Tag: MakerSquare

Hack Reactor Buys MakerSquare in Austin

imgres-7Hack Reactor, a computer programming bootcamp, announced this week it has bought MakerSquare, a two-year old coding school with campuses in Austin and San Francisco.

Hack Reactor, based in San Francisco, did not release the terms of the deal. It’s the two-year-old company’s first acquisition. Hack Reactor plans to continue to operate MakerSquare independently and those campuses will adopt Hack Reactor’s JavaScript programming curriculum.

“Coding bootcamps were estimated at $59 million total gross revenue for 2014 and that number will continue to rise,” Hack Reactor CEO Anthony Phillips said in a news release. “We’re collecting the best minds in the accelerated learning sector, and we’re proud to have MakerSquare on our team. MakerSquare and Hack Reactor are both leaders in terms of student outcomes, quality teaching and strength of alumni network. We share a vision for the future of education, software engineering and empowering students.”

MakerSquare also has a Dev House in Austin that provides shared housing for out of town students participating in its three month long program.

“The current higher education system does not sufficiently empower and serve people,” said MakerSquare CEO Harsh Patel. “This is a fact on a national and global level. I am confident that by joining Hack Reactor, together, we can make a large dent in transforming the old education system into one that focuses on student outcomes.”

MakerSquare Debuts After-School Program

Reporter with Silicon Hills News

3Y9A4425On a sunny Saturday, 12 children and young teens convened in MakerSquare’s classrooms for a little weekend coding. “What do we think these are?” teacher Drew Robinson asked a room full of kids seated before laptops. “Opening and closing HTML tags,” an elementary school boy speedily replied. Turns out, a kid’s ability to soak up languages extends to computer languages too.

The Saturday event was a free workshop and part of MakerSquare’s outreach effort for Hatch After School, a weekly web development and computational thinking program for K-12 students. The program costs $159 per month.

Barely a year old, MakerSquare started offering its web development boot camp last summer. Today, the school has two tracks for adults: A 10-week, part-time web development course that costs $3,380 and a 12-week full-time course that teaches the fundamentals of software engineering for $13,880. Demand is high, students come from all over the country and world. Co-founder Muhammad Meigooni says so far they’ve graduated 130 students, and they have a 96 percent job placement rate within three months of graduation. Now they also have youth program Hatch. The basics of that course are very similar to how adult students start to learn.

“They’re learning as quickly as adults,” Meigooni said of the first batch of Hatch students.

3Y9A4391Hatch After School is loosely designed in eight-week blocks, units can be shortened or lengthened based on the group of students. For the first eight weeks, students become familiar with HTML and CSS and the basics of computational thinking. In phase two, they’re introduced to Java and basic game design, and in the final phase they work on advanced web development or build an actual game using Java. The whole schedule might take six months to a year, and for advanced students who complete the phases and want to continue learning, MakerSquare will pair them with a mentor in the community who can continue to help.

Learning to code can be a daunting prospect, which is why MakerSquare’s program keeps it simple in the beginning. To start out, kids use “drag and drop” tools to place blocks of code to build web pages. From there they move on to pattern recognition and learning the vocabulary of which HTML tags do what, then after that they begin to write their own code.

Presently, most Hatch students are middle schoolers, but the program can accommodate students as young as second or third grade. The entry barrier is essentially typing ability: If kids don’t have solid typing skills, the level of frustration becomes too high.

Hatch After School isn’t all about screen time. Teachers Meigooni and Robinson like to break it up with real-life exercises too. One exercise they have kids do is divide up into pairs, one student is given a group of triangular and square-shaped puzzle pieces, and one student is given a diagram for how to arrange them (into the shape of a spaceship, for instance). The students sit back to back and the kid with the diagram has to instruct the other on how to put the pieces together without showing his partner the diagram. This lesson in computational thinking shows kids how very specific instructions have to be in order for a computer to produce a desired outcome.

Drew Robinson started out as a MakerSquare student in February. Previously, she was a high school teacher in Tulsa. Originally she taught history, but when the AP computer science teacher retired, she was tapped for the job due to her tech-savvy reputation and given just a summer to teach herself Java. Without formal training though, she couldn’t be as effective as she wanted in the classroom.

“If I kept going, I would’ve burned out,” she said.

3Y9A4407Robinson left her teaching job and picked MakerSquare to continue her coding education, partly because she was attracted to the school’s outreach programs. She immediately started volunteering with the school’s CoderGirls program for Girl Scouts of Central Texas. In the beginning of April, MakerSquare asked her to come on full-time with the Hatch program as director of k-12 curriculum.

The school is also working on putting together a space equipped with logic puzzles and iPads with games that will let kids work on critical thinking exercises while they wait to be picked up after their Hatch lessons end.

For kids and parents who want to check it out, there are free 90-minute workshops on some Saturdays. Check MakerSquare’s website or Facebook page for details on the next session.

