Holberton Students Win Globant Escape Game Challenge

With a meteorite close to reaching planet Earth, Jimmer Hernandez and Johan David Muñoz of the Bogotá campus had to solve four online challenges in order to save the world!

These two students were the first out of 1,000 teams around the world to “abandon the Room” in the The Great Mission, Globant Escape Game Challenge! Because they were named the winners, Jimmer and Johan will be sent to Globant’s Converge 2020 in New York City, where they will network with some of the world top tech employers and influencers!

“The Great Mission’ is this year’s version of Globant’s Escape Game initiative, designed to engage the brightest minds in a fun, challenging and creative scenario to test and refine their mathematical and problem-solving skills,” said Andrés Giolito, Country Manager of Globant Colombia. “The first team that abandoned the Room was team ELECTROS, from Holberton School Bogotá. They were selected among 1,000 couples that participated in this initiative.”

And this isn’t the first time that Holberton students have fought to combat meteorites! In 2016, Sravanthi Sinha was accepted into one of the most prestigious engineering internships in the world, NASA’s Frontier Development Lab with the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California. The interns gathered from around the world from top universities such as U.C. Berkeley and Cambridge, teamed up to help NASA plan for a potential cosmic Armageddon, an asteroid strike on earth.

We are so excited for these two brilliant students for the work they put into this challenge. This win is further proof that the Holberton curriculum is paying off and that our students are able to think critically. They are able to think outside the box because they have been taught to learn.

Jimmer Hernandez and Johan David Muñoz

“We were students of electronic engineering in our seventh semester at the national university of Colombia when we decided to join Holberton,” said Hernandez and Muñoz. “We found Holberton an excellent complement to our career because it allowed us to practice our engineering skills on a daily basis with high-level challenges and allowed us to learn soft skills interacting with professionals from all areas of knowledge. These helped us keep our minds sharp and fit for the challenges that we have been presented with throughout 2020, especially the Globant challenge, which we managed to win and now we can begin to know the world. Thanks to the prize.”

Congratulations to you two! We expect to see many more great things from both of you and can’t wait to see where the future leads you.

Education Shouldn’t Miss a Beat, Holberton Goes Online

The novel coronavirus pandemic has turned our world upside down. Wanting our students to keep their momentum and continue their journey to become software engineers, yet not wanting to risk their health, we adapted the Holberton curriculum to be done remotely for all our campuses around the world: Colombia, US, Lebanon, and Tunisia.

We were in a unique position to do this quickly because the Holberton education methodology is based on two main pillars: our software and a global community. 

Our software provides students the projects and guidance they need to get started, it also provides students instant feedback of their work; using a proprietary system that provides a highly detailed analysis and correction of their work. As of today, it is analyzing more than 10M lines of code per week. And all of this is delivered online.

Our community has multiple layers – students, alumni, staff, and professional advisors – which are in cohorts, schools, cities, and countries around the world. While a large part of the interactions typically happens in person, the students are also connected globally via internal chat via Slack.

But a central part of the Holberton mission is to get students trained on soft-skills like public speaking, teamwork, and interview practice. As much as we like in-person interaction, the current situation led us to put in place video meetings and increase the frequency of webinars and live-coding sessions accessible on our intranet to accommodate those needs. In the grand scheme of things, this also has the advantage of training students for the future of work, which will increasingly move online – our world is becoming distributed, and borderless.

Live streaming coding for students available internationally

We are in this together. While we can’t be together in person because of COVID-19, we are together virtually. Nothing can come in the way of our education and our community.

While the transition from offline to online was smooth on our side, we understand that a lot of fellow post-secondary organizations might be struggling to do it. We are happy to share our learnings and assist in any way we can, contact us here. Stay safe!

Welcome Holberton Puerto Rico!

Holberton School is coming to San Juan, Puerto Rico!

Even though the island was recently rocked by Hurricane Maria and a devastating magnitude 4.3 earthquake. Puerto Rico is growing a vibrant tech startup ecosystem and a community of entrepreneurs. Leading to a high demand for highly skilled software engineers that the local pool of talent cannot meet. According to a recent study by Endeavor Puerto Rico, founders of local tech firms reported that access to talent is their biggest obstacle. Co-founders Cyril Meduña and Adam Beguelin are bringing Holberton Puerto Rico as they have been witnessing the high demand.

