Karl McPhee -- Technopreneur Program

Karl McPhee As a software developer 1 at Uber Eats, now living in New York City, Karl McPhee focuses on backend development and machine learning–sophisticated skills he learned as a Mesa Community College student and intern.

“At the time I started taking courses at MCC, I was enrolled in Arizona State University’s Master of Science program and had experience with programming in Java and Python,” said Karl. “I was drawn to the interesting course content and focus on modern technologies and programming languages like Swift.” MCC’s courses were the first practical experience he had with mobile development and database integration, as well as with working as part of a Sprint team.

Also influential in his career success was his MCC internship experience on a capstone project focusing on the mobile app development of ReachOutAZ, an app designed to help troubled teens. The Mesa Chamber of Commerce/MPS reached out because of a high need to support the student population in Arizona. Their desire was to connect students with mental health and support services. Karl developed the base edition of the Android version.

During early planning collaborations discussing goals and features for ReachOutAZ, interns and faculty discussed design and ways to make it useful for elementary and high school students as well as other design concerns. “This helped put into perspective for me just how complicated the process of app design is and how much planning and architectural design is involved,” he added.

Karl credits the MCC internship experience with helping him secure interviews at several high profile companies, including Meta, Google, Uber and Apple. “The interviewers I spoke with wanted to hear about real-world application development, particularly for businesses, as well as group collaborative efforts. Many of the skills that the ReachOutAZ project centered on, like Git and integration with cloud services, are also currently in high demand by businesses right now and were brought up in many of my interviews.”

Three faculty members in particular made a significant impact on Karl’s education: David Levy, a former lead iOS developer and Computer Information Systems faculty Deb LaVergne, Ed.D. and Michael Bogner, who invested much time and effort into making courses on modern application design ideal for both new and returning programmers.“Prof. Bogner coordinated and organized efforts over months, helping students find particular areas they were interested in working on and coordinating efforts between our Sprint team and the businesses and schools we worked with,” he continued. “I’m grateful for their work in making coding more accessible for all the new engineers out there.”

From his experience Karl has this advice to potential Thunderbirds: Two important things that the software industry is currently looking for among entry-level developers – degrees and experience in developing applications. The first shows commitment and success in learning programming design concepts and the second shows impact and helps you stand out. MCC’s app design program was one of the best opportunities I could have had for getting that experience in moving from coding small projects to full application design.”