The 15-week program—which is being described as a “code academy”—is designed to help working adults learn important STEM skills to meet the demands of the workforce. Students in the program will learn basic Java programming language, object-oriented programming, event handling, user interface programming and graphic techniques.
“I think there is a lot of value in providing an abbreviated version of the same Java curriculum that’s been proven at DMACC,” said David Kessler, Executive Consultant at Pillar Technology and a member of DMACC’s IT Partnership. “Basically accelerate that curriculum and measure those results to see what that provides to that community in our first slice.”
The academy is designed to give students an initiation into coding and see if it is right for them, rather than to make them immediately employable, Kessler told Clay & Milk.
“Candidly, we spoke across all the Partnership to employers in town and their response was that they would not be employable at that exact moment,” Kessler said.
The academy will have its first cohort in January 2019 and plans to run at least two times a year. Each cohort will consist of 20-25 students. The first session of the program is full, according to DMACC’s registration link.
“As a region, we’ve had conversations for the past couple of years as to why Des Moines didn’t have a code academy,” said Mary Bontrager, Executive VP of Talent Development at the Greater Des Moines Partnership. “We just felt it was really time to pull the trigger. So we made it a strategic priority at the Partnership in 2018.”
The total cost of attending the academy is $2750. Tuition is all-inclusive and includes the cost of textbooks, subscriptions and a laptop for each student.
“First and foremost, one of the goals we had in mind with an academy was to bring new people into that talent pipeline,” Bontrager said. “At the same time, we know that there are incumbent workers in many of our companies across Des Moines who may be in some technology-type job but this will give them the opportunity to get into coding which opens many doors for them.”
Students will not receive any course credit for attending the academy but will be able to use the academy in place of a Java course if they decide to later pursue a degree at DMACC.
“DMACC has provided a similar program over the last four years, but it was stretched out over a longer period of time,” said Michael Hoffman, Executive Director of Continuing Education DMACC. “So the Partnership reached out to us to see if we could put something together that would be a shorter period of time.”
While a program of this type is new for adults in central Iowa, it is not new to the state. Delta V Code School has been operating in Cedar Rapids since 2016 and The University of Iowa ran “Dev/Iowa,” a 9-week intensive coding bootcamp in Iowa City in 2014 and 2015. Additionally, a Des Moines-based volunteer organization called Reboot Iowa helps adults seeking to transition to a career in IT, educating them on basic IT skills and coding.