Coding Bootcamp

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Editor's note: The following Ideas and Creations entry was originally posted in Professor Lee's personal blog "The Digital Age" available at:

In a recent interview on CNN Money, college graduates are interviewed after attending a 19 week training course to become computer programmers. The course was called Dev Bootcamp and the students paid $12,000 to attend this program. They are called coders by the interviewer, but are they really prepared?

One student said that she didn't take Computer Science in college because she would not have learned web programming. That's not true at Luther College! We have been teaching web programming for close to 10 years. Web programming really consists of two pieces, Database programming and Internet programming, and we teach both at Luther. In addition, we teach a lot of other topics that help support these important skills and we prepare students for jobs in all areas of Computer Science from graduate school to jobs at Google, Microsoft, IBM, Lockheed-Martin, Medtronic, Fastenal, Federated Insurance, Epic Systems, Rockwell-Collins, and many, many other companies. Our graduates are working coast to coast and around the world.

There is no doubt that you can learn some programming skills in 19 weeks and maybe even find a job using those skills. A student in the program claims the graduates of their program are junior web developers. A Luther Computer Science graduate has been exposed to the bigger picture and understands how quickly the field changes. Luther CS graduates have the skills to teach themselves and adapt with the field. It's not clear that those with 19 weeks of experience will be able to adapt in the same way.

I think everyone should learn to program a computer, and I congratulate those in the interview that are taking that initiative. But, wouldn't it be great to attend a college where you can learn the skills you need to stay relevant in a changing tech world and not have to pay an additional $12,000 and spend another six months learning to program after college? When you factor in the lost salary that on average is costing those students $35,000 (based on an average computer programmer starting salary of $63,000 per year plus the cost of their program). Come to Luther! Graduate in four years. Study Computer Science and make a wise investment in your future!

Kent Lee

Kent Lee

Kent Lee, professor of computer science, came to Luther in 1996 having previously worked at IBM in Rochester, Minnesota, and after attending graduate school at both the University of Minnesota (while working at IBM) and the University of Iowa. Kent completed his dissertation while teaching at Luther and graduated with a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Iowa in 1999. He has written and published four textbooks through Springer Publishing. One of the latest, titled "Python Programming Fundamentals", is an introductory text in Computer Science that is being used at several colleges and universities around the world. While teaching this course, he has adopted a "flipped" teaching style where students watch the lectures outside of class and come to class to work on homework where they can get instant feedback. The teaching style has proven to be very effective and well received by students. Read more blog entries by Kent on his blog.

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  • December 5 2014 at 4:01 pm
    Brandon Croke (@Bcroke)
    Hey Kent, Thanks for writing about our program Kent! Would love for you to see it in action for yourself sometime. We really teach three core things at Dev Bootcamp. 1. web programming fundamentals through Ruby and Javascript 2. learning how to manage and work in highly collaborative teams 3. learning how to learn so you students can teach themselves new concepts in the future. It's great to hear you teach relevant concepts at Luther. We're not against CS degrees, but we know that's not the only way to learn. When you're 22 and just spent $100,000 and 4-years on a liberal arts degree, $12,000 and a few more months of learning might be a better deal than going back to school for another bachelors degree. We understand there is a lot of skepticism from folks who haven't seen what our graduates can do, but check out this blog post from one of our mentors (xGoogle engineer and creator of Rspec) who went from a skeptic to one of our most active mentors - Keep up the great work and thanks again for sharing your thoughts!
  • December 6 2014 at 10:46 am
    Kent Lee
    Brandon, Sounds like you are doing some good things for your students that realized late in their college careers what having some programming skills could mean for them. I commend you for that. My goal is to catch some of those students earlier in their careers so a bootcamp after college is not necessary. Good luck to you in your program. Again, I think the students in your program that are taking the extra initiative to learn to program should be congratulated. -- Kent

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