WashU expands partnership with LaunchCode for Summer of Code

St. Louisans who are seeking to learn how to code have the perfect opportunity this summer through LaunchCode's new program dubbed the Summer of Code.

LaunchCode, a St. Louis-based non-profit organization co-founded by Engineering alumnus Jim McKelvey, provides free coding courses and training for those looking for a career in technology. In its first year, more than 1,000 people used its mentoring and education programs to advance their careers. More than 80 percent of them did not have a degree in computer science, and 90 percent had no prior programming experience. President Barack Obama recognized the program for helping to solve the nation's tech talent gap as part of the White House's TechHire initiative.

To expand on the highly popular program, LaunchCode's Summer of Code will offer four 20-week coding courses at various locations throughout the St. Louis metro area to make the program more accessible to about 300 students.

WashU's School of Engineering & Applied Science will host one of the classes, using the curriculum of CS 131, an introductory computer science course developed by Ron Cytron, professor of computer science, and the largest course taught at WashU. The course at WashU will be held on Mondays and Thursdays from 5:30-8:30 p.m. in Urbauer Hall, Room 222. Undergraduate computer science students will serve as teaching assistants for the WashU course.

Other evening courses will be taught in partnership with Harris-Stowe State University in St. Louis and OPO Start Ups in St. Charles, Mo. A daytime course also will be offered at LaunchCode's Mentor Center in St. Louis.

In addition to the six hours a week spent in class, students are expected to commit a minimum of 10-15 hours a week outside of the class in an apprenticeship. All students will have free access to LaunchCode's Mentor Center.

The School of Engineering & Applied Science and University College in Arts & Sciences first teamed with LaunchCode in January when they offered a free 16-week basic coding class called CS50x. University College administered the course, which was taught by Douglas Shook, an alumnus and instructor in the Department of Computer Science & Engineering. Undergraduate Engineering students were mentors for the course.