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Education Programming

How St. Louis Is Bootstrapping Hundreds of Programmers 147

itwbennett writes "The MOOC (massive open online course) failure rate is notoriously high — only 1% of people who take the beginning computer science programming class, CS50, that Harvard offers over the EdX online platform complete it. A new effort in St. Louis called LaunchCode is changing that — and solving the city's programmer shortage. For the past several weeks, about 300 hardy souls have been gathering in a downtown St. Louis library to listen to the CS50 lectures and work together on the various programming problem sets. But the support offered by the all-volunteer run LaunchCode doesn't end with meet space. They're also doing an end-around on the traditional coder hiring process by pairing the students who complete the course with experienced programmers in one of more than a 100 tech companies who are looking for talent."
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How St. Louis Is Bootstrapping Hundreds of Programmers

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  • by bobaferret ( 513897 ) on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @11:32AM (#46464415)

    For one, this is the midwest. The pay isn't nearly as attractive as the coasts. And if you move away from the STL area it gets even worse. We have a very hard time down in Southern IL finding programmers. Everyone wants to go to the Valley, and make a fortune writing Games or Social apps. No one WANTS to come here and write court case management software. There's no glamour in it, and the pay is meh. We also want our applicants to have some programming experience when they show up; and NO, a quicksort algorithm you did in a CS class at the local university won't cut it. Plus we have to compete for hires with companies like Yahoo and Google for the decent folks coming out of school. In your mid 20's there are not a lot of kids looking to start families and live the quiet life around here. Local companies can't compete on Money, nor Ultra Urban lifestyles around here. So there's a shortage as far as we are concerned.

  • by js3 ( 319268 ) on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @12:06PM (#46464811)

    So what you are telling me is there is a shortage because you aren't willing to market value for good programmers, but you won't take average programmers either. So what exactly is this supposed to solve? You'll just end up with a bunch of average programmers in the end anyway because the good programmers will be attracted away by market forces.

    Maybe what you need to do is increase the pay to make it a more attractive place to work.

  • It's STL (Score:3, Informative)

    by SecuritySimian ( 1150141 ) on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @12:09PM (#46464851)

    Most of the tech companies in the area treat programmers/developers (and IT as a whole) as a fossil fuel, to be immediately burned for their energy and quickly forgotten. Attitudes are slowly changing and quality of life is improving at a glacial pace. Still, it's a hard market to thrive in-- long hours, pay that is commonly bottom 25% of national medians, and special types of business people that can only be the result of inbreeding. Expect to be worked like a rented mule, especially in the health care sector.

    STL does have its gems (Enterprise RAC, Savvis, Panera, MasterCard etc.), but they're pretty difficult to get in to with all of the competition.

  • by JoeMerchant ( 803320 ) on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @04:29PM (#46468013)

    I'm taking a free MOOC right now, and I'm skipping the labs, so my grade is guaranteed to be 50%, and I don't care - for my purposes, I'm getting 80% of the learning for 20% of the time invested, and when I want to go to lab practice, I'll be doing it on my own schedule.

The absent ones are always at fault.