Codeup Seeks to Create New Developers in San Antonio

Reporter with Silicon Hills News

Codeup logo“Learn to Program. Get a Job Offer. Guaranteed.”
This is the not-so-humble sales pitch of Codeup – a for-profit code education startup founded by San Antonio entrepreneur and angel investor Michael Girdley. The startup offers a nine week programming boot camp located at Geekdom of San Antonio which will teach the programming skills currently sought for in the workforce. The startup’s first boot camp, starting Feb. 3, will focus on web development and will cover Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP, and JavaScript. The camp price tag is $7,430, and if the student does not receive a job offer within six months of completing the course they get half their tuition back. Enrollment has already begun.
Girdley justifies his guarantee with his business approach. Before launch, he collaborated with both small startups and larger companies in need of developers to find out exactly what skill-set they want to hire.
“We went and talked to them and got feedback on what they are looking for. We added a whole set of methodologies in terms of how to work as a team of programmers to the course after meeting with certain employers,” Girdley said. “Ultimately we have two customers. One is the student and the other is the employers. We have really worked hard to have them meet in the middle for everyone to be happy.”
Codeup’s classroom experience is designed to be as intensive and hands-on as possible. Students will learn concepts quickly in 15 minute intervals and then immediately implement them with exercises lasting 20 minutes. Each class will hold 20 students. Girdley will be teaching the classes along with Jason Straughn, Samantha Atkins, and Chris Turner. During exercises, all four instructors will be present to answer any questions. Classes will be eight hours a day and five days week.
To ensure that graduating students get hired, Codeup has formed agreements with 18 startups and recruiting companies who have agreed to consider hiring the graduates upon completion of the course. A few of the employers Girdley has talked to – whom he can’t name at this time – have such difficulty finding developers that they are willing to hire immediately after graduation.
Despite its growing tech talent, finding full time developers in San Antonio is a difficult task — both for large companies like Labatt Food Service and smaller startups such as Geekdom’s TrueAbility. Founder and COO Frederick “Suizo” Mendler welcomes an easier way to find developer talent.
“For us, it is a constant challenge to find folks that can operate at a fairly high level when it comes to the dev stuff. If they produce a good candidate then, yea, we’ll take a look at them,” Mendler said. “All the other developers we hire, we have to go out and hunt them down, go find them in weird places.”
Codeup will start out with only one class of 20, and that class is already starting to fill up. Codeup has received seven applicants since they went public a week ago and have already confirmed two spots. Texas State University Communications Graduate Leslie Tolbert was the first to sign up. She developed a love of programming in her last semester of college but was having trouble learning it all on her own.
“I really feel it’s an investment to myself to make this bigger commitment. It’s really hard to teach yourself how to program through all the other resources out there,” Tolbert said. “It was really appealing to me to have the option that Codeup presents to work with a team of peers…in a collaborative space with expert instructors available to answer questions.”
Tolbert was also able to take advantage of one of the three women’s scholarships Codeup offers, which will pay for half of the tuition. Two are still available.
As a for-profit company, Codeup will raise revenue by charging tuition and by charging a placement fee to the employer when they hire a graduate. The employer’s fee will be equal to 10 percent of the graduates annual salary. Codeup currently has no competitors in San Antonio, but would be competing with MakerSquare in Austin. While the model is similar to Rackspace Hosting’s Open Cloud Academy, the two will not directly compete because they are teaching different skills. In another similarity to the Open Cloud Academy, Girdley says applicants do not need any prior coding experience to be admitted.
“If you are a smart person and you are willing to work hard, you don’t need to know anything. Show up, we will take care of you.” Girdley said.

Geekdom was a sponsor of Silicon Hills News. TrueAbility is an advertiser with Silicon Hills News.

A Slice of Silicon Hills Features Austin-based MakerSquare

Reporter with Silicon Hills News

fb2398bd-1bea-4481-9fc9-4328d1432848_488Great tech startups need great developers – especially developers that are fluent in the latest coding languages used on the web. Unfortunately, the only way for companies to get such developers is to train them in house, or hope to find someone who has learned them on their own.
This week we talk to MakerSquare – a company created to address this problem by providing a 10-week training course that covers languages and skills that today’s tech companies need.
Based in Austin, MakerSquare has been working with several Austin companies to create a custom developer course. Students that graduate will have all the skills needed to be hired by these companies.
“The point of the course is two sided”, says Education Architect Harsh Patel. “One: To get people who want to get into web development into programming.. ..and Two: It helps companies in Austin find a lot of tech talent that they need. Because a lot of companies need web developer talent right now, but there’s just not enough.”
The intensive 10-week course is largely project based with students working alone, in groups, and with mentors from Austin tech companies. The training includes Ruby on Rails, JavaScript frameworks like jQuery and backbone.js, HTML5, and CSS3.
The first course will start on June 10 and can hold 24 – 28 students. The application process is still open. Applicants who do not make the first course may be placed in subsequent courses. MakerSquare plans to hold the first few courses back to back and hopes to be able to offer them more frequently this fall.
In order to be chosen for the program, applicants must demonstrate both a record of accomplishment and a drive to succeed.
“We look for people who have shown success in something else previously, whether it is technical-related or not,” says Patel.
Upon completion of the course, MakerSquare will help the graduates get internships, apprenticeships, or full time positions in tech companies across the nation. The current list of hiring partners includes uShip, Crushpath, PeopleAdmin, and others.
To apply for the developer training course, join as a hiring partner, or participate as a mentor in the program; go to Makersquare.

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