Students earn Gold Badge in coding through Smart Launch Tech

Smart Launch

INDIANAPOLIS – Independent Colleges of Indiana and Eleven Fifty Academy have partnered to create Smart Launch Tech – a coding program for liberal arts students. The first cohort of students from ICI private colleges completed the inaugural program on June 30, each earning the industry- and state-recognized Gold Badge Certification from Eleven Fifty, located at Launch Fishers. 

Trine University’s Clare Danner and Brett Mullenix, who both study communications, learned the basics of HTML, CSS and Java Script in a four-week boot camp held on the campus of Marian University in June along with 13 other ICI students. They completed assignments demonstrating badge competencies and compiled an e-portfolio, presented at the end of the program.

Mullenix, a junior from Greentown, said he recently changed his major to communications from electrical engineering.

“When I switched over to communications, my advisor knew I enjoyed technology and wanted to focus on that aspect,” he said. “When this opportunity appeared I happily accepted the chance to do more coding.”

Danner, a junior from Indianapolis, said her only previous coding experience was in a web design class during her senior year of high school.

“I wasn’t very good at it then, so I was interested to see if I’d be able to pick it up better now that I was older,” she said. “After the second day of the program, I was prepared to quit. I felt like I was VERY far behind my classmates, especially since the table at which I was placed had two non-liberal arts majors (a management of information systems major and a computer science major). However, I decided to stick it out – and I’m definitely glad I did. If I’d been told on the second day of the program that I’d have a fully functioning online portfolio by the last day, I wouldn’t have believed it for a second! This class taught me that I’m capable of more than I think.”

In addition to coding, students were exposed to the wide range of career possibilities within the tech field, including project and marketing management, data analysis, compliance, security, and design. The students made field trips to Indianapolis tech businesses, speaking with their leaders and employees and gaining exposure to the tech working environment and protocols. Students also had the opportunity to interact with the the Indy Tech Fellows, new grads in a two-year Tech Point program to place talent with leading companies, fast tracking careers and contributing to the Indianapolis community.

“The best thing about these speakers was that all of them had liberal arts backgrounds,” Danner said. “We had individuals from Angie’s List, Kinney Group, High Alpha, ICI and Eleven Fifty Academy present to us. My favorite part about the program was making these connections.”

“It opened my eyes to what I can possibly do in the tech field,” Mullenix said. “It was awesome and I would recommend anyone who has any interest in technology to do this. The experience and exposure was far greater than I anticipated.”

Smart Tech Launch was created to marry the technical skills of coding with the problem-solving approach of a liberal arts education. “Technology alone is not enough,” Apple founder Steve Jobs said. “It’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields results that makes our hearts sing.”

ICI, a nonprofit association representing the 30 private, nonprofit colleges and universities in the Hoosier state, and Eleven Fifty Academy, a nonprofit dedicated to producing technology and talent, provided the funding and in-kind services for this summer’s proof-of-concept pilot. Sustainability planning is now underway.

Photos: Clare Danner, left, and Brett Mullenix each present their portfolio at the end of Smart Launch Tech.