy-work that I used to have to do before I wrote the code. 🙂

Any fun facts you want to share?

I taught myself to ride a bicycle when I was 3. I taught a friend to ride a skateboard for our (joint) 4th birthday. I guess I’m just a fan of learning and teaching, and always have been. 🙂

Anything else you want to share?

I feel immensely honored to be able to play some small role in helping all the amazing women I see going through the Hackbright program. Thank you, all!

 

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 women 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.

karin hawley

Karin Hawley
Instructor | San Francisco Part-Time Software Engineering Program

A Software Engineer at Honor, Karin first joined Hackbright as a mentor.

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?

Be patient with yourselves. You’re learning a lot of new things. You’re going to stumble. Allow yourself to get it wrong and don’t be afraid to ask for help!

What’s your favorite moment as a teacher?

Watching a student who has been struggling to understand a concept, have that “Lightbulb moment” when everything suddenly clicks and makes sense.

Any fun facts you want to share?

I’m a serial hobbyist. At any given time, you might find me: reading a handful of novels, knitting something fun, watching a new TV series/movie, hacking on a coding project, hacking on a hardware project, cooking a new recipe… etc.

I’m also a classically trained vocalist.

What do you love most about coding?

The flexibility. Anything you can dream up, you can code. It might take time, and effort, but it can be done.