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A second chance for a newbie programmer

July 28, 2021
Alexander Nelson
Class of 2021
Computer code on a black background

As a previous participant in SUPER in 2020, I am ecstatic to have been selected to take part once more, and to be able to continue working on the Stanford Solutions Project under Professor Mark Jacobson for another Summer session. Last Summer, I had helped to design and create a geo-infographic website representing the Jacobson group’s "roadmaps to 100% renewable energy" for cities worldwide.

The infographic map that I had envisioned called for writing a great deal of code and webpage design, none of which was familiar to me at the time.  At first, I had opted to try tackling the whole project from scratch on my own but failed miserably. After encouraging discussion with Professor Jacobson and my tremendous grad-student mentor, Anna-Katharina Von Krauland, we decided to build a team to help bring the vision to fruition. I proceeded to procure help from more experienced web designers at Stanford, as well as programmers. I then spent the rest of that Summer serving as web project manager (rather than a coder), in order to see the infographic project finished in good time. We succeeded, and we ended up presenting a working product that was even included in the group’s subsequent publication.

This time around, I have been given another shot to redeem myself as a programmer and have taken on the responsibility of implementing and coding a new set of infographic maps to present the newly generated data. The Jacobson group has produced new roadmaps to 100% renewable energy for 143 countries worldwide, as well as all 50 US States, and I am currently working to create a different format for the maps that will present the new data with a more visual and iconic approach than before, to better make an impact with a wider variety of stakeholders.

As a newbie programmer, I am proud to report that now, moving into the third week of SUPER, I have succeeded in tackling many of the technical aspects that eluded me last year.  It is such a wonderfully gratifying feeling.  I am truly grateful to be able to contribute again, and to finally learn how to do this sort of thing on my own.

An infographic showing the impacts of transitioning California to 100% clean, renewable energy