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Moms launch adult technology camp to boost coding skills

TAMPA — A group of moms that started a technology camp for kids is back and working to bridge the technology gap again, this time with an intensive nine-week boot camp for adults.

The boot camp provides training for front-end developers, with a core curriculum that includes HTML, CSS, and Javascript, basic languages to build websites.

Phuong Cotey, co-founder and chief compliance officer of gr8code, said that the kids' camp over the summer was a success, and the group of moms is eager to start the adult camp.

The program is open to career changers and stay-at-home moms, as well as other novices that would like to improve their skills. Prework may be offered to some applicants to make sure everyone is on an equal playing field when they begin training in September.

Justin Davis, an internationally recognized designer and developer, who created the curriculum, said that it's the front-end developer's job to create the interface that someone interacts with to use a website, so that the user has a good experience. While the bulk of the course will focus on coding, it will also teach teamwork and business skills.

"Our goal is not just to turn out code monkeys that are just banging out code with their fingers," Davis said. "Our goal is to turn out really well-rounded professionals."

Davis is one of three "tech masters" who will teach the students.

"I have the opportunity to make an impact on community and growing up the next crop of technologists, and helping to sustain the next crop of technologists is an important mission for me," he said.

One of the things that attracted Davis to gr8code in particular was its location in a historic bungalow in Ybor City.

Joining Davis is developer Matt Branton, who — according to a news release — spent eight years making sure hackers didn't take down Wall Street; and strategic adviser Mitch Neff, who brings expertise in development and digital analytics.

Since Branton has a lot of experience with security issues, he will be able to help students dive into specialized topics. Neff, meanwhile, has experience on the marketing side to teach students business development.

"Instead of strong women behind the men, we have strong men behind the women," said Deborah Neff, co-founder and chief operating officer of gr8code.

Alfred Goldberg, president of North American operations for Absolute Mobile Solutions, a digital marketing agency, said he had to turn down a half-million dollars of work this year because of a lack of qualified front-end developers.

"There are so many new technologies that come out so fast that we found that most schools have trouble keeping up," he said. "So it's better to find people who are a good fit, that have acumen for software development, then go about looking for resources like gr8code to help them with skills."

He has committed to hire some of the early graduates. "We already take interns from a couple of local schools, and I'm really interested in seeing how they stack up," Goldberg said.

A partnership grew out of the women's shared experiences as mothers, friends, and businesswomen. Each women has her own niche. Cotey, a former reporter, handles communications. Neff, director of operations for Tampa Bay WaVE, a nonprofit helping entrepreneurs, organizes things, and Virginia Barnett, co-founder and CEO, who spent 15 years in business operations and management, now does the research to see where the money is going.

They also have a unique perspective as women in a predominantly male industry.

"I think it definitely gives us a sensitivity to the needs of a women," Barnett said. "We definitely have had to do a lot, and sacrifice a lot to get here, and I'm not saying that it's not the same for men, but we definitely have a few more hurdles as women on the respect side."

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To learn more about the technology camp, and the group gr8code, visit

Moms launch adult technology camp to boost coding skills 08/27/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 27, 2014 1:29pm]
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