Let Harrison Ford be Your Spirit Animal

By Brian Gates, Front End Engineering TA

David Rogers, the front end engineering instructor here in Orlando, likes to tell his students not to be “Han Solo” – meaning, don’t try to get through the whole program working on your own. While I appreciate the message, I can’t approve of the phrasing. I don’t mind the terrible pun, that’s Lucas’ fault anyway, but I do think it’s unfair to Han Solo, who did end up coming back to save the day at the end of Star Wars. (um, spoiler alert.)
Still, Harrison Ford’s iconic movie roles have plenty of lessons for success in The IronYard (and life, really, but I’ll focus on TIY).

Read More

A programming career may be what you’re looking for …

There are all kinds of myths associated with becoming a programmer.

  • You have to be good at math.
  • You’ve been programming since you could walk.
  • You read nothing but science fiction. Probably know a little Klingon.
  • You hang out at Renaissance Fairs and belong to a guild of some sort. Some people look for Bigfoot, you look for dragons.

But like all assumptions, these are outdated stereotypes. Read More

Two Weeks In

We’re now two weeks into the Web Design course at The Iron Yard, and what a two weeks it has been. The students at the Greenville campus have learned about Content Strategy, Design Research, Design Principles and Foundations, and the Design Process. They’ve also spent quite a while designing in Photoshop and Illustrator. They’ve created paper prototypes and studied user experience. Here’s what some of the students have shared and some photos from our first two weeks:

Parker wrote:

I’m two weeks into The Iron Yard and so far I couldn’t be happier. Everything so far is familiar but I’m ready to dive in and learn, learn, learn. I’m finding out that you don’t need to hold the same as skills as a painter to come up with fantastic art in Illustrator, thank God.

image

If you told me six months ago I’d be spending my days learning design, code, eating pizza and drinking beer with awesome people, I’d have laughed at you. So far so good. Let’s see what I can do.

Lorenzo and Illustrator worked out their differences:

I used to be the slave of Illustrator. Last week I became its indentured servant. This week I am its grossly underpaid and starving free-lancer. But eventually the two of us will become friends. I don’t know how much time it will take; I just know that it will take some. That’s ok, because we only know time has passed once something is over.

But what we have all learned in the class already is that design is never over. You are always going to be running behind to what’s going on presently, yet ahead of what you struggled with just the week before. It’s not about time: it’s about effort. Because one can only be defeated if her or she gives up.

Brian on learning and support:

Wow, today marks 2 weeks (out of the 12 week program) of learning about graphic designs and a bit of the historical basis of the content. It has been challenging to say the least, but making it to this mark has reassured me that I can learn more in this lifetime; learning will always create strife for me. It is a good thing I have an awesome support team, of my wife and family, to lessen the pain and mental frustration of acquiring these new skills!

Michelle shared her process:

paper prototyping is fun .

It’s been really cool seeing these students work together and learn a lot. Here are some other candid moments from class, including an experiment in UX and presentation skills:

image

image

image

Education Programs Seek Answers: To Scale or Not To Scale?

Written by Matthew Keas (@matthiasak), Front End Engineering Instructor.

The Iron Yard Partner Eric Dodds (@ericdodds) brought to my attention the growing “openness” of education:

We talk a good bit about how education is changing. If you’re like me, your thinking probably tends to revolve around code education since that’s what we do when we go to work every day.

It’s interesting to look around and see what other schools are doing as well—there’s quite a bit of testing and experimentation happening that will influence what we know as traditional education.

Here are a few interesting things I ran across recently:

Harvard Business Core

Other schools are offering online certificate programs. The Harvard Business School recently began offering a Credential of Readiness (CORe). The three-course $1,500 program is designed for people who don’t have a business degree but want to learn “the language of business.” 

The idea of Harvard offering an online certificate program for $1500 is, in and of itself, a pretty crazy thing when you stop and think about their reputation, pedigree and cost historically. Also, “Business Core” is a pretty awesome/hilarious phrase.

http://hbx.hbs.edu/hbx-core/

 

Penn State World Campus
For example, through Penn State’s World Campus, you could earn a bachelor’s degree in economics (among 19 fields of study), a master’s degree in finance (among 38 possibilities), or a doctorate in nursing.

Taken in-person, that econ degree would set you back $670-$770 per credit hour if you are a Pennsylvania resident or $1,200-$1,300 if you live out of state. Taken online, the cost is about $500 per hour no matter where you live. 

The idea of in-state and out-of-state is beginning to matter less. Even more interesting is that it seems Penn State seems to view the online and on campus degrees as equal even though the qualitative experience is almost certainly disparate.

http://www.worldcampus.psu.edu/

What have you seen? 

