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From Archaeology to Code: How did I get here?

Alison Hight, Feb, 9 2016 | 1 min read


I consider myself an archaeologist. Every summer for the last four years I’ve gone to work at a series of archeological sites around the Mediterranean (Samothrace, GR; Selinunte, IT; Thebes, GR; Vjose River Valley, AL). During that time I’ve been a graduate student in the Art History department at Emory University focusing on ancient Greek architecture.

So how did I end up in a coding class?

Over the course of my studies, I gravitated towards the technological side of archaeology; 3D modelling, new advancements in documenting trenches and finds, GIS technology (geographic information systems - using in mapping sites and surrounding areas). I learned a number of softwares and techniques including AutoCAD, photogrammetry, ArcGIS, and others. By last year, I was working on how my archaeological sites could benefit from bringing these technologies together in new ways to better document our unexcavated areas, and get more useful data out of our existing finds.

All of this was great! I was realizing I loved learning new technology, I had picked up a whole series of random skills, I had starting working part-time at Emory’s Center for Digital Scholarship doing other cool “techy” projects (drone pilot!)… but it was taking me away from my true raison d’etre at Emory, becoming an Architectural Historian. This was one of the reasons I took a leave of absence to pursue a potential future in technology.

At this point, most of my thoughts were, “AHHHHHH!!! WHAT HAVE I DONE???” I knew I needed to get serious about my technology skills, and thus had to learn to code. I opted to go to an in-person bootcamp to get that hands-on learning experience (web classes like Codecademy or Lynda are great, but have a tendency to teach you only the content of that lesson, not the ‘why’ around the code. I wanted the ‘why’ around the code). TTS fit all my needs - the price was right, the hours were reasonable (though I’m still not wild about waking up for class at 8am, tbh), I’d have time in the evening to do my freelance 3d modelling work, and best of all the career opportunities through the school seemed AMAZING. Companies come to you! You get to go on field trips to view facilities and meet the staff! Mandy (the Best) will reach out to whoever you want to meet! I was sold fairly quickly.

Now it’s halfway through the full-time course and I’m loving it. I’ve made friends and professional contacts, and I’m starting to feel like I know what I’m doing (that’s a big deal for me). I’ve started making my own personal website and portfolio, and am redesigning the website for my father’s business. So the real question now is, am I an archaeologist? Or am I a developer?

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