North Hennepin CC delivers on mobile education

by Rob Weber

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North Hennepin Community College mobile coursesLast year, North Hennepin Community College computer science faculty asked me what my employment needs were as a Minnesota technology business owner and employer of computer science graduates.

I told them that we need to see more graduates trained in emerging technology fields such as mobile application development, explaining that companies like ours have been experiencing huge shortages in this type of talent despite massive industry growth – causing us to outsource high-tech jobs to a small number of qualified job seekers from other states and countries.

They asked. I answered. They delivered.

NHCC recently launched two new courses on mobile app development: Objective-C for Mobile Programming and Introduction to Mobile Programming in iOS. To date, North Hennepin is one of three colleges in Minnesota (+U of M)  that I know of to offer accredited mobile development courses, which are now open for fall registration ($736/each + books).

The courses are designed for those who have a computer programming background but who want to develop mobile applications for Apple’s iOS. They are open to current computer science students and working professionals. Students will do their work on iPads and iPod Touches – creating the ultimate hands-on learning experience.

Before I co-founded W3i, my two brothers and I attended North Hennepin Community College while enrolled at Osseo Senior High School. This was back in the mid-nineties as part of the state’s post-secondary enrollment option program (PSEO)- a program that continues to thrive.

If it wasn’t for North Hennepin Community College and the PSEO program, we would not have been able to afford to go to college and we wouldn’t have had access to the state-of-the-art computer lab that helped us launch our company when we were teenagers.

North Hennepin has a big vision. If this pilot program takes off, they are committed to expanding the program to Android, and other platforms. Contact Tatyana Volk ( tvolk@nhcc.edu ) to participate, refer, volunteer or otherwise donate resources.

Supporting leading local colleges like North Hennepin Community College can go a long way in preparing our students for tech careers – a key ingredient for the long term growth and success of the Minnesota technology community.

Comments

  • http://www.facebook.com/aaronweber Aaron Weber

    Wow, this is great news!  I am Rob’s brother Aaron.  I was not aware of this NHCC initiative.  I am very impressed they implemented the two classes.

    I am working on my second start up and Objective-C developers are in short supply.  In the past we have trained people in house, but that takes too long.  My new startup (Inveni.com) will be hiring in the next 6-12 months Objective-C developers.  We will also be hiring android developers.

    Hopefully people take advantage of this opportunity NHCC is offering and help fill the shortage of good mobile developers.

    • Ryan Weber

      Great job NHCC!  Nice post Rob on getting this exposure.  I am Rob’s twin brother Ryan and another NHCC alum.  I went on to SCSU where I graduated with a CSCI degree.  Next week, meeting with the department chair for CSCI at SCSU and going to see if he will take note and match NHCC’s lead on developing a program.  There cannot be enough.  I am hoping the state universities invest heavily in web-data mining/data science too.  That is even worst than mobile developers in our state!

  • http://twitter.com/AndrewKorf Andrew Korf

    I heard today from Earnest Grumbles at MOJO MN that Minnesota has 100,000 open developer positions currently, smart move by NHCC. Good for them and Minnesota.

    • http://tech.mn Jeff Pesek

      Spelling: Ernest

      That is quite the number…source?

  • Lee Olsen

    The most difficult part of being a developer is getting your first couple of years experience. Every job posting is looking for people with 3+ years of experience. This is an opportunity to put something on your resume that a lot of other developers will not have and thus separate yourself from the pack. Also, with mobile development still being in its infancy, the experience gap is much smaller in this discipline than in others. To all of you looking to get your start, take advantage of these classes.

    • http://twitter.com/robertjweber Rob Weber

      Very interesting perspective Lee. I’d like to explore this “experience gap” problem a bit further. How can tech employers and local tech educators work together to eliminate this gap so we don’t end up outsourcing all tech jobs overseas over the next couple of decades?

      • Lee Olsen

         Here is a perfect example. Just saw a posting today with this comment: “Hands-on code development experience using C# and ASP.NET — a minimum
        of 2+ years for the entry-level position and a minimum of 5+ years for
        the more senior position”

        How does entry-level = 2+ years of experience? I think they need to look entry level up in the dictionary.

        • http://twitter.com/robertjweber Rob Weber

          Haha! Yeah. This makes no sense.

          My mission over the next year outside of W3i is to identify a way to close this gap.  

  • http://twitter.com/akardell Aaron Kardell

    Fantastic news. Too many higher ed programs around the state 

    • http://twitter.com/robertjweber Rob Weber

      Aaron- Perhaps you could swing by one night during their classes and offer some mentoring services? Brooklyn Park isn’t too far from us.

  • Björn Stansvik

    Thanks for highlighting this Rob. The better the feedback loop between academia and business, the more effective our economy becomes, all leading to a virtuous circle, macro-economically speaking. I’m sometimes flabbergasted by the monuments erected in the name of higher ed (whether hospitals, halls or arenas) and share your sentiment that it seems the humbler approach taken by community colleges may be more effective (see the Economist article: http://www.economist.com/node/21553476).

    About a year ago we too were contacted on this topic by Dakota County Technical College (DCTC), an Eagan-based community college, asking us as practitioners of mobile application development since 2001 to design and teach curriculum on this topic. Unfortunately the DCTC initiative leader left DCTC to start the Social Media Institute and it never got off the ground; great to see NHCC support your idea.

    However, we did adopt a school and donated developer time to help autistic kids learn how to build apps which helps them gain marketable skills (http://mentormate.com/blog/mentormate-lends-hand-mn-governors-adopt-school-initiative/) and we built our own Mobile Academy producing mobile developers en masse in a 90-day boot camp style by providing salaries (as opposed to tuition fees), classrooms, curriculum, teachers, projects, certification standards and a career upon graduation in a repeatable scalable fashion – simply because colleges have a little catching up to do before the demand is met over the next 3-7 years.

    Being from another country with dual-citizenship, I’ve tended to disregard borders (sometimes to the point of traveling without a valid passport – I don’t recommend that though!) so it seems that on the global scale, increasing the common good by giving people all around the world a stake in their future is a pay forward strategy from which we, our children, and our grand children will reap the benefits (I believe people with a career are less likely to blow themselves up). I’ve served on the IT steering committee of Century College (another large community college) and together with Century College helped deliver ethics training for Fairview hospital interpreters on our Palm Pilot app back in the day.

    Regarding outsourcing high-tech jobs to other countries, as a MN-based company, we want Minnesota to be a leader in mobile computing for business thereby creating more wealth through innovation of which W3i is one of the best examples of in Minnesota and nationally. Supporting mobile application development globally has obviously benefitted both Minnesota and the larger world we live in. So along with local community colleges, supporting high-tech jobs globally is worthy endeavor that warrants consideration as well.

    Finally and as you know, to do our part, we founded and are funding MobCon, http://mobcon.com a separate organization to provide a framework and collaborative setting to share knowledge and best practices in mobile business, strategy and technology for the Upper Midwest. We’re inviting and showcasing all examples we can fit of best practices including our competition. In the big picture, wherever we can get effective education tailored to real business needs, society is better off. So along with local community colleges, supporting high-tech jobs globally is “a” worthy endeavor that warrants consideration as well.

    All the Best,

    Björn

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