What other types of programs have you seen that express educators’ attempts to adapt?

I am overwhelmed by the permeability of these online markets and courses. It’s fantastic to have so many options, at a range of prices. Competition really is great for the consumer.

Information (especially that which you may find in textbooks) is ebbing towards an open-courseware approach. But with sites like Coursera, Khan Academy, MIT and Stanford’s online courseware, and so forth, maybe educators aren’t really adapting. In fact, textbooks, PDFs, and the like have been available online, legally and freely, for quite some time.

Maybe it isn’t an educators attempt to adapt, but instead a realization that there is a greater market and more cultural openness to learn online that pushes us towards rethinking education. Because of the cultural shifts set in-motion, rigorous online education is more acceptable, but it isn’t without it’s own woes.

We live in a world of options. We can specialize, or generalize, to become valuable. Now, I’ve written about my thoughts on specialization and generalization before. We can learn something effectively (like coding, or a new language), in intense, short bursts of time, and then broaden ourselves to multiply the effect. If that is true already here at The Iron Yard, could we as a society not benefit from short, intense bursts of focus on a single subject in broader education? Online courses are primarily singular-subject, but making an online course worth my time would almost certainly mean timely and unfettered human-interaction – both with my peers and with my instructor(s).

Thus, for code education (as I’m sure with many other types) there is still a missing factor – the human side. Software and customer experience is getting better with sites like Codecademy and Treehouse, but I think back to this article http://nautil.us/issue/17/big-bangs/how-i-rewired-my-brain-to-become-fluent… and I feel like ‘fluency‘ still comes from a lot of in-depth feedback, curiosity, and discussion with an instructor, versus a computer program. Maybe when the IBM Watson API is released, educators can finally develop effective methods of communicating difficult analytical and intuition-based concepts through MOOCs and the like.

We don’t just need pretty courseware interfaces to learn, we need natural language engines that can empathize with a student. Online software currently doesn’t intuit, nor does it empathize, like a teacher can today.

Education Programs Seek Answers: To Scale or Not To Scale?

Written by Matthew Keas (@matthiasak), Front End Engineering Instructor.

The Iron Yard Partner Eric Dodds (@ericdodds) brought to my attention the growing “openness” of education:

We talk a good bit about how education is changing. If you’re like me, your thinking probably tends to revolve around code education since that’s what we do when we go to work every day.

It’s interesting to look around and see what other schools are doing as well—there’s quite a bit of testing and experimentation happening that will influence what we know as traditional education.

Here are a few interesting things I ran across recently:

Harvard Business Core

Other schools are offering online certificate programs. The Harvard Business School recently began offering a Credential of Readiness (CORe). The three-course $1,500 program is designed for people who don’t have a business degree but want to learn “the language of business.” 

The idea of Harvard offering an online certificate program for $1500 is, in and of itself, a pretty crazy thing when you stop and think about their reputation, pedigree and cost historically. Also, “Business Core” is a pretty awesome/hilarious phrase.

http://hbx.hbs.edu/hbx-core/

Penn State World Campus
For example, through Penn State’s World Campus, you could earn a bachelor’s degree in economics (among 19 fields of study), a master’s degree in finance (among 38 possibilities), or a doctorate in nursing.

Taken in-person, that econ degree would set you back $670-$770 per credit hour if you are a Pennsylvania resident or $1,200-$1,300 if you live out of state. Taken online, the cost is about $500 per hour no matter where you live. 

The idea of in-state and out-of-state is beginning to matter less. Even more interesting is that it seems Penn State seems to view the online and on campus degrees as equal even though the qualitative experience is almost certainly disparate.

http://www.worldcampus.psu.edu/

What have you seen? 

What other types of programs have you seen that express educators’ attempts to adapt?

I am overwhelmed by the permeability of these online markets and courses. It’s fantastic to have so many options, at a range of prices. Competition really is great for the consumer.

Information (especially that which you may find in textbooks) is ebbing towards an open-courseware approach. But with sites like Coursera, Khan Academy, MIT and Stanford’s online courseware, and so forth, maybe educators aren’t really adapting. In fact, textbooks, PDFs, and the like have been available online, legally and freely, for quite some time.

Maybe it isn’t an educators attempt to adapt, but instead a realization that there is a greater market and more cultural openness to learn online that pushes us towards rethinking education. Because of the cultural shifts set in-motion, rigorous online education is more acceptable, but it isn’t without it’s own woes.

