South Dakota has a major shortage of software engineers, although that is the case across the nation as well. This shortage forces business to slow their growth, outsource work out of state (or country), poach developers from another businesses, or spend a ridiculous amount of money to recruit and relocating employees from out of state. None of these options are cheap or sustainable, recruiting can easily cost $100k for a new employee, and there is no guarantee that they will stay.
Code Bootcamp of South Dakota launched in 2015 to help solve this problem by training developers with their 12-week, web development bootcamp. Their goal was to get new developers trained as quickly as possible to launch them into new careers as new entry level developers, freelancers or to continue their developer education.
During their first year of operation, they trained a dozen web developers and all of them that wanted full-time employment are now employed. Code Bootcamp launched their third bootcamp in May with four students.
Unlike a traditional computer science education, Code Bootcamp focuses on hands-on education, mentorship, and networking. Each class takes on various community website projects, most are at no cost, and the students will work on these projects as they learn web development first hand. The projects teach the students how to interact directly with clients, implement requirements, and deliver a final product.
Students have been from very diverse backgrounds with numerous reasons for attending. Most of them have been changing careers entirely, about 40% of the students are women, three students have moved to Sioux Falls from other states, and one student was in high-school. Their goals are equally unique, many have gone on to full time developer positions around Sioux Falls, some have chosen to launch their own freelance businesses, and a few have chosen to continue their education.
All of this is done under the close guidance of co-founder Josh Stroschein. Josh is a seasoned developer with over 12 years of experience and is a full-time instructor at DSU. Over the years, he has worked as a developer for companies like GunUp, Sterling E-Marketing/Nichols Media, Capital Services and has freelanced for dozens of companies.
Shortly after launching, the founders received a number of emails and phone calls from parents asking if they had any bootcamps for kids, which they did not.
Gaming Bootcamp was formed when co-founder Will Bushee posted a website in the spring of 2015 and said that if he could get 10 kids to sign up for a 5-day bootcamp to teach kids how to build video games, he’d run the bootcamp. Otherwise, everyone would get their money back and he’d do something else that summer.
Well, within a month he had his ten kids, plus five more. So he then needed to build a curriculum, find a teacher and actually launch the 5-day bootcamp. Their first Gaming Bootcamp had 17 kids, was taught by Brad Hartzler, and was a huge success.
Their success caught the eye of many organizations including Sioux Falls Christian, DSU, and the Girls Scouts. This summer, Code Bootcamp has four Gaming Bootcamps planned in Sioux Falls with sponsorships from Raven Industries, DocuTAP, Girl Scouts, and AT&T.
Code Bootcamp has heard so many great complements from the parents of their students. One commented that their son spend all night building characters for his new video game. Another parent said he had to take his son’s laptop away so he could get some sleep. We have heard from multiple students who explained that their views on video games is completely different now, always questioning how the game works instead of just playing them.
During the past year, Gaming Bootcamp has been featured multiple times on KELO, KSFY, KDLT and in the Argus Leader.
Native American Project
In March 2016, during a meeting with AT&T, Will mentioned the Gaming Bootcamp program that he started around Sioux Falls and this quickly led to a conversation about taking that program out to our state’s Indian Reservations. That idea rapidly got some launched after AT&T provided an $11k grant to Sioux Falls Diversity Council to make the program happen that summer.
Code Bootcamp will teach video game development to under served Native American kids in Sioux Falls, Lower Brule and Flandreau this summer. Each event will be four days long and will include transportation and meals for all of the kids attending. The bootcamps are being taught by a Robert Johnson, a Native American who teaches at Roosevelt High School.
A strong partnership between Code Bootcamp, Sioux Falls Diversity Council, and AT&T has quickly grew, and the group is planning on making this an annual event, growing each year. The program will be showcased by AT&T at their South Dakota Technology Showcase on August 2, 2016 at the convention center.
Code Bootcamp is passionate about education and is taking a non-traditional approach to teaching adults as well as kids. They saw a need in our community that was not being fulfilled by our current education systems and they set out to solve it.
By the fall of 2016, Code Bootcamp will have trained 15 new web developers for Sioux Falls and taught well over 100 kids how to build video games. And they are just getting started.
If you know someone who is ready for a career change, have them contact Code Bootcamp today at http://sdcodebootcamp.com or give Will a call directly at 605-610-9455.
If you know of any kids that love video games, get them signed up for a Gaming Bootcamp before they sell out. http://sdgamingbootcamp.com/
Sioux Falls needs more passion for technology if we are going to continue to grow. We also need to do a better job preparing our kids for a world build around technology. More must be done, and Code Bootcamp is a great example of being-the-change for Sioux Falls.