“Human talent is everything. If we cannot retain talent or produce software programmers at the same pace as the industry grows, we cannot put Puerto Rico in a competitive position in the field of innovation and technology, ”said Meduña. “That is why after collaborating with the arrival of Parallel18 in Puerto Rico, a technology business accelerator, we were in need of creating a venture capital fund, and now an educational institution that produces the human talent that you are companies need to hire to be able to grow and compete worldwide.”

Holberton Puerto Rico campus Director Verónica Colón-Rosario, Holberton Co-founder & President Sylvain Kalache, Holberton Trustee Ne-Yo

Holberton School San Francisco, operating since 2016, has trained hundreds of students including Puerto Rican. “Learning coding made a significant impact on my life, it took me from a small town in Illinois to the heart of Silicon Valley and now Puerto Rico,” said Beguelin, a successful Silicon Valley entrepreneur who has launched four technology startups. “My goal for opening Holberton Puerto Rico is to make that option viable for everyone, regardless of their financial situation.”

The new Puerto Rico campus, led by Verónica Colón-Rosario, is planning on opening its doors to its first cohort of students in June. Applications are open, apply now!

Black History Month #2: Those making history today.

Black History Month is an important reminder of all the contributions that African American and Black citizens have made to the history and culture of the United States, and for our first post in this series, we highlighted some of the tech innovators and leaders who fundamentally changed tech, saved lives, and were scientific and social pioneers. To continue in this series, today we’d like to highlight the people who are making huge changes in the face of tech today.



Kimberly Bryant and Black Girls Code

It takes a special kind of person to stand up and change the world. It takes an even more special person to cash out a 401K to help support other peoples’ children to get education in tech. Kimberly Bryant, the founder of Black Girls Code, has dedicated herself to getting more young women of color into tech, and she’s making incredible progress. In 2015, there were just 5,000 CS majors who identified as Black and female in the US. In contrast, since the founding of Black Girls Code, they have helped over 14,000 young Black women take their first steps into tech and becoming software engineers. And the organization continues to look forward: They want to train over 1,000,000 young Black women to enter tech by 2040; a goal we know they can achieve.

Ne-Yo

Songwriter. Producer. Actor. Grammy winning singer. Education Philanthropist. Ne-Yo, born Shaffer Chimere Smith, is an advocate for increasing access to education in disadvantaged communities as well as many other positive causes: He’s listed as supporting over 21 charities and foundations! Here at Holberton, Ne-Yo goes a step further and is one of our trustees. As a result, his input, guidance, and leadership helps us make real changes in people’s lives.. In his own words,

“I want to introduce people to innovations that can help them reach their goals or otherwise improve their lives. I care a lot about expanding access to technology for groups that have been largely left out by the technology revolution. My involvement in Holberton supports that goal.”


Here at Holberton, he has helped us become a better program and help even more people with no prior tech experience; a goal driven by his own experience of growing up in an area that had limited access to tech resources. His support helps us offer a curriculum that requires no prior software engineering experience and trains people in both the knowledge, and the learning skills, to help them maintain a lifetime career in tech.

Hidden Genius Project

To push the representation envelope forward, it takes a realization of the human potential. Not only the realization that all of us are capable of success, but also in providing the catalyst that helps people realize internally that they can be a part of the future of tech. The Hidden Genius Project in Oakland is hard at work doing just that.

They provide two different programs to support Black males stepping into tech:

  • Immersion: A 15 month mentorship program that focuses on teaching high school aged Black males coding experience, entrepreneurship, and leadership skills.
  • Catalyst: Single and multi-day events designed specifically to help introduce young men into programming as a life path, the options that are available to them, and introducing them to mentors who can help them grow professionally.
Image result for hidden genius project

And best of all, they provide their services, introduction to tech, and access to mentors, for free and are currently running programs both in the San Francisco bay area and Los Angeles. Through their approach of giving opportunity and awareness of tech careers to young Black men, Hidden Genius Project is making a huge impact in young people’s lives, and hopefully soon, a huge impact in the demographics of the tech industry overall.

