Cola’s state of coding 👨‍💻 👩‍💻

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Last summer, Greenville-based coding school The Iron Yard (TIY) announced they were closing their 15 campuses across the country – including Columbia’s, located inside SOCO BullStreet. The company was founded just 4 years earlier, and in 2015, received a $15.9M investment (for 62% of the co.) from Apollo Education Group. Its bootcamps led thousands of people to careers in development; serving as an alternative to traditional Computer Science degrees.

TIY isn’t alone in closing. Dev Bootcamp, another pioneer coding school, also announced their closing last July.

Is coding on the decline? Oh, the contrary. 👩‍💻

Last year, coding bootcamps were slated to graduate almost 23,000 students and see upwards of 50% growth. According to Peter Barth, founder of TIY, many of their S.C. students were getting job offers right after graduation. And graduates of Flatiron Schools (NYC-based coding school) had a 97% job placement. The average salary for web developers in S.C. is $69,860.

Why did those schools close? Various reasons like being owned by larger corporations that scaled quickly; some financial struggles; pricey overhead + tuition ($12-25K/12-week course).

So, what does the coding landscape of Columbia look like now? 👨‍💻

TIY was the first and only immersive coding school for adults when it came to Columbia ~4 years ago (other than programs for enrollees at local colleges, which are still quite little different).

Since they shut down, many previous teachers + students of TIY are now offering their own code bootcamps across S.C. And space has been made for the development of more grassroots programs.

CC Code is a new code school being launched in 2018 by locals Giovanni DeFeterici, TIY’s former UI Design Instructor + Director of Curriculum Design, and Heather Dughaish, former Campus Director of TIY Columbia + Charleston. They want to bring back the immersive code bootcamp – but with a more local feel, dictated by what the community wants, and at a more approachable + affordable level so people can get their foot in the door more easily (and so Columbia can create + keep more talent). Think: multiple sessions with different entry levels vs. one 12-week camp, and a price point hopefully much lower than $12,000.

On the university level, UofSC, Columbia College, Benedict, Allen + more local colleges all have degrees in Computer Science or Information Technology; and Midlands Tech has classes you can take for programming, but these courses generally take longer to gain the same amount of knowledge + experience than a 12-week, immersive coding school. Classes are usually held just a few hours per week, and it often takes a couple of years to get new curriculum passed; whereas code schools can make changes to curriculum quickly to keep up with industry standards. CC Code aims to work with local higher-ed on complimentary education.

What about the kids? 👩‍💻

IT-oLogy does a lot for grades K-12 – like Cyber Saturdays ($25) and Cyber Summer Camps ft. programming + coding classes; Tech League competitions and teacher training. They also host workshops for those who are interested in a career in IT but may not know how or where to begin (high school students, career changers, adults, etc.).

EngenuitySC hosts code bootcamps for high school students at Ridge View + Westwood High Schools (Richland Two) through their Carolina Alliance for Technology (CAT) program, which gives students hands-on learning + career exploration in a number of fields. CC Code works with the program to offer 20-hour apprenticeships in programming.

Webgyrlz Code, founded by web developer Shambi Broome, offers one-day coding camps for girls ages 8+ ($129) and five-week scratch programming courses for girls around age 10 (prices range). They also work with EngenuitySC to offer camps to co-ed or all-girls classes in Richland One + Two schools; free to the students. Broome tries to connect the act of coding to how it applies to real life, like inventing the next app and making profit, to help kids understand why the field is important + interesting. After receiving some requests, she’s looking into starting a bootcamp for adult women.

(Currently inactive, 100 Girls of Code Columbia was a similar program to Webgyrlz Code in trying to reach + engage young girls to foster interest in computer science and programming.)

Have an interest in coding? 👨‍💻

On top of the mentioned classes + programs, Cola has several technical meetup groups:

Clojure Co-Lab

Columbia Cloud Developers

Columbia Developers

Columbia Front-End Meetup

Columbia Python Users Group

Columbia Women in Tech

Google Developers Group Columbia (GDG)

Open Hack Columbia

Open Source South Carolina

OutSystems Carolinas Meetup

UX Columbia

WISE Columbia

CC Code is currently in talks with local government + major employers about community needs, collaboration + support for creating a feeder pipeline of programmers in Columbia. Most of all, they want to create programs and curriculum around what Columbia wants –

So, do you want to learn to code? Do you have a basis of knowledge that you want to build upon? Do you see the need for a different entry point to tech field jobs? What would your ideal program be (how many weeks, for how many hours)? What are you willing to pay?

Let us know. We’ll pass along the answers – and maybe you’ll have some influence on creating Columbia’s next coding school.


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