As the presence of technology in our lives continues to grow, so too does demand for people with the ability to code–and one local entrepreneur hopes to give Wilton kids the skills they need to stay competitive in our changing economy.
Coders play an essential role in crafting and maintaining the software we rely on, but there is a massive shortage of talented coders in the job market. If changes are not made in how coding is taught, this gap will only continue to grow.
Wilton resident Kyle Brown has experienced the problem firsthand: after decades in the tech industry, in roles ranging from software engineer to chief technology officer, he began to notice a trend.
“In the last seven or eight years of having to navigate the recruiting, hiring, and managing of engineers, it became a constant grind trying to find good people,” he says.
These experiences inspired Brown to establish the Wilton App Academy, a school which seeks to create the next generation of coders by getting kids excited about programming. “Let’s go to the source, let’s engage earlier, and let’s get them fluent in the language of computer science,” Brown says.
He believes it is necessary for students across the board to be code-literate if they want to stay relevant in the 21st-century–even for students who don’t intend to become programmers.
“Every company is now a tech company on some level–tech is where all future innovation lives.”
Not only does he want to encourage more kids to pursue the programming profession, but Brown also hopes to tackle the gender imbalance in computer science.
“Another big area of need I see is engaging women in tech,” he says. Put simply, the field is a bit of a boy’s club–according to a study by Accenture and Girls Who Code, only 18% of computer science graduates in 2014 were women.
Here too, Brown identifies the problem as rooted in early education. “We are not getting enough girls, at a young enough age, interested in computer science,” he said. He plans to partner with local organizations to bring girls into the classroom, aiming to change the culture of an industry that can seem hostile to women.
The Wilton App Academy will hold courses for students grades 4-9. The classes are designed to be both fun and informative, providing tools that will inform any future study of computer science.
“Using a proven framework designed to teach basic programming concepts, your child will progress through a series of sessions that culminate in a finished application,” Brown says in his promotional video. “We will also be offering a ‘robotics’ track, again using a proven system that teaches basic concepts and moves from there.”
Enrollment is now open for week-long summer programs in programming and robotics; after-school and weekend courses will commence in the fall. The Wilton App Academy is located in a new, custom-fitted facility at 66 Danbury Rd.. Open houses are scheduled for Saturday, June 24 and Saturday, July 8, during which prospective students and parents can see the space as well as talk to Brown. Course details and sign-ups can be found on the Wilton App Academy Facebook page.