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Omaha Code School opens Star City Code School in Lincoln

Omaha Code School is expanding its world-class education program to Nebraska’s capital city. The Omaha Code School (OCS) has had a successful first two years in the community. Now OCS is expanding into the Lincoln market with the Star City Code School (SCCS). SPN sat down with Sumeet Jain and Andrew Ek to learn more. So why Lincoln?…

OmahaCodeSchool_featured
OmahaCodeSchool_featured

Budding developers go heads down at the Omaha Code School near downtown Omaha. Photo courtesy of Omaha Code School.

Omaha Code School is expanding its world-class education program to Nebraska’s capital city.

The Omaha Code School (OCS) has had a successful first two years in the community. Now OCS is expanding into the Lincoln market with the Star City Code School (SCCS). SPN sat down with Sumeet Jain and Andrew Ek to learn more.

So why Lincoln?

“Some of it was recognizing that OCS is very Omaha-centric, even though we get inquiries and some students from Lincoln,” Ek said. “Lincoln has a lot of exciting things going on, and we see an opportunity.”

Jain said the Lincoln expansion has been in the works for awhile.

“Expanding into Lincoln was on our minds conceptually, and we knew FUSE Coworking was planning a collaboration so we started talking early last year,” he said.

A decision by Ek and his wife to move back to Lincoln was also a factor.

“Teaching a course there seemed like a thing worth trying,” he said.

A calculated move

Moving into a new market is not something OCS leadership takes lightly.

“We’ve turned down other opportunities for expansion in places like Minneapolis and Kansas City, and there has been interest in franchising from the coasts,” Jain said.

They have had to make decisions about the kind of growth they really want based on their values.

“We focus on quality,” he said. “A job worth doing should be done well, and when we move into Lincoln, they know quality is associated.”

SCCS will be moving into the new FUSE Coworking space in the Lincoln Haymarket, developed through a partnership with Nelnet and Speedway Properties. Companies like Hudl, Nebraska Global and the NMotion accelerator will also have teams in the vicinity.

“Having these companies in the building and in the community was certainly an attractive factor,” Ek said. “Those are folks that would like to hire our students after they graduate.”

How has the response been from prospective students?

“We’re getting a decent response so far,” Ek said. “We’re still somewhat of an unknown quantity in Lincoln. FUSE is promoting us, and we’re planning some informational sessions.”

It will help that the plan is to start small.

“The Lincoln course has a hard cap of 12 compared to the 16 – 20 we normally have in the Omaha class,” Ek said. “We want to start off really strongly and improve from there. We’re not trying to get in as many folks as we can.”

A focus on software fundamentals

Like OCS, SCCS will focus on turning out employable graduates. “We’re really shooting for having the best learning outcomes and most competent students of any code school in the country,” Ek said.

One way they hope to accomplish that goal is using trained educators, and not just tech-savvy professionals, as instructors.

“One of the things I’m very proud of that separates us from other code schools is our focus on instruction,” Jain said. “Code schools by and large are founded by coders who hope they can learn to teach. I mean, how hard can it be? It’s foolhardy and insulting to imply there’s nothing special about being a teacher.”

Ek, who will be teaching the initial class in Lincoln, is a trained and credentialed educator who has taught a variety of subjects – including coding – at various educational levels.

“I’ve taught almost every subject to every age group,” he said.

Jain said the core curriculum will focus on fundamentals and algorithmic thinking.

“We’re teaching engineering as a practice, separate from coding vocabulary,” said Jain.

That provides graduates with the ability to think across different platforms.

“Over half our graduates will be working with a tech stack other than what we use in class,” Ek said. “That reinforces our emphasis on fundamentals. It’s not enough to just know the magic words.”

SCCS will also place an emphasis on diversity.

“Thus far, our students demographically are much closer to representing the city than the tech community at large,” Ek said.

A schedule of informational sessions can be found on the SCCS site. Prep work for the first Lincoln class will begin in early February, and sessions start March 14.

Rod Armstrong is Vice President of Strategic Partnerships for AIM in Lincoln, Nebraska. He is a regular contributor to Silicon Prairie News.

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