An experiment across 17 universities shows the secret to diversifying the tech industry

CodePath University City College of San Francisco Cohort, Fall 2016

Our Vision: Free Engineering Education For All

Over the past few years, CodePath has trained 2000+ engineers at 100+ companies in Silicon Valley. We’re proud of the fact that no individual has ever paid for a CodePath course. We believe the best education in the world should be freely accessible and we’ve been fortunate to work with great companies like Facebook, Uber, Airbnb, Box, and others to help make this vision a reality. Alumni of these classes include one of the co-founders of Reddit, a former tech lead for Apple Watch, head of Android for Coursera and many now prominent iOS and Android developers across Silicon Valley.

From teaching so many engineers across the major technology companies, we’ve learned that talented developers don’t always have the typical background. Strict quality standards, partnerships with organizations like Women Who Code, and a gender and color blind selection process has allowed CodePath to achieve diverse representation with about 40% of CodePath’s honors students coming from historically underrepresented groups in tech.

Some may find this statistic unexpected because CodePath is not a diversity and inclusion organization. CodePath solely looks at technical ability and potential in the application process and strictly removes students from the course for missing class or assignments.

Solving for diversity in tech is a complicated issue and we don’t claim to be experts but one thing has become clear to us: In a meritocratic environment, removing barriers to access increases representation across both ethnic and gender groups.

A Free University to Level the Playing Field

At the beginning of the year, we announced a program called CodePath University intended to give students from underrepresented backgrounds at a variety of colleges free access to Silicon Valley’s premier iOS engineering curriculum.

The program had two goals: 1. See if talented engineers are distributed across a variety of socio-economic, ethnic, and gender backgrounds and 2. provide a bridge between traditional CS and industry programming standards that will directly lead to job opportunities.

We took our iOS engineering curriculum and adapted it for the university student and brought it to 17 colleges nationwide. The most competitive school we worked with is ranked number 6 in CS. The least competitive school we worked with does not rank in the top 400 CS schools.

We are excited to share with you the progress we have made from our very first pilot of CodePath University.

The pilot CodePath University program launched at 17 Universities Fall 2016

12 Weeks of iOS at 17 Universities

In the 2016 Fall Semester, 3,400 students applied to the CodePath University Pilot program. For the first run, we accepted 300 of our applicants representing a total of 17 Universities. We targeted a variety of schools, both schools that have excellent engineering curriculums as well as schools that do not rank in the top 400 CS schools nationwide. We wanted to give dedicated and hardworking students the opportunity to be seen through the strength of their portfolio, students who may have otherwise been overlooked by industry recruiters. The program spanned the entire Spring semester in 12-week long project based exploration of iOS and the Swift programming language.

 

CCSF students practicing pair programming during a lab.

An Accelerated Class with High Expectations

CodePath is known for it’s extremely rigorous approach to learning that requires a monumental level of commitment and grit from students. CodePath University students were held to the same high standards that we hold professional engineers to; they attended mandatory 2 hour class sessions twice a week and were required to complete and submit a weekly app assignment that often required 10+ hours of work outside of class.

 

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Take No Days Off: Saturday Hack Days

The coding madness continued even on weekends during remote Saturday Hack sessions where professional mentors were online to help students trouble shoot their projects and fix bugs. Some Universities even organized their own in-person meetups as well as plugging in remotely.

What I loved most about Saturday Hack sessions were the interactions between students from different Universities, collaborating remotely. This is when the full magnitude of the community we were building became apparent to me. This was more than a class, it was a nationwide effort of University Students working together to achieve a common goal!” – Charlie Hieger, CodePath University Dean

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Saluting Our Student Leaders

Due to the scale and geographical locations of all the Universities who participated, we had to take a unique approach to instruction. Each program had 3 student leaders who applied and were selected ahead of the class start. Student leaders worked tirelessly ahead of the students and communicated with us in order to facilitate instruction and support during the in class sessions and labs. Without them and without their leadership, these classes wouldn’t have run as smoothly as they did. In the next round of classes, student leaders will be alumni from the previous class.

The great camaraderie in my group warmed my heart. The student leaders would go out of their way to make sure we would be able to complete the assignments on time; a few hack days became hack nights with pizza or Thai food – Chris C. Hernandez, CCSF

 

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Giving Back to the Community: Professional Mentors

Each school was assigned several professional mentors who were all alumni of our professional engineering programs. More than 40 mentors met with student leaders on video calls to help prep them for each week. It was the Mentor’s job to help provide context, insights on industry best practices and help guide students as they collaborated on their group project apps.

I would attribute my success at CodePath University to its curated and high-quality curriculum, as well as the AMAZING mentors support (through Slack). Oh and not to forget, it was FREE. Woooh! haha – Monte Thakkar, CCSF

 

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Group Project Apps and Demo Day

The culmination of the course was an original app created by students working in teams. Students presented their apps during a Demo Day event at their university. By the end of the program CodePath University teams had created over 50 original apps. The quality and creativity of all the apps was amazing, especially considering that students entered the program with little to no prior experience working with iOS and the Swift programming language.

I think that the greatest thing about CodePath was the network. If it wasn’t for Codepath, I would have never met some of the people who are some of my closest friends today. – Sean Crenshaw, CS, Virgina Tech

Group Project Showcase

We are excited to share with you the app videos from 4 teams that really stood out for their compelling use cases, technical execution, design and creativity.

