August 13, 2014
Earlier this year Zivtech received a Startup PHL "call for ideas grant" from the city of Philadelphia. The project’s goal was to help teach aspiring students or recent graduates today’s top web development technologies and help sculpt the technical landscape of the city. With help from Neomind Labs we have set out to help change the future for 24 students, or devcampers as I like to call them, at the first Philly Dev Camp. Philly Dev Camp is a web developer boot camp focusing on skills that local tech companies are looking for in today's workforce.
I have been an instructor with Zivtech for about a year now, and this is one of the larger--if not largest--classes I have taught. As the instructors, we did not get to learn much about the students before Philly Dev Camp started, but David Hamme, Neomind's Alex Kaplan, and Zivtech President/CTO Jody Hamilton, did great job of choosing the right devcampers for the inaugural 2014 camp. We have been collecting a ton of feedback about the camp so far, and things seem to be going really well from what we have gathered. We probably have a few things to work on, but it's a first for everyone this year. We are hoping with the outcome of this year’s camp we can continue working with the city to provide technical education to Greater Philly Area residents and keep the camp going.
Devcampers have already completed 4 weeks out of the 5 weeks of this year’s class. Students have learned a handful of crucial skills so far such as command line basics, the LAMP stack, git for version control, and SASS for front-end development. Many students came into this class just knowing some HTML and CSS, while others have already built their own sites using Wordpress, so the skill levels are varied throughout the class. The most notable characteristic to me about this class is that those that are more advanced are eager to help their less-experienced peers. This means that they are going to work well on teams with multiple developers in the future.
I am only one of the handful of instructors that Zivtech has brought to the table for Philly Dev Camp. Our other 2014 Philly Dev Camp instructors are Jody Hamilton, Sean Wolfe, and Howard Tyson. Each of us was tasked to cover our strongest skillsets. I covered git, MySQL, and Drupal Site Building. Jody has covered command line basics, vim, PHP basics, and advanced Drupal site building and Drupal development. Sean has covered CSS and SASS front end development, and Drupal theming. At the end of last week, Howard started taking the devcampers on a hike through hot new web technologies like Angular.js, Node.js, and newer database systems like MondoDB, redis, and memcache. This week students have been getting a full helping of Ruby on Rails training by Ryan Findley and John Parsons from Neomind Labs. Outside of our instructor team, we have also had some additional help from Zivtech team members Victor Lourng and James Jones.
I had always wanted to be a teacher, so being able to help the students of Philly Dev Camp learn something I enjoy doing, and is a very useful skillset for their future, is a very rewarding feeling. It will be interesting to see how things shape up for the remaining 3 weeks of Philly Dev Camp and where these new skills will take them after the class is over. I’m looking forward to this becoming a yearly thing that we can continue for a long time to help build up Philadephia as a major contributor to shaping tomorrow's web.
Follow Phillly Dev Camp on Twitter at @phillydevcamp.