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Vermont’s First Computer Coding ‘Bootcamp’ Hopes Grads Will Stick Around

Thursday, May 3, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Jeff Couture

In 12-weeks you’ll be a software developer. That’s the hope of a Burlington startup that aims to teach students computing coding skills.

Now after months of developing, networking and building their business, the trio behind Burlington's new coding boot camp is ready to welcome their first class in a matter of weeks.

Back in 2016, Alex Horner was working at a start-up in Ithaca, New York. One day, he got a call from Benny Boas, a childhood neighbor, to start up a coding boot camp back in Vermont.

Coding boot camp is an accelerated and rigorous course designed to teach people how to be programmers.

And there weren’t any programs like this in the state. Boas, who was working in New York City at the time, thought a coding boot camp would do well in Vermont. Horner agreed.

“I realized the issues that this boot camp would solve, creating more developers, was a problem that I was facing directly and I thought ‘man, if this is affecting me on such a level, it must be much bigger than just my problem,’” said Horner, who is now the Chief Marketing Officer of Burlington Code Academy.

Horner and Boas moved back to Vermont last summer to start the company and did what many people in their early-20s do.

“We actually moved back in with our parents. I hadn't lived [with] my parents in like eight years before that,” he said. “But I knew that I needed to, you know, get some savings in while I ran this startup.”

Pretty soon, the duo became a trio with the addition of Alex Chaffee, who is now is the Chief Technology Officer and director of the course’s curriculum.

Almost 20-years their senior, Chaffee has spent his career in tech, working as a coder as well as leading corporate training, but he says he’s always wanted to develop a longer coding course.

“I had an idea that I wanted to do something like this but until I found these guys I wasn't able to do that on my own,” Chaffee said.

According to Chaffee, Burlington has a lot to offer the industry:

“Burlington has startups, it has co-working spaces, it has technical conferences. It has a lot of the stuff that makes San Francisco, Seattle, New York City very attractive to both tech companies and to tech workers,” Chaffee said.

Boas, who is also the CEO, jumps in:

“I found that starting businesses in smaller cities that are sort of untapped, but have the potential to be great, is such a great place for young entrepreneurs to start," Boas said.

According to Course Report, a website that tracks and writes about technology education, the average coding boot camp costs around $11,400.

Burlington Code Academy costs $9,950 though the first session is being offered at a discount.

The founders say the 12-week course will be intense - students will learn programming languages and skills needed to manage a project.

Boas said they’re also hoping graduates from the boot camp will choose to stay in the Burlington area.

“We see ourselves as sort of a funnel for new talent coming into the Burlington job market,” Boas said.

Local tech companies like MyWebGrocer and Union Street Media are already on board as hiring partners. Boas says students will also spend a lot of time at Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies.

VCET describes itself as an innovation hub: It offers co-working spaces, as well as funding and mentoring to start-ups.

President of VCET David Bradbury says the code academy will help get much needed workers into the local tech scene.

“It's the right product at the right time and they have the right sort of authenticity,” he said. “They are their audience and I think the world doesn't really suffer well sort of the posers and the wannabes."

Bradbury says there is one thing the three founders need to work on:

“Their ping-pong abilities are lacking and we really rank by ping-pong capability," Bradbury said with a smile, "and I am hoping they get some free time here this summer at some point to work on it."

Burlington Code Academy will welcome it's first class in June.

Source: Vermont Public Radio