Humans of Harker: Chaotic coding

Andrew Fox uses computer programming to serve the world


Brandon Zau

“Cybersecurity is going to be one of the most important things. I have one opportunity to make the world a better place. If I jump on that, I would have succeeded,” Andrew Fox (’23) said.

Andrew Fox (’23) discovers the greatest reward in projects he creates for his classmates. When taking AP Computer Science A and Data Structures, Andrew felt that Javatown, a program that helped students learn how to program, lacked an easy-to-use user interface. He challenged himself to create something faster, cleaner and neater, which eventually led to his creation of JavaCity. Completing JavaCity gave Andrew an appreciation for the smaller moments that allow him to connect with those around him.

“I help a lot of people in my computer science classes because I’ve been doing it my whole life, so it comes naturally to me,” Andrew said. “I’ve always been willing to help anyone who asks [about] computer science because I have a different understanding that perhaps they aren’t getting from teachers.”

Upper school Computer Science Department Chair Dr. Eric Nelson credits Andrew’s helpful nature as the characteristic that led him to improve his class Expert Systems’s curriculum. Andrew was able to recognize a deficiency in the language used in the computer science course. He then wrote an extension for Visual Studio Code, a source code editor, called JESS, but Less of a Mess, to recognize the language and its constructs and also include helpful popups to aid students.

“It ended up benefiting everybody, both semesters, because it was a time saver,” Nelson said. “It was a really nice and generous thing to do. Andrew also made it generally available for everyone to use, which was also a wonderful gesture.”

From a young age, Andrew knew computers and programming through only his parents and science fiction novels, but enrolling into a formal programming class in middle school cemented his love for the subject. Now, Andrew enjoys getting lost while developing various coding projects, even when it means reaching “code hell,” a term describing the point when his code reaches no return because of errors. Despite this, Andrew finds the countless projects that don’t end up working serve to remind him of how gratifying a working result can be.

“It’s always fun to see things work,” Andrew said. “That moment when you’re ready to show other people what you’ve done after weeks of suffering is what I find really memorable and nice.”

Close friend John Cracraft (’23) admires Andrew’s goal-oriented mindset. He recognizes Andrew’s responsibility that allows him to achieve success with the goals he envisions for himself. 

“Andrew sets a goal for himself, and he doesn’t falter on that goal he keeps,” John said. “He’s very tenacious about reaching whatever goal that is, however small or larger. He’s set on certain goals in his future, like what exactly he wants to do with his life, and I find [it] very commendable that he’s thought about all that already in his planning ahead.”

Outside of his confident personality, Andrew enjoys spending time with his friends, whether he is offering help to them with school or getting food and hanging out at each other’s houses. After meeting Andrew in a Dungeons and Dragons club, close friend Tanay Sharma (’23) recognized Andrew’s unfaltering personality that makes him unique.

“He’s not afraid to be himself,” Tanay said. “He is into lots of things. Even if his hobbies aren’t what most people think to be socially acceptable, he’s fine with being who he is no matter what others might say.”

Throughout high school, Andrew learned and recognized the importance and power that failure has. Living a “no pain, no gain” mentality allowed Andrew to mature and grow stronger after any setback, like a retired coding project. In the future, Andrew hopes to be at the forefront of cyber security, securing devices from intrusion, as the world becomes more digitized and more technology-dependent.

“The world is coming to an interesting collision of sci-fi and reality where, in our lifetime, we are going to see all these huge issues,” Andrew said. “Cybersecurity is going to be one of the most important things. I have one opportunity to make the world a better place. If I jump on that, I would have succeeded.”