Outstanding Graduate, Spring 2022
As early as the fifth grade, Joseph Hale knew he wanted to work with computers. By middle school, he decided that writing software would be his career.
“I recognized that computers are powerful force multipliers for every industry, and I wanted to learn how to harness and direct that power myself,” says Hale, an honors student in ASU’s Barrett, The Honors College who is now graduating from the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University.
However, his journey to study software engineering in college wasn’t easy. When he struggled with math, his eighth-grade algebra teacher, Coach John Blosser, was there to help via the unorthodox approach of handing Hale the 223-page manual to a TI-83 calculator so he could learn how to program quadratic equations and make the math easier.
“Writing that first calculator program gave me the confidence and the skills to help other struggling students to better understand the quadratic formula for themselves,” says Hale, who flourished with Coach Blosser’s support and has used his teacher’s approach to learning difficult topics ever since.
At ASU, Hale has helped his fellow students as a peer mentor and honors writing tutor. He helped the wider software engineering community by mentoring new developers in beginner programming projects and posting guides and tools on his GitHub profile.
Hale also earned a certificate in Spanish translation, which had surprising parallels to engineering.
“It is crucial for a translator to intimately understand not only the grammar and vocabulary of each language but also the culture and history of the communicating parties,” Hale says. “Interestingly, that expertise is also required of software engineers because we are translators between everyday people and the machines we’ve created to automate many aspects of our lives.”
His efforts at ASU have earned him a President’s Scholarship, Pell Grants and the BYU Management Society Scholarship.
Hale is continuing his studies at ASU as part of the 4+1 accelerated master’s degree program while his wife, Laura Pang, finishes her degree in astrophysics. Then he plans to start work as a software engineer, likely with local legal startup Anva.
In the long term, Hale wants to be an expert in many technical areas and use his skills and passion for teaching to educate others wherever he goes — be it in a classroom, an executive meeting or even on public transportation.
“Just as my eighth-grade algebra teacher used an old calculator to unlock my potential as a software engineer, I want to leverage technology to be a consequential teacher,” Hale says. “I want my associates, colleagues and friends to feel like I empower them to reach their full potential.”