BAYCAT

Unlike the other organizations and leaders here, BAYCAT is not dedicated in getting young people of color into tech. BAYCAT is an organization hard at work in getting more representation into professional arts and media. From their own site, while 40% of the US population is people of color, less than 13% of the film directors are PoC. And even though women make up ~50% of the US population, less than 12% are creative directors. BAYCAT has recognized this, and they’re hard at work in solving representation in the professional creative arts.

Their program brings young people of color and women into the field of media creation through two programs. One is a series of free digital media classes that’s offered after school and through the summer for 11-17 year olds. They also offer a Paid Internship program, where students 18-25 can be trained with practical, hands on media production skills in an internship environment.

Through their hard work, BAYCAT is doing their part to expand academic opportunities to more people with careers in skilled, rewarding roles. And they’re showing amazing results: Iman Rodney, a Black student of BAYCAT who is now working for the San Francisco Giants, won his first (of several!) Emmys at the age of 25.

Black and African-American history continues to be made today. And it’s because of dreamers, innovators, leaders, and doers (just like the ones we highlighted in this post) doing what they do best: They’re using their talent, vision, and passion to make a better world. Thank you, and keep doing what you are doing: You are all making real changes in people’s futures.

Welcome, Bienvenido, Bienvenu, أهلا بك to Holberton!

Today we’d like to welcome our newest worldwide cohorts and also celebrate our 1,000th enrolled student. Our family continues to grow! Three hundred and fifty new students started their Holberton journey across eight campuses in four countries – bringing the total count of enrolled students to 1,200. 

Thanks to our digital, project-based curriculum, every cohort across the world can access the exact same quality education. And because students share the same calendar, learn the exact same material, and have access to our global Slack community, our students can collaborate globally as easily as they could collaborate locally. And with students on 3 continents, there is almost always someone up and ready to learn with their peers.

And our Checker never sleeps either.  Checker, our automated code validation system, gives students near-instant feedback on their coding projects. Checker not only validates the code works as intended, but it also checks for documentation, how well edge cases are handled, how optimized the code is, validates academic integrity of the students’ work, and if the code follows our strict style guide. As of last June, the Checker was reviewing 10 millions lines of code.  We estimate it would take more than 600+ instructors to provide the same volume and value of correction. Passing this thousand-enrolled-students threshold means more work for our dear Checker!

So please join me on welcoming Cohort 11! Welcome, Bienvenidos, Bienvenu, أهلا بك to Holberton

Black History Month #1: Historic Innovators in Tech

Here at Holberton School we strive to improve the diversity and representation of everyone in tech, and for Black History Month, we will be highlighting the tech contributions and innovations that were driven by African American innovators. From the earliest days of our nation to the modern computing era, the innovations of Black engineers and leaders have pushed technology forward, saved lives, and set the stage for many of the technologies we rely on for today.

And make sure to stay tuned to our next blog post, where we will highlight organizations that are working hard today to encourage more young Black and African American people to step into the tech roles of tomorrow!


Granville Woods 

Born just a few years before the Civil War, Granville was a self-taught mechanical and electrical engineer who developed nearly 60 patents in his lifetime. One of his most famous patents, the “Multiplex telegraph”, or a system that allowed trains to communicate with train stations by both voice and telegraph, increasing safety throughout the railroads and by allowing telegraphs to also be sent from trains on the move. Not only did this patent both improve safety and utility, but Granville was able to successfully defend two attempts by Thomas Edison to claim his patent. Unable to secure the patent through legal means, Thomas Edison offered him a job, which Granville declined.

Frank Greene

One of the first Black men to graduate from Washington University in St Louis, an Air Force Captain, a PhD in Electrical Engineering, and semiconductor designer, he was one of the first people to crack open the color barrier in the 1960’s Silicon Valley. Among his innovations is the patent for the fastest memory chip of the 1970s, and the development of NewVista Capital in 1986, which helped launch many startups with an emphasis on supporting women and minority led startups.