We live in a world of options. We can specialize, or generalize, to become valuable. Now, I’ve written about my thoughts on specialization and generalization before. We can learn something effectively (like coding, or a new language), in intense, short bursts of time, and then broaden ourselves to multiply the effect. If that is true already here at The Iron Yard, could we as a society not benefit from short, intense bursts of focus on a single subject in broader education? Online courses are primarily singular-subject, but making an online course worth my time would almost certainly mean timely and unfettered human-interaction – both with my peers and with my instructor(s).

Thus, for code education (as I’m sure with many other types) there is still a missing factor – the human side. Software and customer experience is getting better with sites like Codecademy and Treehouse, but I think back to this article http://nautil.us/issue/17/big-bangs/how-i-rewired-my-brain-to-become-fluent… and I feel like ‘fluency‘ still comes from a lot of in-depth feedback, curiosity, and discussion with an instructor, versus a computer program. Maybe when the IBM Watson API is released, educators can finally develop effective methods of communicating difficult analytical and intuition-based concepts through MOOCs and the like. We don;t just need pretty courseware interfaces to learn, we need natural language engines that can empathize with a student. Online software currently doesn’t intuit, nor does it empathize, like a teacher can today.

Our Weekend with SolTech at #hackTIY

By Sarah Lodato, Campus Director

I love meeting developers that talk about their interest in giving back to the community, especially when it comes to education. The private education space for software engineering is evolving, and with our small, intimate class sizes, we’re making it easier for an engineer to share his or her story with budding software engineers. There’s incredible power in collaboration, and we couldn’t be more grateful for the development team at SolTech to come out this past weekend for The Iron Yard’s #hackTIY event, our internal hackathon.

Mentorship comes from the heart. You can tell a great mentor at first interaction, because it’s a visibly selfless act. Yes, you learn from teaching others your ways, but that volunteerism of wisdom is invaluable, and far surmounts the value you get from giving back. We ask a lot of our mentors for #hackTIY, because the potential for impact on our students is huge.

At The Iron Yard, there is no easy weekend to take off to dive into an “extracurricular” hacking event — especially when two of our classes are just two weeks from graduation, chin-deep in final application mode. Our Front End course was in an equally strenuous point, just two weeks into their 12-week program; swamped with an adjustment to the lifestyle, they were still equally as eager to take part in an opportunity for mentorship and challenge. Teams are formed with an iOS, Rails, and Front End engineer to foster cross-platform collaboration and robust application potential. We try to keep our internal community super tight, and encourage them to interact as much as possible, so this weekend was no different.

Our pitch partner was the SolTech team, and we couldn’t have been more impressed with their creative pitch ideas (they brought three pitches!) and their eagerness to dive in and sit alongside our engineers for three days straight. Coaching happened from a technical and personal standpoint, as tensions grow high after round-the-clock coding ensues. We don’t take the commitment our students take to be here lightly, and to see them dive into an optional weekend of hacking was huge.

It speaks wonders about a work environment when you see a developer functioning in a different setting. After spending a weekend with the SolTech folks, I jokingly told them I’d be carving out my own desk at their gorgeous Buckhead office. All jokes aside, I think everyone at The Iron Yard-Atlanta this weekend agreed that they’re stellar team of incredibly creative, motivated engineers/architects/techgenuises that poured themselves into helping out our engineers for the sake of education and mentorship. It’s clear they love what they do, and simply want to pass their passion along to others.

Earlier this year at The Iron Yard’s Grok conference, Kristian Andersen gave a talk on passion vs love: passion should be something you’re willing to suffer for. Those words have stuck with me ever since, as that’s the exact sentiment that rings true every time I talk to people about software engineering. This weekend, I saw an incredible amount of passion from both our dedicated students, and the mentors from SolTech. Suffering ensued certainly, but I was so humbled by the high spirits held throughout the weekend. I’m always impressed and inspired by such passionate, selfless acts of our engineers, and those passionate people that support us.

Iron Yarders mustered up the energy they had left to present at the end, and we polished off presentations with some fun superlatives (check out our Mobile Moguls below, they rocked out their mobile app for emergency notifications!).

Super proud of our team, and many many thanks to SolTech for volunteering their time and knowledge to The Iron Yard – Atlanta this weekend!

On Long-Term Employment and Programming

By Matthew Keas, Houston Front End Engineering Instructor

The Iron Yard’s Partner Eric Dodds was reflecting on the relationship between education and unemployment this past week.

The Harvard Business Review’s blog posted a thought-provoking article about how trends in hiring methods are making long term unemployment—for older, educated people — a big problem.

The entire article is fascinating, but one quote really stuck out: Read More