Code Labs One: Improved and Expanded

Code Labs One Course

The Marquette Tech Institute has improved and expanded Code Labs One1, their adult computer programming training course.

The Program

Code Labs One is a rigorous 20-week course designed to introduce participants to computer programming, using the popular programming language, Ruby2. All students complete the same core curriculum during Units 1 and 2. In Unit 3, students get the chance to learn in-demand skills as they develop a project under the guidance of a local employer. By the end of the program, individuals will have the necessary skills as an entry-level developer.

The class begins July 8, is held Mondays and Thursdays from 5:30-8:30pm, and is led by a group of local professional software developers. The flipped classroom model has participants learning outside of the classroom and working on group projects when they come to the face-to-face classes. By the end of the course, graduates will have multiple projects in their portfolio and experience with computer programming in a group and real-world working environment.

Who Should Apply

This is the fourth cohort the organization has put on since 2016 with more than 100 participants entering the program. And those participants come from all walks of life: GED’s to PhD’s, 18 to 80 years old, unemployed to factory workers to stay-at-home moms. A majority of participants enroll to the course because they are interested in seeking a job in tech or professional development for their current jobs.

Code Labs One Demographic Statistics, April, 2019

Code Labs One Demographic Statistics. Click to Enlarge.

Applicants complete a critical thinking assessment that is the biggest determinant of their invitation to the program. Logic and Reasoning prove to be the best indicator of if someone will succeed as a computer programmer. Up to 40 participants are invited to the program.

Improved and Expanded

Throughout each cohort, the organization meets with participants and employers to make improvements to the program based off of their feedback. Graduation rates have nearly doubled since the first cohort. This upcoming cohort will see several changes and improvements:

  • More employers: Companies such as Codefi Labs3, Red Letter Communications4, Vintage Software5, and Vizient6 will lead groups in the final unit, with more to be announced soon.
  • More languages: While learning Ruby and Ruby on Rails, participants will be taught Angular7 as well.
  • Pair-programming: Students will have partners within groups, so they are not isolated throughout the learning process, and build applications together.

What it Takes to Succeed

While the organization can’t guarantee that participants will receive job offers, we’re able to look at those who have gone on to get jobs and give a little insight. Most of the individuals had less than 50 hours of coding experience - maybe they had dabbled in a free online course in the past. The most successful participants attended nearly every class and stayed the entire time; while this may seem obvious, doing well in a free course takes some serious self-discipline and will power. And they typically spend close to 20 hours a week working on program activities. Most of these people already had full-time jobs, so it took incredible dedication.

But dedication that’s worth it. Graduates who have gone on to get jobs have seen their salaries increase by an average of more than 200%. The annual mean wage of developers in our region is nearly double the average of all other occupations.