Horizons School of Technology, a startup founded by Penn alumni, ran its first coding bootcamp course this summer right next to Penn’s campus.
2014 Wharton graduate Edward Lando and 2015 College and Wharton graduate Abhi Ramesh, along with co-founder Darwish Gani, ran the 12-week program. After an involved admissions process that whittled down roughly 2,000 prospective students online, it enrolled 44 students, including 14 from Penn.
“Overall, the program exceeded our wildest expectations,” Ramesh said. “It’s a very intense program. We had a lot of very good outcomes.”
Students learned web and app development, aiming for high levels of proficiency in a variety of languages and frameworks.
“They’re not necessarily the best engineers they could be yet, that takes time, but the really important thing that came out of it was these students now have real perspective around what it means to be a technically-minded entrepreneur,” Ramesh said.
One of the main features of the course was a speaker series, which, either in person or via Skype, brought people like Fred Ehrsam, CEO of Coinbase, Jesse Beyroutey, partner at IA Ventures, and Ken Baylor, Head of Compliance at Uber, to speak to the students.
“We had them give their perspective on what it means to be someone entering the world of technology in 2016 and how our students can become leaders in tomorrow’s world,” Ramesh said.
Wharton sophomore Will Yoo said that he met Lando and became enamored with Horizon’s ambitious long-term vision, and decided to enroll in the summer course.
“I would describe it as just excitement in the air all the time, whether it is 8:00 p.m. or 2:00 a.m. in the morning, there is someone doing something really cool,” Yoo said.
Yoo emphasized the value of what he gained from Horizons: namely, the coding skills and the connections with instructors, teaching assistants and other students, all of whom he is still in touch with.
“If you put the most ambitious, creative, kind-hearted people in a room together and give them the foundation of being able to develop software, coupled with this perspective of what it means to be an entrepreneur and what it means to work in the technology industry, that insight combined with the hard skills — it’s invaluable,” Yoo said.
Next up for Horizons is a more in-depth, semester-long course in San Francisco starting in January. After that, next summer, Horizons will expand to have three concurrent programs in Philadelphia, San Francisco and Boston.
Horizons is targeted at college students who are interested in getting into the technology industry, even if they are not computer science students or even engineers, Ramesh said.
“At schools like Penn, where entrepreneurship is budding, there’s people with a lot of great ideas, but they don’t have the tools to implement them,” he said. “If you’re thinking about doing something in technology, learning how to code can only help you. That’s where Horizons can really provide value.”
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