Dine: Texas A&M

Dine is a location based platform aiming to help you find a lunch buddy and plan meals more easily. With Dine, you can create a dining event with friends sharing location and chatting with each other. More importantly, dining with strangers nearby is also supported which offers a new way of social networking.

Dine is developed by Yi Huang, Senyang Zhuang and You Wu of Texas A&M.

Before the Codepath iOS course, we did not have any mobile development experience. The online guides are really good materials to study. It provides not only basic concepts and step-by-step tutorials but also high-level performance optimization.” – Yi Huang, first year graduate student, CS, Texas A&M

 

Muse: Fordham University

The Muse is an iOS application that brings the experience of the Fordham University Museum of Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Art into the digital age. With the app you are able to navigate through the Museum’s expansive collection, learn unique details about each object, and even listen to real Fordham students describing the objects.

Muse is developed by Michael Gonzales  and Michael Ceraso of Fordham University Rose Hill Campus.

“The journey to accomplishing our goals has been tough but extremely rewarding. Code Path certainly gave us the foundation that made our road clear. Even beyond it being a “student project,” the museum staff encouraged the development of the app as an official piece of their educative platform. Because of their support we’ve had the opportunity to brand and publish an ancient art collection in digital form. And that in itself has been an extremely rewarding experience.” – Michael Gonzales, Junior, CS, Fordham University

 

SF Art Opening: City College of San Francisco

The SF Art Opening app is for anyone already in the art community, interested in joining it, or just looking to have a fun night. This app was designed with  ease of use and utility mind. You can use the app to quickly find art openings in San Francisco, and then quickly get a ride share to the event. While you’re at the gallery, you can use the chat feature in the app to chat with other people there. Whether you’re an artist wanting to communicate with enthusiasts, or a shy person looking to talk to others about the art, the chat feature is for you.

SF Art Opening is developed by Christopher Soria, Juan Hernandez and Christopher Soria of the City College of San Francisco.

The class was very challenging and therefore rewarding when we completed it. We came out with a new and useful skill, and a lot of new friends. There was a very strong sense of “We did it!” at the end of the class. All I can say to future students is: don’t give up! There were many times I felt like it was too hard, or that I wouldn’t be able to catch up.  Just do the best you can, ask a lot of questions, and work closely with your peers and push forward. Anything worth doing will not be easy. This class is no exception.” – Christopher Soria, Junior CCSF, attending UC Berkeley in the Fall

 

QSport: Virginia Tech

Quick to find, Quick to play, QSport is the revolutionary app that will change the way you play pickup sports. It allows users to play any pickup sport on the fly. For any sport from A to Z, QSport gives users the opportunity to meet and play against anyone in the area. Not only does it provide easy access, it also allows people to get together and play on a team. Never again will you arrive at a court empty-handed.

Qsport is developed by Rupin Bhalla, Rishi Pulluri, Vincent Le and Sean Crenshaw of Virginia Tech.

Through Codepath, I was able to find a strong passion in computer science. I always looking for something tangible to code in computer science, but when I found iOS development through Codepath I knew it was for me. After long nights of working on QSport with my team, I was really proud of myself that I created something that can potentially change the world and impact a lot of people. – Rupin Bhalla, Student Leader, Junior double majoring in CS and computer modeling/data Analytics, Virginia Tech

Securing Internships at Top Tech Companies

A huge goal of the program is to help students secure internship opportunities. Along with the knowledge and skills students learn throughout the course, they finish the class with an amazing portfolio piece in the form of their group project. Students who went through CodePath University both on their own and with our help secured internships at various companies including: Google, Yelp, Apple, Amazon, Slack, Capital One, MakeSchool, State Farm, Philips, Blackstone, Morgan Stanley, Sony and more.

Future of CodePath University

The first run of CodePath University taught us that there there is an incredible well of untapped and largely invisible potential.  Talented engineers are everywhere but too often, students with high potential are at institutions that provide few opportunities and outdated curriculums. 

We are excited to continue building and scaling Codepath University both locally and internationally. Over the next couple years, you’ll see many more courses added for students across areas like Android, Web Security, and React. We will work to bridge the gap not just between industry and universities but also across the socio-economic boundaries.

Want your company to sponsor CodePath University and reach thousands of college engineers? Sign up for updates here.

Want to take free CodePath Classes at your college or university? Sign up now at http://www.codepathuniversity.com/

Congratulations again to all the students who completed this first round of CodePath University. It was not an easy road. Completing this program required truly monumental levels of commitment and grit from the students. You should be proud of your hard work and your accomplishments.

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” – Thomas A. Edison

Uber and CodePath partner to launch free 8-week Android class

We’re excited to announce that CodePath is partnering with Uber to provide an 8-week evening Android course for experienced engineers this summer.

The purpose of the course is to expand mobile engineering opportunities in the developer community and provide engineers from non-traditional backgrounds an opportunity to take a free, accelerated mobile engineering course.

Twenty-five students and 5 Uber engineers will be selected to attend in person at Uber’s San Francisco headquarters (some engineers will be approved to attend remotely).

Read more about the announcement on the Uber Blog or apply to the course here.