How to engage future generations of programmers with Java

As every JavaOne conference makes clear, Java is going to be around long after the current crop of attendees has been rendered obsolete. That means Oracle has a vested interest in getting youngsters involved in the fascinating field of programming before they even graduate from high school. In the spirit of supporting youthful developers, Oracle offers education through its online academy and in-person workshops all over the world. The academy teaches Java foundations, fundamentals, and programming, and offers entry-level certifications. There’s even JavaOne4Kids with a focus on cool stuff like robotics.

In his keynote, Sharat Chander, Director of Java Product Management & Developer Relations, was pleased to reveal that Oracle is getting even more involved in providing Java learning resources. “To complement the investment we’re making in Oracle Academy, I’m happy to announce a new initiative that we’re starting, Go.Java. It will be a place where the next generation can get inspired, get started, and understand that it’s not an end, it’s a continuing journey. Every day there’s something new to learn. It’s our responsibility to put that learning in their hands.” For today’s programmers who are already well-versed in Java, the organization is also launching the Oracle Developer Gateway, a new portal that ties all the developer initiatives together under one umbrella to promote cross-pollination of ideas.

Moving Java forward with art

There were more surprises in store for programmers, including a collaborative sculpture project. As Sharat mentioned, “One unique aspect of what we’re bringing today is an art experience.” German artist Mirja Wellmann was commissioned to create one of her renowned HearingNest pieces out of the attendees’ designs. In her words, “As a sculpture, I work with a theme of hearing. I try to transform noises, what we hear, into visual forms.”

Her spacy ‘hearing helmets’ were available in the Java Hub for developers to experience firsthand what it means to be alone with one’s own sounds. “In these hearing helmets, there is no sound. You just hear yourself louder and outside sounds less.” Through this partial sensory deprivation, self-perception is augmented. Participants were asked to draw on their devices what they discovered by going within—using the sense of hearing.

Programming has traditionally been viewed as the domain of the left-brained. But the truth is that there is an elegance in technology that translates into forms that everyone can appreciate. The HearingNest Art Experience encouraged conference attendees to tap into their right-brained side. Chander invited developers to get the Gluon app, draw on their device, upload it to the cloud, download a QR code, and see a CNC machine cut out their design. It was a great way to blend cloud, mobile, and some Raspberry Pi in a stunning visual display.

What will next year’s JavaOne conference hold?

Attendees can expect the organizers to keep on bringing new experiences to the table with the latest technology gadgets to keep engaging the next generation. Perhaps streaming 3D virtual reality will be the theme and conference goers will participate in live coding sessions from the comfort of individual homeostasis pods. Or, maybe there will be a JavaOne Go game that has programmers bumping into one another in an effort to capture the latest, most powerful version of Duke, the Java mascot. Whatever lies in store, it will be an event that developers won’t want to miss.

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