Westmoore High School junior and MNTC Programming and Software Development student Spencer Hendon.
by Mari Farthing, freelance writer/editor
Some students are dreamers, some are doers—and some, like Spencer Hendon, are both.
During a discussion about new ideas In Rachel Hurt’s Computer Programming class just before the winter break, a Radio Frequency Identification reader—RFID—was brought up as a way to track student attendance. Hendon just happened to be in the room when it happened. So, during the break, he got to work.
“I had the parts and home and I taught myself Python,” said Hendon, referring to the Raspberry Pi computer kit and Python programming language used in his RFID reader. Hendon, a junior at Westmoore High School, started attending classes at MNTC in the fall of 2016 and has been programming for several years on his own and at school. His innovative, portable RFID reader is about the size of a deck of cards.
Real-World in the Classroom
MNTC tries to prepare students for a business environment as much as possible while also training them in the industry-specific skills needed. “Our classes are made to be like industry as much as possible,” said Hurt. “An RFID reader is like clocking in at work.”
Hendon essentially made his device out of spare parts he had on hand, sourcing material pricing online with Hurt afterwards. “Software development is expensive,” said Hurt, and RFID card reader systems on the market can cost thousands of dollars to purchase. The device created by Hendon would cut that multi-thousand dollar price tag to under $100 per unit.
There’s no current plan in place to begin using the RFID reader in the classroom, but it would be a great way to use the in-house knowledge to meet a need. “This device could be so useful for our instructors.”
“We’re always looking for projects that combine different classes,” said Hurt, who envisions future collaboration with other classes to bring the project to fruition, helping to develop interfaces, applications and more. “Just like in industry, nobody is working in a bubble with just others in their own field.”
What’s next for Hendon? Ultimately, he’d like to stay in computers and work at Google. Sounds like a good career path for a dreamer and a doer.
MNTC's Programming and Software Development program is open to high school juniors and seniors and adult students. To learn more visit here.