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News | March 1, 2024

What does it take to be a Supra Coder?

By Maj. Erin Leon

The U.S. Space Force launched its Supra Coder program in 2021 to capitalize on internal digital talent and better enable Guardians to create innovative software that would enhance warfighting capabilities.

While most Guardians who apply for the program already have a basic level of programming skills, this is not a prerequisite, and did not deter Tech. Sgt. Anthony Caldemone, Missile Warning Center Systems Integration non-commissioned officer in charge.

“I had never coded before applying,” said Caldemone. “I took a practice course and had a moment where you write code and get it to work, and it’s like a eureka moment. It’s oddly satisfying.”

That practice test sparked a desire to learn in Caldemone that led him to embark on the six-month Software Development Immersive program required for Guardians to receive the Z-prefix that identifies them as Supra Coders who manage, develop and design software solutions supporting the USSF.

 “The first three months is basic coding,” said Caldemone. “Then the second half of the course is an internship, which I did with Space Camp.”

During this time, Caldemone worked from home using his personal laptop in order to access software that is not compatible with government computers.

“One of the challenges is there’s so much to learn,” said Caldemone. “And there are endless possibilities for how you can apply what you’ve learned.”

Some examples of applications Supra Coders have helped to create include the Department of the Air Forces myEval system and the Guardian One mobile app, which Chief of Space Operations Gen. Chance Saltzman spoke highly of during September’s Air Force Association symposium in Washington D.C.

“After initial estimates of costs were predictably high and timelines predictably lengthy, we turned to our Supra Coders to see if they could organically create something useful,” said Saltzman. “They blew my socks off…Developed by Guardians for Guardians, it is an online connection resource for our Guardians with essential tools and the latest news, updates, and announcements.”

In Caldemone’s workplace at the Missile Warning Center, he is working to update a system known as DARTS, data analysis reporting and tracking system.

“DARTS consolidates several programs into one easy to navigate system,” said Caldemone. “I’ve been working on this with a software team of 8-10 folks that is working with the users to get input on whether something is working or not. Once ready, the system will help ops floors across the space force and possibly other services as well.”

By consolidating programs and updating systems, Caldemone is helping the entire team meet mission requirements.

“Supra Coder capabilities enable the creation of mission tailored operation’s products with the organic ability to rapidly adapt to changing requirements,” said Army Maj. Jonathan Graves, Systems Integration chief. “The intent for the utilization currently within the MWC is to reduce reliance on legacy data entry and display processes, expanding our crew’s ability as we face increasing op-tempo and missile proliferation around the world.”

Caldemone expressed that it has been challenging to both work on software development while still fulfilling duties as a shift worker and supervisor, but he hasn’t let that deter him, and encourage others who are interested to apply even if they don’t have a coding background.

“Being a Supra Coder takes someone with good attention to detail and a drive to learn something extremely challenging,” said Caldemone. “It’s a firehose of information. Everyday you are learning something new and trying to apply it and retain everything.”

If you think you have what it takes to become a Supra Coder, visit supracoders.us for information on the program and how to apply.