Valerie Thomas

A scientist and astronomer, she bucked the trend of young women not being encouraged to step into STEM roles. Self-taught in her youth, she kicked off her path by checking out the book The Boys First Book on Electronics when she was 8 years old. And in her time at Morgan State University, she was one of two women who were majoring in Physics. From there, she went on to NASA, where she worked on everything from the LANDSAT image processing program to her patent for a 3D “Illusion Transmitter”, which is a unique system of mirrors that can project the illusion of a 3D object in space, and this technology continues to be used by NASA today.

Jerry Lawson

It’s hard to imagine a single idea that would become the ubiquitous tech for a hundred billion dollar industry, but Jerry Lawson was the first person to invent a video game cartridge. Previously, games would either run on dedicated devices or launched computer code, but Jerry was the first person to come up with a scalable, easy to use way for people to switch between software using a removable cartridge with programmed chips. Part of the Fairchild Channel F home console, his game cartridge allowed home users to swap out games without risk of being shocked, which fundamentally changed the concept of how people bought and played video games. While the Fairchild Channel F was not a commercial success, the Atari 2600, which came out the following year, used this same cartridge technology and the rest is gaming history.

Melba Roy Mouton

Just like the other women featured in the amazing movie Hidden Figures, Melba was a mathematician who worked at NASA to calculate out the complex trajectories of objects in space. Later in her career she became Head Computer Programmer, then Program Production Chief at the Goddard Space Flight Center. For her work at NASA she would also receive an Apollo Achievement Award and an Exceptional Performance Reward; both a testament to her incredible contribution to technology and space flight.

By no means is this an exhaustive list of Black and African American tech leaders: Black and African Americans have been at the forefront of technological innovation despite systemic violence (Granville Woods was physically assaulted by the employees of a railroad while traveling as a ticketed customer) or systematic oppression (Annie Easley, another Black female scientist at NASA, also worked to help other Black people prepare for the Jim Crow literacy tests designed to restrict African American voting rights). And while this history exists as part of our nation, it’s up to everyone to help us work towards a tomorrow where people of all races and backgrounds have a fair and equitable chance to be a part of our new high tech economy.

Stay tuned for our upcoming part 2, where we will look at organizations that are continuing to work hard to improve representation of Black and African American people in the world of tech!

Welcoming Florian Bucher as Holberton COO

Yesterday, we announced the addition of two new campus managers (in Tulsa, OK, and Barranquilla, Colombia) as well as a new Chief Operating Officer (COO), Florian Bucher.

Florian Bucher at our San Francisco campus

COO is actually a brand new position for Holberton. As we continue to execute on our mission of providing high-quality education to the many and serving an ever-growing community – that became international since last year – it was time to find someone to help us manage all this activity. For instance, did you know our students pushed nearly 7 million lines of code to Github, and are landing amazing jobs at companies like Airbnb, Rappi, and Pinterest…… And may also be some of the most cheerful software engineers you could bring into your company?

Florian Bucher is not new to coding – or to education, or even progressive education for that matter! He co-founded the French coding school Ecole 42, a network of non-profit international schools teaching software engineering using peer-based education. Bucher also comes with strong technical expertise including serving as CTO of IONIS, one of Europe’s largest networks of post-secondary schools which includes the prestigious EPITA and EPITECH school. He also previously worked as a Telecom engineer and an IT manager at EDIS, Thomson Telecom, Cirpack, and Wengo.

Florian loves helping people, he volunteered at the Red Cross by night to encourage homeless people to sleep in available dormitories. As he witnessed injuries among the homeless, and had to learn how to provide basic care, he eventually wanted to find even more ways to help his community – he has now served as a volunteer firefighter for over 10 years!

In his own words:

“I have seen how few qualified software engineers there are worldwide relative to demand. For years, I’ve devoted my life to the advancement of project-based education, which I believe has the potential to address this very real workforce challenge. I am excited to bring my years of experience in this field to Holberton School, where we’re training the next generation of highly qualified, diverse, and compassionate software engineers.”

Join me in welcoming Florian Bucher as Holberton School’s new COO!

Update on California BPPE Notice

On February 4, 2020, we at Holberton received a modified decision from the California Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA), the parent organization of the California BPPE. The department determined that the application of the BPPE’s original emergency action over our San Francisco campus was not necessary and stated that we may continue to enroll students. The one exception is the Career Track program module for which the DCA is mandating that we cease operations. As Holberton has maintained throughout, we have worked with the California BPPE to obtain our license in good faith.

