Where Are They Now? Nathanael Olander: Future Computer Scientist

Oct 30, 2017 | Posted by the IEW Blog Team



Nathanael Olander grew up an “IEW kid.” His mom, Danielle Olander, is an IEW homeschool exhibitor. Together the two of them authored Rockets, Radar, & Robotics*, a technology-themed writing curriculum. The idea for it germinated as young Nathanael was helping her at a homeschool convention and commented that IEW should offer more books that would interest boys in the theme-based section. He suggested doing a course on either military history or technology, subjects he found personally appealing. Danielle agreed, and together they collaborated on topics. He spent much of his thirteenth summer preparing key word outlines and writing source texts. Danielle served as his editor and wrote the lessons.

Since that time, Nathanael has grown up and is now attending college, but he still loves technology! Enjoy learning more about Nathanael and his experiences as he describes what he’s currently doing.


Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan. We lived near downtown until I was nine, when we moved out to Lowell, MI. I was homeschooled all the way through high school, and my family was involved in various different homeschool co-ops throughout. I spent one year in the Kent Career Technical Center (KCTC) Aviation Electronics course and got certified as an AET (Aircraft Electronics Technician), so I had some experience with the public school system through that. I have four siblings: one brother and three sisters, who are all younger than me.

Over the past two and a half years, I've started playing Ultimate Frisbee with the Grand Rapids White Lightning, a 19-and-under club team currently ranked second in the state of Michigan. Since arriving at college this fall, I’ve started playing on the Cedarville Swarm, our college team. I would love to some day make the team USA U-24 team, but that's highly unlikely due to the small size of the school I'm attending, so playing for an elite level club team is my more achievable goal.

I've been tinkering with computers and electronics for as long as I can remember and have programmed as a hobby since I was eight. I hope to some day work for Tesla or SpaceX, writing software for the Tesla cars or SpaceX's products.


When did you begin writing with IEW?

My mom is an IEW convention representative and an online instructor, so I can’t remember a time when we didn’t do IEW. Mostly she used IEW across all of our subjects, so it blended in with whatever we studied. I do remember working through the Student Writing Intensive as well as Speech Bootcamp and Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization.


Have you noticed that IEW has helped you in college?

Well, this is my first year, and so far I've only had one major essay due, but using specifically the key word outline has come in handy for planning that essay, the various small paragraphs I have had to write, and for planning out the outlines for speeches in my communications class.


What type of writing do you most enjoy?

As a computer science major, I enjoy writing about technical topics. Doing the research on a new technology or scientific discovery and then taking that information and condensing it into a smaller, more easily understood format similar to YouTube channels like CGP Grey, Veritasium, or Vsauce is fun for me.


Do you see any connection from your IEW training to your ability to communicate beyond writing?

Definitely. IEW taught me to think more analytically and to condense my thoughts into well-worded phrases and sentences. It comes in handy when I’m explaining things that interest me to someone who knows nothing about them, and more recently in my communications class in writing and delivering speeches.


Do you have any plans for the future where writing and communicating will be needed? If so, how?

I keep hearing that one of the biggest skills employers are looking for is a strong ability to communicate. Unfortunately, computer scientists have developed somewhat of a stereotype of not communicating particularly well with people outside of their industry. I definitely want to break that stereotype, and effective communication skills are a key part of that.


What one piece of advice would you give your younger self?

Make good use of your time. Entertainment, especially stuff like YouTube, is always going to be there. Time and relationships won't be, especially if you wall yourself off by only doing work and never interacting with the people in your life. It's not entirely bad to do that; just make sure you balance it out well.


Nathanael understands that communication skills are needed in all career pursuits, and he’s well-prepared for his future job in computer science. His passion for technology and his mom’s experience in teaching IEW writing have been a great combination. Rockets, Radar, & Robotics is proof positive. Generally written for a middle school audience, it’s sure to delight any technophile. If you have a “techie” in your home, check it out!



Live Chat with IEW