September 24, 2015

Coding Boot Camp Aims to Bring More Women Into STEM

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Nearly 225 students will learn how to code in languages like HTML, CSS and Javascript this Saturday at Cornell’s first Coding Boot Camp. Geared specifically towards women, the boot camp has received a huge response, filling all available spots on the first day of registration and now holding a waitlist of approximately 300 students.

“With this event, targeted to females, we’re trying to provide participants an opportunity to learn introductory coding concepts and principles,” said Rose Pember ‘16, one of the event assistants.

Pember said demand for the event was high and came from a diverse group of students.

“With this event, targeted to females, we’re trying to provide participants an opportunity to learn introductory coding concepts and principles,” said Rose Pember ‘16, one of the event assistants.

Included in the 225 participants are 25 mentors and 20 students from local high schools. The remainder of the participants represent a wide range of demographic groups across different undergraduate majors and graduate programs.

The course will provide students with both a good foundation in and holistic understanding of web design coding, according to Ami Stuart, the camp’s main organizer. Each student will walk away from the event with their own website that they can continue to update and modify after the event is over. Server provider DigitalOcean is covering the cost of hosting all the websites on its servers.

“If you’ve ever done any online coding courses, you’d know that they’re hard to follow,” said Stuart, who is the Tech Events Manager for Entrepreneurship at Cornell. “Some courses break it down into such tiny steps that you can’t see the bigger picture of how the components connect.”

The Coding Boot Camp aims to help participants gain the fundamentals necessary to further explore and understand coding concepts taught online, Pember said.

“Because it’s an introductory course, people may have to follow up on the material after the event,” Pember explained. “The purpose of the event is to get over that hump of ‘What do I do?’ ‘How do I start?’”

Although the Coding Boot Camp has never taken place at Cornell before, it follows the formatting of previous successful events. According to the camp’s organizers, the two coding instructors — Albert Wenger, managing partner of Union Square Ventures, and Susan Danziger, founder of Ziggeo — have both taught similar events in the past.

In addition to the instructors, there will be 25 mentors available to help students, according to Stuart. The mentors include full time engineers or software developers, as well as Cornell computer science students.

Sponsors of the event, including Accenture, Ziggeo and Student Agencies, Inc., responded to the overwhelming enthusiasm for the boot camp by providing the funds to expand the event from an original size of 100 students to 250. The event also involves many student groups, including Women in Computing Cornell.

Rythika Francis ’19 said walking away with a personal website and basic computer science skills is an attractive benefit of the coding boot camp.

“Coding already seems to be a dominant and universal language, and it’s only going to grow from here,” Francis said. “Computer science is going to play an even bigger role in the lives of our next generation, and soon children will be learning it from a young age, along with math and science. The sooner I can learn it, the better, I’ve been putting it off for a while so I think Coding Boot Camp will be a great way to begin learning this language.”

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