An interview with Tanmay Bakshi at the IBM Garage

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The IBM Bluemix Garage is a magical place for many reasons, but one thing that stuck out to me during my recent visits to the Garages across the world was the breadth of experience present in each Garage. Every Bluemix Garage brings together individuals whose unique experiences provide invaluable insight to the solutions that we help create. Many of these individuals have impressive backgrounds and years of experience, but one person is worth highlighting for his impressive background despite the relatively fewer years of experience.

Over the past few weeks, Tanmay Bakshi has been in residence at our Toronto Garage. Tanmay is just 12 years old and has already achieved several accomplishments worth highlighting. A Watson programmer, Tanmay was a keynote speaker at IBM InterConnect this year, where he discussed his experience using IBM Bluemix and the Watson APIs. But that was not his first time sharing his knowledge with the greater developer community, as this technical wunderkind hosts his own Tanmay Teaches channel on YouTube.

Tanmay was kind enough to answer some questions about his time in the Toronto Garage where he is balancing learning about the Bluemix Garage Method, sitting in on client sessions, and developing on Bluemix using the Watson Internet of Things API. Below is an abridged summary of our chat.

—Shawn Murray, Worldwide Director, IBM Bluemix Garage

What was your reaction to visiting the Toronto Bluemix Garage?

Fabulous, it was a great experience, the teams working there, the work environment, particularly the interaction with the customer side of the development has been great. Thanks a lot to John Marini for allowing me to visit the Bluemix Garage and have firsthand experience with it!

What do you hope to gain from your time in the Bluemix Garage?

I have a few ideas that I am going to put forward, merged with the ideas and guidance of John, I am sure I will be able to learn and create something very useful in the Garage and will share it with everyone, once I’m ready!

I understand programmers, of all ages, reach out to you for guidance. What piece of advice do you find yourself giving out most often, technical or otherwise?

First of all (this is not just for programmers, but for everyone), you MUST have perseverance, don’t give up! Do whatever it takes, because every problem has a solution! In programing, “Don’t let the bugs ‘bug’ you!”

Then, I think, as programmers, we should keep our code clean and clear. What does this mean? Well, clean means that the code is understandable and structured, for others, and yourself, to be able to understand it nicely! Also, clear would mean that the code should be thoroughly tested and have no known bugs and glitches, and you should try to steer clear of unsafe-code, make sure you assume as few things as possible, and deal with crashes or exceptions in as many places as you can.

One more thing: There’s never an end to learning, because technology is evolving every minute. Don’t be scared of change!

You have spoken in front of very large crowds, sharing your point of view and perspective. What is your reaction to the great interest in your work and accomplishments? You always appear so relaxed. Are you ever nervous?

ic2016-closing-tanmay My reaction to where this journey has taken me so far, is that I am extremely thankful to everyone, my family, my mentors, and IBM, just to name a few. They have given me their time and feedback, positive and negative. This has instilled confidence in me and an urge to keep learning, and to share my knowledge with everyone alike!

Well, this is a different type of question: Since I know what I am going to present, and I have gone through the pain and joy of creating it, it makes presenting my work much easier. Most of the time I am, in fact, eager to present, and share my knowledge, and always learn from other people. I’m lucky to have my audience’s support and encouragement, which has never made me feel nervous.

Coder, speaker, author, video producer, honorary IBM Cloud Advisor — that is an amazing list and you are just getting started! What can we expect to see from you next?

Honestly, more importantly, you must have the willingness to learn and give back. Of course, make sure you enjoy doing what you’re doing. Other than that, I have not taken any courses to be any of the designations you have mentioned. I am simply sharing what I have been learning with my knowledge and understanding added to it.

What is your favorite movie? What is your favorite type of music?

Well, I don’t spend much time watching movies (traveling to different parts of the world in a plane with no internet may change that though), but I enjoy the Home Alone series, specially Home Alone 3.

In terms of music, I like happy music –- just like that “Happy” song by Pharrell Williams.

If I can speak on the behalf of the Toronto Garage and the rest of the Garages, we are most excited to have Tanmay experience Design Thinking, pair programming, and other elements of the Bluemix Garage Method during his time with us, which will give him a true flavor of the best the Bluemix Garage has to offer. If you are in Toronto, consider stopping by for a visit and see who you get to chat with –- it might just be Tanmay.

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