From The Iron Yard to the White House: An #IronGrad presents Opportunity Project app

Last week, we shared the news that our very own #IronGrad Patrick Cooke had the honor of attending the Opportunity Project event at The White House.

Since its inception earlier this year, the Opportunity Project has yielded dozens of new digital tools that help meet community needs like finding affordable housing near jobs and transportation, advocating for broader access to opportunity in neighborhoods, and making data-driven investments to increase economic mobility. Many of The Iron Yard’s students have done just that and used the data to create civic-minded apps that benefit the communities where they live.

Iron Grad Patrick Cooke sharing his app, InformedCity, with U.S. CTO Megan Smith
Iron Grad Patrick Cooke sharing his app, InformedCity, with U.S. CTO Megan Smith

At Thursday’s event, Patrick had the opportunity to demo his app InformedCity, which plots the location of police departments, crime data and housing values for the last year, alongside other amazing projects. To name a few, these included Split’s “Zip Code Commuter Map,” which displays the volume of commuter flows between zipcodes and highlights locations that lack access to transit using Census data; Ushahidi’s “Job Postings,” which uses Department of Labor data with crowd-sourced job postings so that when organizations share job postings, job seekers receive email and SMS alerts for opportunities in their area; and Fitbit’s tool which helps policymakers understand the relationship between average activity and widespread health challenges in every state. Needless to say, we were in good company!

To top off the whole experience, during the science-fair style demos, Patrick was able to show off his app to U.S. Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith.

“I would have never expected that an app I created in class would lead to an invitation to the White House,” Patrick said. “It is an unbelievable honor to have been part of the Opportunity Project White House Demos event. While I felt a little out of my league, surrounded by companies like MapBox, Loveland and Fitbit, the whole experience showed me that good tools, ideas and apps can come from anyone and anywhere. This trip to the White House assures me that attending The Iron Yard was the right choice, and I’m looking forward to what other opportunities my career in software development will bring.”

Pat’s mobile engineering instructor Tom Crawford was also able to attend, and had this to say about the experience: “Nothing is more gratifying to a teacher than seeing a student succeed. I was excited for Pat when he received the invitation to the White House, but I was very proud to watch him demonstrate his app for Megan Smith, the CTO of the United States!”


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