Just two words, ‘low code.’ Are you listening? Microsoft’s Cook Newman tells El Camino College Students

El Camino College President Brenda Thames, Ph.D. discusses the school’s digital technology focus. Photos by Kevin Cody

by Kevin Cody

Microsoft Global Cloud marketing director Heather Cook Newman had two words of advice for El Camino College students during her State of El Camino College Address at the school on November 4, titled  “Digital Transformation.” 

“Low code,” the former University of Washington Drama School graduate said. The advice was an undisguised nod to the advice Mr. McGuire (Walter Brookes) gives Ben (Dustin Hoffman) in the 1967 film, “The Graduate:” “I want to say just one word to you. Are you listening? Plastics.”

Low Code, Newman explained, is software development for people who do not know how to code.

El Camino Public Informations Director Kerri Webb welcomes guests to the college’s 75th anniversary State of the College luncheon.

“A hand drawn sketch can be scanned into a computer and converted into an app. You don’t need to know about ones and zeros. Anyone can be a citizen developer,” Newman said.

“Repetitive business operations that require three or more steps should have an application,” she said. She estimated that half of all digital work can be converted to an app.

The primary goal of what she called “the low code revolution” is increased efficiency. But there is a secondary benefit.

“Opportunities to learn are the number one driver of work culture,” Newman said.

“Low coding makes employees feel better. It instills confidence. A happy employee is a more productive employee, which makes for a better world,” Newman said.

“There is no room for fear-based management,” she added. The majority of employees surveyed by Microsoft say their fellow employees, and not the job, are what motivates them to return to work, rather than work remotely.

For employees who continue to work remotely, Newman advised creating an avatar, or 3D digital image of oneself.

Avatars allow individuals to maintain a presence in Microsoft Team and Zoom meetings, while not being seen eating, or walking away. Avatars are also useful for people adverse to appearing in video conference meetings. And, she added, avatars are fun.

Microsoft Global Cloud marketing director Heather Cook Newman explains the “low code revolution.”


Up to 50 percent of business employees will work in the metaverse, creating a demand for 750 million new applications in the next five years, Newman said.

Newman’s comments were followed by El Camino College president Brenda Thames, who noted that the college is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year.

The highlight of the anniversary year, she said, was the return of graduation ceremonies to Murdock Stadium.

Thames followed up on Newman’s address by underscoring the college’s emphasis on digital technology, including the new Library Makers Space, with 3D printers, Wacom drawing tablets, and a podcasting studio; the Automation, Robotics and Manufacturing Center, cybersecurity certification, and an Esports Center for the schools Esports team.

“We are offering less talking at you, and more engagement with you,” Thames said.

Electrical engineering major Moises Santander recounts how he and two fellow El Camino engineering students won a NASA grant that enabled them to found TechTonic 3D, an innovative 3D printing company.


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