Courtesy of Phil Hayes

October 11, 2016

TAVtech Expands to Cornell, Hopes to Teach Students to Code in Israel

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A new Cornell nonprofit offers entrepreneurial students the opportunity to spend their winter break learning programming skills in a startup setting.

TAVtech teaches students of all skill levels to code while abroad in Israel. Originally comprised of almost exclusively students from Harvard and New York University, the organization decided to include Cornell students for this winter’s trip.

Cofounder of TAVtech, Phil Hayes, said the program allows people to have a positive impact and learn valuable programming skills that are increasingly relevant in today’s economy.

“There are so many students who have passionate interests beyond their courses. They want to have a positive impact in some way, shape or form,” he said. “Yet we’re also noticing this massive skills gap where students just may not have all the skills necessary to build — in this case software — that is so integral now to our economy and how things work in the world.”

Students learn new skills from a curriculum is taught by instructors who Hayes said can relate to students and remember what it was like to learn the code themselves.

In addition, the curriculum includes certain relevant skills like learning iOS and Android that are not usually taught in a four week course.

Hayes added that Israel is an ideal environment for learning about new companies, pointing out that the country has more startups per capita than anywhere else in the world.The setting also allows students in the program to meet with other parts of the startup economy, such as venture capitalists, startup founders and work in startup labs at local universities.

“Israel has this unbelievable startup economy. It’s been recognized as the startup nation,” he said. “It has a really healthy and thriving ecosystem that’s building very successful companies that are launching on a global scale.”

Hayes said that he believes that being abroad also helps the learning process. One of his personal beliefs is that the greatest learning happens when one is placed in a totally different environment.

Although TAVtech was originally geared toward students with little background knowledge in computer science, Hayes said that now the program has expanded and will allow students of all backgrounds to improve their skills. While beginner students can learn the basics, the instructors also have deep knowledge in various advanced areas, such as bitcoin and artificial intelligence, that allow more advanced students to be engaged as well.

While the deadline to apply was originally Oct. 10, the deadline has been extended for Cornell students to Oct. 17.