By Nancy Dahlberg
Miami-Dade is blessed with a number of code schools, including Ironhack, Wyncode and 4Geeks, as well as virtual offerings from General Assembly. They are all offering virtual instruction during this pandemic, but some people prefer in-person instruction. And when it’s safe to do in-person coding bootcamps again, potential code school students in Palm Beach County and northern Broward face a long commute to Miami. Until now that is.
Enter Boca Code, a new coding school easily accessible to both our counties to the north.
Founder Todd Albert (pictured above) learned to code when he was 7 and built his first arcade game as a teen. For some reason he did not pursue a career in tech, but instead he became a scientist as a NASA research fellow and then taught at in universities for 15 years, as well as at the middle school level. “And through my research and in my teaching, I was always coding.”
When Albert decided to leave teaching after moving back to South Florida in 2012, he followed his heart into tech and started a tech agency. At one point the agency had 17 developers, and Albert said finding local developers was always difficult. Most of the resumes were coming from code schools in Miami or from out of state.
That’s when Albert began noodling with the idea of starting a local code school. Then, after he has seen some schools come into Palm Beach County or northern Broward and then fail – and the mistakes they made — he took the plunge, founding Boca Code in February of this year.
“I love to code and I love to mentor young developers. And I realized — and people around me realized too — that having a code school was really not just my dream but it almost felt like that was what I was destined for. My background in teaching, in coding, in mentoring, it was all me leading towards this.”
With a code school, you’re helping people enter a good career with great earning potential, he said. Graduates can earn $60-$65k in their first job, and in just a few years it could be six figures.
But just as important: “The community is desperately needing the talent.”
Boca Code’s home – a 2,900-square-foot bright and modern space at the intersection of Palmetto and Powerline in Boca Raton — is nearly built out, but Boca Code started offering virtual intensive short courses classes this spring and summer and has offerings such as Data Analytics & Python and AR, VR and Game Development through the fall. It is in the process of obtaining its state of Florida license to teach its signature career course – a 10-week full-time bootcamp – and Boca Code expects to begin offering that in January. Boca Code also offers a number of free workshops and offers a scholarship to women.
While other code schools have tried and failed in the area, Boca Code has a few differentiators that will make it successful, Albert believes. First, Albert is not only the owner but the lead instructor, so he doesn’t have to worry about the lead instructor quitting mid- class, as happened at other schools. He also has built a very talented team who are also instructors as well as experts in sales and marketing. He and his team are also well-connected within the community.
Another key differentiator is that Boca Code students are going to be doing real projects for real companies. “So for small businesses that are just getting started, we can help develop their app or their website. The students are getting real experience and the companies are getting affordable development work. And I don’t know anyone else who is doing that.”
In addition to the 10-week bootcamp, Boca Code plans to always offer the 15-hour short courses, such as Intro to Web Dev for people who just want to dip their toe into an introductory coding course or who want to upskill in the latest technologies, like React, or learn more about UX/UI. The courses are often offered at nights and weekends to accommodate full-time employment.
This is Albert’s third time living in South Florida, and he likes what he sees: a unique and cohesive tech community. “Rather than competing and vying for talent, we’re all getting together and supporting each other as a community, which is owed in large part to South Florida Tech,” Albert said. “And when you have such a giving community it makes you want to be a part of it and it makes you want to help others. It’s contagious.”
Business: A coding academy offering short courses in web and mobile development, game development, data analytics and UX/UI. In the plans for early 2021: a 10-week career course.
Address: 7035 Beracasa Way, 207, Boca Raton
Team: Todd Albert, founder and lead instructor; Emily Cleary (pictured), lead UX instructor; Mariela Pascual, developer and instructor; Ashley Taylor, creative director; Pearse Brolly, business development, Maddie Galvelis, social marketing.
This column was first published by South Florida Tech and is republished with permission.