South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Austin Vaught
Contributing Writer 

New school teaches coding skills and more to students in Allentown

 

Academy Pittsburgh in Allentown, a free coding school, provides students with instruction on a variety of programming languages. The school began its first class of 17 students in mid-April.

Pittsburgh will begin to see an influx of new web developers following the recent opening of Allentown's Academy Pittsburgh, a free coding school promoting a curriculum centered around the most-needed skills in Pittsburgh's web development market.

Seventeen students kicked off the first semester at Academy Pittsburgh on April 18 in an educational space located across from its parent coworking incubator, WorkHard Pittsburgh on East Warrington Avenue.

According to co-founder Josh Lucas, Academy Pittsburgh's program provides students with instruction on a variety of programming languages such as Ruby, C#, Javascript, HTML, and CSS.

In addition to coding languages, students will also develop marketable development skills through hands-on experience with a variety of team-based methodologies such as agile development, pair programming, and code review.

"Academy Pittsburgh provides meaningful skill building opportunities to different kinds of people looking for economic advantage and personal growth," Mr. Lucas said. "Our boot camp sessions, methodology, and partnerships focus on delivering practical value to a community and corporate partners as we help grow the region's technology ecosystem."

All students are required to follow the same curriculum, which is geared towards preparing graduates to be ready to create web applications in any industry upon graduation.

"The curriculum was created in part with regional employers to identify what their needs will be over the next several months," Mr. Lucas said.

Like WorkHard Pittsburgh, it's expected Academy Pittsburgh will increase the tech and entrepreneurial community in Allentown over time. Mr. Lucas anticipates the addition of 17 students to the Allentown business district will benefit surrounding businesses and the overall redevelopment of the neighborhood.

"Our goal is to increase foot traffic so street-facing businesses will have a better chance of attracting customers," Mr. Lucas said.

At the end of each semester, the class will launch a new application that will benefit a local nonprofit. Mr. Lucas also said in addition to helping the community, Academy Pittsburgh will benefit entrepreneurship across the region as well.

"Academy Pittsburgh's mission is to give back and strengthen the regional entrepreneurial ecosystem," Mr. Lucas said. "A portion of our profits are directed into an impact investment fund to help seed the next round of innovation."

Another component of the school's mission is to provide opportunities to demographic groups that are underrepresented in the tech industry. Of this semester's class, 40 percent are minorities and 32 percent are women.

Academy Pittsburgh does not provide career placement or staffing services, but many staffing companies serve as sponsors and can help to connect students to careers after they've completed the program.

Classes are free; however, prospective students are required to take a short logic exam to evaluate critical thinking and problem solving skills. The exam also evaluates students' basic knowledge of technology usage.

Each semester will allow a maximum of 20 students to complete the 12-week semester. Class time requires about 35 hours each week. The current semester will run through mid-July, while the next semester is expected to begin in September.

For more information on Academy Pittsburgh visit http://www.academypgh.com/.

 

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