Physics major Betsy Cannon ‘11 attends Hacker School

March 1, 2013 at 3:08 pm

Betsy Cannon ‘11, a physics major who now works as a programmer for, describes her path into programming as a “winding journey”. After she graduated, Cannon spent her first year as an environmental community organizer for the Lutheran Volunteer Corps. Last Spring, she heard about Hacker School, a three-month full time school for programming in New York, which calls itself “a writer’s retreat for hackers”. Cannon was one of the first to get a grant from etsy to attend the school this past summer. You can read more about her experience at the Hacker School on

Carleton was an important place for her to explore what she wanted to do. “Although the path wasn't clear from the outset, Carleton was key providing me with opportunities at each step as my interests developed”, Cannon says. “Even when I was little, I enjoyed math and recognizing patterns. I find it beautiful how a short equation can describe a complex phenomenon. I also care about improving the world and working to solve both local and global issues. Physics, programming, and engineering allow me to contribute to the world by applying my love of math.”

Her diverse interests lead her in many directions, but one of her most memorable experiences was as a volunteer tutor for the middle school robotics team.“Coaching the Northfield Middle School's robotics team during my senior year was a great opportunity to explore my interests in programming and engineering. Since much of my job was to get the students excited about the project, I had to think about why I liked problem solving and how to share my own enthusiasm. When the students had fun, I had fun, too!” She says.

For those students at Carleton who are interested in fields like engineering in programing, she advises using outside of class time to build on skills and ideas. “I find building your own project outside of class to be highly rewarding. By designing your own project, you'll discover what you're most drawn to. If you like to code, become involved in an opensource project. If you enjoy tinkering, volunteer with SUITS at Northfield High School and help the students build model electric cars. If you're drawn to community scale engineering projects, join EWB. Whatever your interests, find a way to use them now and see where they lead you.”

betsy cannon