We developed Career Track in response to requests from our students who wanted to launch their careers and start earning money before graduating. Given how many students come to Holberton from disadvantaged backgrounds, we understood their desire to earn money before the end of our 18-month program. We had created this “Career Track” optional module to enable them, if desired, to graduate while learning on the job. While the Career Track module was submitted to the BPPE, the Bureau feels that the module has not been fully vetted through all necessary BPPE processes. Despite what we believe have been positive student outcomes from the Career Track module, we are now withdrawing Career Track from our program for the time being. We will be in touch with students currently enrolled or previously enrolled in Career Track to discuss next steps as we set out to serve their needs without this module.

We have always strived to create an education that serves our students, partners and community well. Just as we are committed to continuing to coordinate with the BPPE to ensure that we are complying with applicable California laws and regulations, we also remain fully committed to our mission to provide a world-class engineering education regardless of background or ability to pay.

We believe that transparency and trust are critical. We will continue to keep you updated as we learn more.

By the Numbers, 7 Million Lines of Code in 2019

As we enter 2020, a year away from starting a new decade (unfortunately historians don’t count starting at 0 as software engineers do 😎) we wanted to take some time to see what our students’ community achieved in 2019.

At Holberton, we believe that one can become a great software engineer by writing code (after all, how do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice). Our students learn by doing – writing code, collaborating with others – just like in any company writing software. And the data shows that it works! With students on 3 continents, and nearly 7 million lines of code pushed, the numbers look quite impressive:

Lots of projects were started – with 1,788 “First commit” and 1,652 “Initial commit” git commit messages – many bugs were fixed – with 1,042 “Fix” messages and 954 “commit” messages – and our students always made sure to document their work – with 930 “Update README.md”. We can clearly see this journey of a thousand miles in the commit messages!

When Holberton students enter the workforce, they are ready on day one to contribute and ship features! They have been hired by top-tier employers: in San Francisco, companies such as Apple, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google. In New Haven, companies like Sikorsky and Lockheed Martin, and in Bogotá, they have started at Torre, Platzi, and Rappi.

We began 2019 with a single campus in San Francisco and opened a campus in New Haven, Connecticut in January 2019. Then in quick succession, we added campuses in Bogotá, Medellín, and Cali, Colombia, and Tunis, Tunisia. Our code checker was already hard at work; by last April, it was already checking 10 million lines of code per week, so it looks like even more work will be coming for it! 2019 was a productive year for our students, and 2020 will only get better.

Holberton’s Response to the California BPPE Notice

On Saturday, we at Holberton School reviewed a notification of concerns raised by the Sacramento-based California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE) regarding our San Francisco campus. 

We created Holberton to take an innovative approach to engineering education. We believe that a world-class education should be accessible to everyone, regardless of educational background, gender, race or ability to pay. Forty-four million Americans are digging themselves out from nearly $1.6 trillion in student debt (as reported by CNBC). As the Editorial Board of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote last year, 3.8 million California residents alone owe $134.3 billion in student loan debt. Holberton has sought to create a different kind of school that promotes (rather than impedes) social mobility.

This massive debt burdening California residents seeking greater professional opportunities through education has made the technical post-secondary education market ripe for disruption for quite some time. We understand from the news that other first wave innovators in engineering education, like Lambda School, have also been subject to BPPE enforcement activity

We respect and value the BPPE’s mission to protect students as consumers in California’s private postsecondary educational institutions. We have been working with the BPPE and responding to their questions throughout the licensing process over the last few years. We look forward to the opportunity to more fully explain our innovative program to them. We have historically had a collaborative relationship with regulators and are eager to fully cooperate with the BPPE so that we can allay their concerns and focus on our core mission of democratizing access to world-class engineering education.

Out of respect for the BPPE’s process, we are limiting our public comment on this matter as we focus on ensuring that Holberton is cooperating fully with the BPPE and continuing to serve the students who depend on us. We look forward to engaging in broader conversations around both innovation in education and financial inclusion.