UCA is taking part in the future of technology education in Arkansas with the Arkansas Coding Academy. The academy opened in June 2016 at the UCA campus and has gained ground each passing year, particularly in the recent grand opening of their new facilities Aug. 23.
As the demand for technology education rises each year, so do the opportunities for employment, particularly in the fields of software development and coding. ACA hones technical talent by offering programs that train aspiring information technologists and coding experts. ACA puts its students through an intense boot camp aimed to boost their knowledge of software development and their capabilities in using development programs.
Previously, ACA based its program out of a shared space in the Brewer Hegeman Conference Center on campus. On Aug. 23 UCA celebrated the ribbon cutting for the relocation of ACA. Their new facility has an array of new computers, study rooms, break rooms and personalized classrooms. The new venue is located five minutes from campus on South Donaghey Avenue, making it easily accessible for both students and Conway citizens.
The academy has two courses available: a
3- and 6-month boot camp.
“We’re open to everyone. We’re a part of UCA, but our admissions process is completely different,” ACA director Mary Condit said.
While the academy specializes in teaching people with a prior technological interest, they also welcome students and community members from every background.
The path to becoming a software developer can be bumpy, but it’s prosperous in the long run.
“[The program] can be mentally intense and kind of emotionally intense as well. They are both very challenging, but [have]a different set of challenges,” Condit said.
The first couple of weeks prove to be challenging for many students.
“[Students] are drinking out of a firehose,” Condit said. “For the first two weeks of this course, [they]question everything.”
Current ACA student and UCA alumnus Ronnie Stephens said what stood out the most about the boot camp was “two things: the challenge … and the marketability of the skill.”
Students learn what to expect of their future careers in coding and software development from ACA instructor Louis Frederick. Frederick employs his real-life software development experience within the classroom. He doesn’t hesitate to instill in the students what awaits outside the classroom.
“He is constantly stopping to say let me tell you how it will work in the ‘shop,’” Stephens said.
Frederick truly gives students a real-world expectation for their futures, Stephens said.
Both the 3- and 6-month programs aim to inspire work ethic and personal grit.
“Grit is a good way of putting it. It’s nose to the grindstone from day one of the bootcamp,” Stephens said.
Despite students facing long nights and trying days, ACA has provided prosperous results for its graduates.
“We take people from very little to no knowledge and make them employable. You could walk into a junior- or entry-level software development position after you are finished here. If you like
problem-solving, logic, algorithmic issues, pattern recognition … if that’s something that you really thrive on or love, software development could potentially be a great career for you,” Condit said.
For more information about the two boot camps, tuition cost, scholarships and the application process, visit arkansascodingacademy.com.
Photo by Lauren Swaim