The New York Code and Design Academy in Philadelphia
February 18, 2016
“Coding.” When you hear the word, do you immediately think we’re talking about a foreign language? Do you immediately conjure up every Hollywood stereotype of a hacker you’ve ever seen? Our clients, the New York Code and Design Academy, are out to change that. Coding is an incredibly useful skill that’s at the heart of so much of business today, and NYCDA wants to make sure everyone who wants it has access to a great education and the opportunities that entails.
We talked to Constance Ip, NYCDA Philadelphia’s Director of Development, about the place coding has in our society. What she had to tell us touched on everything from STEM Education to civic duties. Read on for more.
The Hub: NYCDA is growing fast: You started in New York, expanded to Philadelphia at our facility, and you’ve opened up in Amsterdam! What about the world you operate in is driving this growth, do you think?
Constance Ip: Digital technology is transforming the world and touches our lives every day. Many of us grew up watching technology grow by leaps and bounds. The people who come to our programs are usually those who want to be a part of the technological changes taking place today, and contribute in meaningful, creative, and transformative ways. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, technology allows us to dream of ways to make things better and actually have a chance of putting it into action. This is both a global and local phenomenon, as demonstrated by the success we’ve seen in opening our academies in Amsterdam and Philadelphia.
The Hub: Tell us about coding as you see it today.
CI: Coding no longer gets the negative rap that it used to have. It used be perceived as a skill that only overly intellectual, antisocial male “nerds” would pursue. Now, more and more, we see diversity in our classes. People from all walks of life, of all gender, race, and industry, come to our programs, and it is a skill that is respected and desired amongst people of all ages. We pride ourselves on promoting diversity in our student body, teaching staff, and ongoing Women in Tech and Techgirlz event partnerships.
The Hub: Recently you hosted an event with us that addressed Civic Hacking. Can you tell our readers a little bit more about what that means, and how it can help our communities?
CI: Civic Hacking began as a niche theory about the potential to improve government using technology which has quickly expanded to focus more on changing the culture of government to work more effectively and creatively with its citizens – technology can often be a part of improving this citizen-government interface.
In essence, it is the bringing together of citizens, software developers, and entrepreneurs to collaboratively create, build, and invent using publicly-released data, code, and technology to solve challenges relevant to our neighborhoods, our cities, our states, and our country.
Learn more about Civic Hacking here.
The Hub: You also have worked with the Philadelphia chapter of Girl Develop It. STEM education has become a real hot button in the past few years; do you see progress when it comes to getting young women interested in coding careers?
CI: Girl Develop It has gotten a lot of traction with getting more women engaged and interested in learning about technology. As we mentioned before, our classes are slowly but noticeably getting more diverse. In many of our programs, we see equal numbers of women enrolled, if not more so, as men. However, there’s still a long way to go before we see this reflected in the workplace. Most professional developers we encounter are men, and technology companies struggle to achieve gender balance especially in their development teams. Programming bootcamps like our Web Development Intensive (there’s one coming up April 4) are a huge help in lowering the barrier to entry of a tech education, and we’re proud to introduce more female and minority programmers into the workforce.