“Entrepreneurs work 100 hours to avoid a 40 hour work week,” said Nihal Mehta, founding partner of ENIAC Ventures, addressing the inaugural class of Access Code, a program designed to provide an affordable way for underrepresented minorities to learn iOS development.
What distinguishes Access Code from many other code learning programs is that, as the final project, students create usable apps, which this group presented on Demo Day, which also served as their graduation ceremony, to an audience at the See.Me Gallery in Western Queens.
As for Mehta’s remark, student Sky Davis, a writer and recent Communications Design graduate, can readily attest to that.
“I lived in no other world but code,” said Davis, describing the past two months of her life in the program. Davis would like to work in a startup that will find new ways to teach science and technology to middle-schoolers. While she may not be an expert in coding, her drive is exactly what Education Program Director Ben Wei was looking for in applicants.
According to Wei, out of over 150 candidates who applied, those who demonstrated the best aptitude for tech and a passion for entering the tech industry made the cut. Previous coding experience was not required. The resulting class consisted of 57% females, 52% underrepresented minorities and 40% immigrants, all of whom worked well beyond the designated 50 hours of class to complete their projects.
Besides coming from various ethnic backgrounds, students also worked full time in such diverse careers such as graphic design, travel and human resources.
Students were split into four groups based on their preferences for creating a task-based, photo-based, password-based or dating app. There are plans to make the apps available for free in the iTunes App Store under the Coalition for Queens License. Get a glimpse of them below:
BusyBee – A tasklist manager app with a simple design that lets a person quickly and easily add tasks and check them off.
DeLockr – A password manager app which functions include an auto logout feature, an auto password generator and a password reminder to change your password every 90 days.
ShutterChef – A photo app that not only allows you to show off an image of your culinary masterpiece, but also provide a link to the recipe you used to create it. According to stats provided it took 3226 lines of code and 93 commits to accomplish.
Score – A dating app that “taps into a user’s vanity” by implementing a leaderboard that shows users not only who’s the most liked and disliked but who also does the most liking and disliking.
While further work on the apps is optional, since the session is over, instructor Eliot Arntz said that Access Code ultimately provided a tangible app which students could add to their portfolios. Michelle Fernandez, who worked on debugging for the Score team, recently landed a role as a developer intern with DreamIt Ventures, while Rebecca Kleinberg, who worked on the settings for DeLockr, wants to use her new skills to pursue her own startup.
As Kleinberg saw it, the tech industry is very much open to more ideas from a diversified talent pool. She noted that when there were coding times that proved especially difficult, she reached out to past instructors, who proved receptive and willing to assist in any way.
“The tech community is very giving of information; people generally want to help,” she said.
And now the tech world has a more diversified pool of applicants to choose from.
And as Congressmen Joseph Crowley also noted, “The neat thing that’s happening here…is that just about everyone that went up doesn’t look like a 51-year-old balding, but very good-looking, 6 foot 4 inch guy.”
Visit the Coalition for Queens site to stay updated about future programs offered.