We had the good fortune of connecting with Fred Aebli (aka Mr. Fred) and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Fred, we’d love for you to start things off by telling us something about your industry that we and others not in the industry might be unaware of?
I have been a teacher at the college level for over 22 years. During that time I have taught kids coding camps during the summer. Prior to that I had a career as a software developer and I am a former Marine officer. Along the way, I noticed a decline in the number of people interested in coding and technology. When you say or use the word “coding” it sometimes raises this spectre of a “mathematical wizard”. True, math can play a role in parts of computer science. However, coding is a broad area as it weaves in new tools that require different skills that everyone possesses. These new tools are opening new doors for all sorts of careers.

I like to lower the bar for entry instead of putting up the bar so high that only a handful can overcome. It is an interesting challenge as we move forward. Part of overcoming the challenge is letting everyone know that anyone can learn to code.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Becoming a college instructor wasn’t planned. In fact, if you told me as the college freshman, I would be standing up in front of a college classroom teaching, I would have laughed at you. My goal was to be an astronaut and in the 1980’s to do that you needed to be a member of the U.S. military. So with my eyes set on being an astronaut after being inspired by the Star Wars trilogy of movies and toys, I looked into becoming a military pilot. On one summer evening while visiting a friend of my Mom’s, I met this other woman’s son who was a U.S. Marine fighter pilot. He sparked my curiosity in becoming a Marine Officer and so it began. I chose Penn State University where I studied Computer Science/Math, being an average student and applied for the Marine Corps Platoon Leaders Class (PLC) Program where you spent two six-weeks in the summer at Officer Candidate School in Quantico, Virginia. Once I completed my degree I accepted my commission as a 2ndLt in the U.S. Marines and began my pursuit of eventually applying to the NASA Astronaut Program. Along the way, I developed leadership skills and continued to sharpen my problem solving ability and also applied but got denied for the astronaut program. Although, it looked like a setback it reminded me I needed to further my education which I did. While on active duty I pursued my master degree and became more familiar with this emerging technology called the Internet. I arrived at the point of my military career where I wanted to enter the technology labor force. This was the early days of the internet so I wanted to leap from the Marines and work in some form of technology company. That is exactly what I did. Taking a position with a large telecommunication provider, Bell Atlantic, in Baltimore, MD, I developed new skills and an understanding of the telecomm industry. While there I received a call from an old high school friend who was doing software development using Oracle database technology in Pennsylvania asking me if I would be interested in a position. I took it and led a team doing early web development as we migrated the software application to their corporate intranet. It was a blast. We were learning alot and laying the foundation for what is pretty common today. After several years, I decided to pay my old computer science professor a visit and say “thank you” to him. When we met, he offered me an adjunct teaching position. I asked “teaching what?”. He replied, “advanced Microsoft PowerPoint”. I laughed and said, “I didn’t know there was an advanced powerpoint!”. After teaching adults in the evening after work for a spring semester, I was quickly bitten by the teaching bug. He let me know they were seeking a full time professor to teach and help create a new program for the next generation of technology solution creators and thought I should apply due to my experiences. I did and I have been there ever since. That meeting was 22 years ago.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I love this question. I was born and raised in the city of Scranton, PA. Many have come to know it as the home of “The Office” television series. I know it as home. I have travelled all around the world and I am fortunate to have been able to return to my home where I raised my family in a nearby town. But any time I get to direct friends to local sites, I get excited. The day would start off by visit a location that represents the heritage of this region, the Lackawanna County Coal Mining tour where you descend in a coal mining car about 300 feet in a former working coal mine. While down there you get insight from your guide as to what that world was like. I am a descendent of Polish and Swiss immigrants and this region is steeped in European heritage. From there we would drive to downtown Scranton and visit one of the most well-known spots, Coney Island where you enjoy a classic Texas weiner cooked right in front of you, enjoy some fries with gravy, and a cold soda (usually a root beer for me). After lunch we can go and visit the Steamtown National History rail museum and buy a trolly ticket where you ride a restored trolly to Montage Mountain where the New York Yankees minor league baseball team plays. You can catch a ball game or get a ride to the top of the mountain where you will find the Montage Ski Resort. Depending on the year we can rent some sleds or skis and ski or visit the water park it becomes in the summer and ride the massive zip line. But the best part is the VIEW from the resort. You can see the entire valley! After we are done, we would take a ride to Nay Aug Park located in Scranton where we can follow a short walking trail that overlooks a series of water falls. If you continue on the trail you will find yourself in a massive handicapped accessible treefort that gives all sorts of great views. As evening set in, no visit to our area would be complete with going for pizza in Old Forge. Considered the “pizza capital of the world” Old Forge offers a variety of styles of pizza. There are at least 5 different pizza parlors within 25 yards of each other all with a different style of cut, cheese, sauce and atomosphere. The double crust white pizza is amazing and I think one or two slices won’t hurt you!

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My credit for creating GetMeCoding.com goes to my Mom, Rosalie. I lost her in 2019 due to COVID where we said good-bye to her through a window at her nursing home. My Mom along with her 11 brothers and sisters raised me after losing my Dad in the summer of 1977. Being a very sharp woman, she saw how I was inspired by the movie Star Wars, enjoyed tinkering with technology, and loved to build just about anything. As a high school educated data entry supervisor, she also understood computers were going to play an important role in our world. Every birthday, Christmas, and gift giving holiday she would put some form of computer or book in front of me to explore. Her approach to keeping me motivated and on track worked. She was always there for me with advice and a reminder that I can do anything I put my mind to even when the classes got harder and I faced other life challenges. Although the later years of her life saw dementia set in, I always caught glimpses of her wit and a smile that reminded me I will be “ok”. I miss her but I know she still keeps an eye on me.

Website: https://www.getmecoding.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/getmecoding

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/fred-aebli-8b04a06/

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/GetMeCoding

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GetMeCdoing

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/getmecoding

Image Credits
Image of me with headset (Parent Pod Podcast – WNEP 16)

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