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Ga. Tech-Savannah graduates its first Coding Boot Camp

  • The inaugural class of Georgia-Tech Savannah’s Coding Boot Camp. The six-month program teaches the fundamentals of coding and web development, while offering one-on-one time to students. (Photo courtesy of Back River Photography/Wayne C. Moore)
  • Kandace Sweat shows how to manage her final Georgia-Tech Savannah Coding Boot Camp project at Demo Day on Thursday. Sweat, a Web Application developer for Daniel Defense, created a Learning Management System that will aid the company in new employee training. (Photo courtesy of Back River Photography/Wayne C. Moore)
  • Georgia Tech-Savannah Coding Boot Camp graduate, Laurie Zipperer, right, talks about her final coding project at Coding Boot Camp Demo Day on Thursday. Zipperer built an application that functions as a community for new developers. (Photo courtesy of Back River Photography/Wayne C. Moore)
  • Patrick Bentley, right, a recent graduate of Georgia Tech-Savannah’s Coding Boot Camp talks, about his final project, which is an application that connects educators in the area with industry professionals. (Photo special to the Savannah Morning News)

The internet is the best, and sometimes only, link to fundamental information and networks, but code is the power to unlock it all.

As web design and development move to the forefront in today’s economy, Georgia-Tech Savannah this week graduated its first Coding Boot Camp. The intense six-month program teaches the fundamentals of coding and web development.

“I have never seen code before, and I definitely feel like I got a lot out of this boot camp,” graduate Laurie Zipperer said.

While other courses are a great way to get a feel for coding, the Georgia Tech program offers students more one-on-one time with instructors for mock interviews, career coaching, sample coding tests and career events; those experiences, Zipperer said, were crucial.

“Compared to a lot of the other boot camps that the surrounding area offers, this is the best one. … The amount of support that Georgia Tech offers is just unbelievable,” Zipperer said.

Graduate Kandace Sweat participated in a coding-based certificate program before graduating from the University of Georgia in 2013 with a degree in communications. It was that program that exposed her to coding, mobile apps and building websites, cementing her path in web development.

“That steered me away from public relations, and I knew once I graduated that coding is what I wanted to do and it’s what I’m passionate about,” said Sweat, who now works at Daniel Defense as a web application developer.

Sweat came to realize that she needed to further her coding and technical background. She found the Georgia Tech program through an email sent by her company.

“I needed that technical background, and I needed an academic way of learning coding and needed someone to go to if I ran into problems,” she said.

The students said time management was one of the biggest challenges of the 24-week course, but the support from instructors and staff was unmatched.

“It was a struggle, especially when we came to difficult concepts, which there were a lot of, but the teaching assistants and everyone else is extremely helpful, and if you had an issue with a problem you could always go to them and we always came to a solution,” Sweat said.

“I don’t think I ever had a problem that we didn’t come to a solution on.”

Sweat said she’s been able to apply her knew skills at her job and has created a Learning Management System that will serve as a hub where training directors can upload material for new employees.

“It’s helped a lot. There are so many projects and possibilities. I’m really excited about it,” she said.

Zipperer plans to use what she learned to build on her professional career and contribute to the local technology scene in Savannah.

“This boot camp really did a great job with the amount of resources and support and helping to build that technology in Savannah,” she said.

“… (Coding) is definitely the way that things are moving, so it’s smart to even just touch on it because I think that it’s going to be an essential part of everybody’s careers at some point.”

Patrick Bentley, an emerging-industries project manager for the Savannah Economic Development Authority, said the experience, although stressful at times, was amazing.

“It started off really smooth, but towards the middle it got really challenging, which was mostly time constraints. We crammed a lot of stuff into six months, but overall it was a great experience. Looking back, it’s amazing how far we’ve come,” he said.

Bentley, who said he wrote code for a hobby before the course, hopes the boot camp helps to pave the way for more technical jobs in the area.

“Now that we have a course like this what I hope for the future is that it continues to grow and for us as a city to committed to more and more knowledge-based job opportunities,” he said.

“Knowledge-based businesses are emerging in our economy, so something like this is integral to what it is that we want to achieve.”

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For more information about Georgia Tech-Savannah Coding Boot Camp, go to www.pe.gatech.edu/courses/georgia-tech-coding-boot-camp

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