In response to the immediate workforce needs of many regional computer programming employers, Northern Virginia Community College has graduated its first cohort of Uncommon Coders. The event was held on Friday, April 28 at the Regional Center for Workforce Education and Training on NOVA’s Woodbridge Campus.
Following a competitive application and interview process, this first cohort launched in early February. The group of ten students has spent 60 to 80 hours a week for the past 12-weeks in an accelerated on-site program designed to train veterans and give them the valuable coding skills they need to enter the very in-demand field of IT coding. Students have learned Java coding language, giving them the skills they need to move up in the information technology workforce. The program is focused on veterans, transitioning service members, military spouses and veteran spouses.
“Veterans and veteran’s spouses understand sacrifice. We wanted participation from individuals who were committed because this program was not for the faint at heart,” said Vice President of NOVA Workforce Steve Partridge. “In this region, there are more jobs in cyber than anywhere else in the country, and this program is critical in filling-in that pipeline. Employers are very concerned that people do not possess the soft-skills they need in order to be successful. We took veterans that already had those soft-skills and exposed them to various technical skills and potential employers along the way.”
NOVA Workforce has partnered with the Northern Virginia Technology Council (NVTC) to work with local and regional employers to learn their workforce needs and to help meet them. The partnership resulted in publication of the Northern Virginia Workforce Needs Assessment which identified a strong demand for individuals with soft skills, coupled with technical skills in coding languages, such as Java. NOVA is taking an industry driven approach to ensure employers have the talent pipeline they need to remain competitive in our regional economy.
“This was truly a rigorous course that started with 16 participants and ended with 10 graduates,” said NVTC Director of Veterans Employment Initiative Steve Jordan. “We can’t generate enough talent to fulfill the open jobs in this region. Now graduates will have the ability to leverage the amount of work they completed within 12-weeks and place their skills on resumes to connect with potential employers. Each student has a different story now than they did three months ago. They have the ability to tell their narrative and utilize what they’ve experienced or are currently experiencing in the military along with their new found skills.”
While serving in the Army Reserve, Peter Bruner decided to enroll in the Uncommon Coders program to further develop his skills in web and console applications. He previously completed a data analytics boot camp at another location, however as an Uncommon Coder graduate, he commends his instructors and fellow classmates for making this experience unforgettable.
“In the beginning, this experience felt very much like something that we couldn’t conquer,” Bruner said. “Coming from the military, we often find ourselves in situations that could be solved with a lot of hard work and sweat. But this program made us mentally sweat. Because we maintained a positive attitude to gain the technical knowledge we desired, we are now able to further pursue our careers.”
Graduates were awarded a certificate of completion from the program. As part of their coursework, students were required to design the following innovative web applications to attract consumers.
The Interactive Scorebook
Creators: Olympew Jordan and Kevin Allen
A user-friendly application for parents to view their child’s participation in little league games in real time, while checking game statistics and scoring.
Creators: Peter Bruner, D’Angelo Joyce and Alvin Williams
A web application that allows the consumer to search for goods, both new and used, in various shopping outlets in their geographical area.
Creator: Will Criss
An Android app developed for Operation Code, a 501 © (3) non-profit organization whose mission is to educate veterans and their families on program coding and web technologies.
Creator: Alvaro Balboa
A web application developed to offer a more convenient and user-friendly way to explore various parts of the world when traveling and sightseeing.
Pester Your Rep
Creators: Octavio Cisneros, Eric Ober and Ross Small
A web app created for users to contact their local government representatives with questions, concerns and/or suggestions.
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Northern Virginia Community College is the largest institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls more than 75,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield and Woodbridge, and through the Extended Learning Institute. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, call 703-323-3000 or visit the College's Web site, www.nvcc.edu.