School of Code’s First Cohort Graduate As Developers

West Midland’s First Coding Bootcamp Almost Complete
January 8, 2018
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Birmingham based coding Bootcamp finishes after 16 weeks of learning to code from scratch.

Birmingham, UK — Friday 19th January 2018 — After 300 applications for the School of Code Bootcamp over last summer, 19 people began their journeys into tech in September 2017. Since then, under the teaching of School of Code founder Dr. Chris Meah, they have learnt full-stack JavaScript development, as well as industry best-practices such as pair programming and agile project management. The cohort have attended hackathons, ran beginner’s coding meetups, and generally got stuck into life in the tech industry. On Wednesday 17th January, Innovation Birmingham’s iCentrum — which has been the home to the first School of Code Bootcamp — saw 100 people come to watch the cohort officially graduate and demonstrate their final projects.

During the final month of the course, the Bootcamp split into teams to build a final project from scratch to present to the tech community and potential employers on Demo Day. These 4 weeks of teamwork produced a range of fully-functional websites, mobile apps and games, and as if that wasn’t stressful enough, they then had to run live demos and explain their work to an audience of 100 people. The event kicked off with Dr. Chris Meah outlining the reasons behind the Bootcamp and what it is trying to achieve: to give more people from a wide variety of backgrounds opportunities to benefit from technology. With the demographic of the Bootcamp almost perfectly reflecting the demographic of Birmingham as a city, he highlighted how they had taken as many barriers as possible away from the course. Thanks to sponsors such as Packt, the Bootcamp was free for the students, and required no previous experience. As a result the first cohort has been incredibly diverse, with the students ranging in ages from 18-45 with very different skill sets and backgrounds.

“This is an experiment to test if we can take different types of people, from different backgrounds, and bring them together in a short, intensive course to become well-rounded, creative, collaborative coders – and I think from what we’ve seen today that experiment was incredibly successful”
Dr. Chris Meah

In his keynote speech, the CEO of Packt Dave Maclean set the scene of Birmingham as a place that has always, to put it simply, “built stuff”. Urging the employers in the room to support this regional initiative, Dave said:

“School of Code are building a new model…as employers, you have a role to play, you need to take these people who have a range of different talents and aptitudes with an incredible ethic of teamwork, collaboration and communication, and find a role for them in your organisations.”

CEO of Stemettes Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE came up from London to speak at the Bootcamp Demo Day, addressing inclusivity in tech and the lessons she had learnt through her organisation. Stemettes is an initiative helping women and girls into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) careers, and reinforcing that they can belong in these fields: “We teach girls about how we need a diversity of people to solve the world’s problems with STEM knowledge”, a philosophy reinforced by the diversity of the School of Code Bootcamp.

These speeches set the stage for the Bootcamp team presentations. First up was team Stagger, made up by Ben Rosell and Sharon Kaur. In our modern world where individuals and businesses are expected to have a presence on social media, it can be hard to remember to update your platforms as often as you should. In order to tackle this, the team created a social media scheduling platform using IBM Watson API to utilise intelligent tagging and an auto-GIF feature based on keywords in the post. They did a live demo of the responsive site before talking the audience through how they went about it.

The second team consisted of Clare Streets, Chris Miller, Sina Dorostkar and Hamza Ibrahim, who together had build Map My CV. They set out to combat youth unemployment by reimagining the traditional CV, creating a website whereby young people could input their skills and link it to evidence online, ultimately creating a CV that was digital, content based and searchable for an employer.

After a refreshments break the team Risky Quizness picked up the energy levels with their interactive quiz. Ashleigh Danks, Nazia Chowdhury and Nick Sully had built an online competitive retro quiz game with a space theme, where the user can win planets representing a different category of knowledge until they had conquered the solar system. Placing the two sides of the audience in a general knowledge round against each other, they demonstrated how you can play with your friends no matter where they are in the world.

The fourth team had taken on the project of redesigning the School of Code Website. Matthew England, Victoria Bate, Lily Wales and Scott Nicholson had shown off their front-end dev skills by creating a bold, colourful geometric space theme using CSS and svgs. The website had to encapsulate all 3 areas of the School of Code: their work with schools, their Bootcamp programme and their tech consultancy model. They walked the audience through the website under different user personas, and explained their use of CSS animations to create a better user experience.

The team to close the afternoon of presentations was Movies With Mates, consisting of Peter Yu, Leigh White, Morgan Hirsch and Jennifer Yashi. MWM is a mobile app to tackle social exclusion by connecting movie goers at local cinemas in Birmingham. By logging in with Facebook authentication, you can browse cinemas in your area, see people wanting to go to the same film as you and make a plan to go together through the in-app chat feature. This is not a dating app! They emphasised their desire for this to be a friendly way to connect people over a shared interest: mates, not dates.

The event concluded with the chance for potential employers to meet the Bootcampers, get to know them and ask questions about their projects. The hiring process begins now – if you are a business looking to grow your tech team, there is a group of driven and enthusiastic Bootcamp graduates ready for their first roles in the industry. Contact bootcamp@schoolofcode.co.uk to find out more.

Watch the official Bootcamp video…

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