A new coding program created by Penn alumni will help students learn real-world computer science skills without ever setting foot in Computer and Information Science 110.
Horizons, a coding bootcamp course that 2014 Wharton graduate Edward Lando and 2015 College and Wharton graduate Abhi Ramesh will offer at Penn, seeks to give students real-world coding skills that they can use in their future careers. They developed the idea while they were at Penn after seeing some flaws present within the CIS department. Lando and Ramesh were both heavily involved in computer science at Penn — both took numerous CIS classes, self-studied coding languages and participated in hackathons to hone their skills.
“Computer science programs at school often do not always offer you the skills to build stuff in the real world," Ramesh said. "I learned that firsthand from the CIS classes that we took and the people we spoke to."
In order to combat the growing divide between the computer science curriculum and the tools students need to help build useful applications outside of the classroom, Lando and Ramesh have turned their course into a bootcamp-style class that connects students with real companies to work on projects with. Horizons is different from other bootcamps in that it is built specifically for college students.
Students at Penn can get involved in Horizons by filling out an application that helps the teachers to determine whether their skills and desire to learn matches the requirements of the class. Then, students are paired with teachers and teaching assistants on campus to help teach the course.
“The bootcamp model is a tried-and-true method, but we were surprised to see that it was not being implemented on college campuses. Your four years at school are some of your most formative years, and you really want to have these skills before you enter the job market,” Ramesh said.
The course can be taken either during the school year, involving less time commitment per week, or during the summer, which is a more in-depth course. Lando and Ramesh plan on launching bootcamps both at Penn and on other college campuses such as New York University.
Another very different aspect of Horizons is that students have access to real-world companies that offer problems to help students develop their coding skills.
“Some people, who have already applied to the class have their own ideas for things that they want to build, and either they have not found the right person to build it with them or they do not have the skills. They will be able to work on early prototypes of that,” Lando said.
Lando and Ramesh are currently searching for more TAs for the Penn course — other Penn students are eligible to apply as TAs. Applications for Horizons are currently open.