Students building apps for Colombia’s top tech companies

As part of their first-year curriculum, Holberton Colombia Cohort 10 students will work on their final projects with Colombia’s top tech companies under the mentorship of their leading CTOs and engineering managers. Participating companies include Colombia’s unicorn Rappi, robot delivery company Kiwi, learning platform Skillshare, IoT platform Ubidots, and remote talent marketplace Torre. Each company is coming to the program with a real-world product request to serve their business needs. Students will build the product or feature on top of each company’s tech stack.

“There are two objectives for the company capstone projects. One is to let leading employers access the best technical talent for their recruiting needs. The second objective is that these multi-week, hands-on projects will give Cohort 10 programmers real-world projects completed for top-tier companies to include in their portfolios,” said Jessica Mercedes, Country Manager of Holberton Colombia.

The projects include developing the following: 

  • Crowdlending for Rappi delivery couriers so that they can finance the purchase of a motorcycle
  • An algorithm to detect the distance of moving objects for Kiwi’s autonomous vehicles while using only one camera 
  • A picture-based class recommendation engine for Skillshare
  • A computer vision solution to maintain COVID-safe distances among factory workers using the Ubidots platform
  • A web service that centralizes job opportunities and applicants across many job boards for Torre.

Students will work for six weeks under the leadership of each company’s technical management and will be expected to deliver on the same level of technical excellency as their full-time employees. Each project will be presented during the demo day taking place on June 19th. The event will be live-streamed on Facebook, so be sure to follow our page to watch!

Holberton students use their tech skills to solve COVID19-challenges

The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting all of us on so many levels – professional and personal, physical and emotional. It’s often the most trying circumstances that ignite the greatest discoveries. Like many in the tech sector, a number of Holberton students and alumni have been inspired to develop technology to help pave a path forward. We’re excited to highlight five of these projects that embody Holberton’s innovative spirit while reflecting the needs of this moment in history:

Knowing that many people are struggling to maintain a healthy routine while sheltering in place, Holberton Tunisia 🇹🇳students Yasmine Hamdi and Ahmed Omar Miladi built Yawmi. The app schedules activities based on the user’s calendar and preferences. By partnering with 3rd party platforms, Yawmi suggests online courses, fitness sessions, cooking classes, gaming, movie watching, and more. The day planner aims to develop the users’ skills and knowledge in a flexible way, mitigate mental health issues, and create a healthy lifestyle. The duo started building the app during the OMAC (One Million Arab Coders) COVID-19 hackathon. They made it to the semi-finale out of 1,260 teams – congratulations!

Darcie is a virtual assistant that helps people find the nearest social services in their neighborhood or city. Co-creators from Holberton San Francisco 🇺🇸 Akeem Seymens, and Max Stuart built this tool that works with phone and text using IBM Watson, Google Cloud, and Algolia (who provided a free Pro version of their powerful Search indexing service to support their effort). Their goal is to address COVID-19-related humanitarian issues, beginning with the mounting issue of food insecurity. While many Americans were already food insecure before the pandemic, the number has increased dramatically in recent weeks. Resources that were already strained are even more so now, and food banks are stretched beyond capacity. Partnering with feedingamerica.org, nokidhungry.org, hungerfreeamerica.org, and America’s Food Fund, the team has been collaborating to establish data gathering standards and systems to help food distributors get additional support and get resources to more people in need.

Holberton Colombia 🇨🇴students Camilo Morales, Jose Luis Diaz, Oscar Riaño Tapias, Daniel Chinome, and Giovanny Perez built EnTuBarrio. Small businesses we are suffering as shelter in place guidelines required people to stay in and prevented people from shopping. This clever team found a way to help both parties – the store and the shoppers. EnTuBarrio connects customers to their local stores so that they can buy the groceries they need. The delivery is handled by locals riding bikes or walking, making it cost-effective, fast, and environmentally friendly. All the communication currently happens over WhatsApp, but the team is working to port the app to Facebook Messenger chatbot as well.

As the COVID19 situation was unfolding, Holberton New Haven 🇺🇸students Jose Alvarez de Lugo, Stephen Ranciato and Gareth Brickman noticed that there wasn’t a place to get COVID-related data for Connecticut in a consistent and clear way. They thought we could help their state by building something quickly, so they began writing code right away and were able to deploy a website that very same day. That’s how CTCovid19.com came to be!

Spaced is a mobile app that tells users when and how to go places for necessary errands while optimizing for social distancing. It’s like Waze but for walking. Built by Holberton alumni Bobby Yang, he came up with the idea while he was attempting to walk his dog and go to the grocery store. He found there were way too many people in the park next to his house, and there was a long line at the Safeway half a mile from his house. The app leverages different open source projects like MIT’s COVID-19 Tracker and Open Routing Service, along with Foursquare’s Places API. Spaced is able to recommend specific times to go to popular locations, as well as routes to reach locations while minimizing the number of people with whom users come into contact. The data is completely anonymous, and Spaced’s code is open source and can be found here. It will soon be available for download on iPhone and Android.

Stay safe!

Holberton Students Awarded CloudNOW Scholarship

CloudNOW, the executive consortium for the leading women in cloud and converging technologies, provided scholarships to help Holberton students with their cost of living while attending the school. The scholarships are sponsored by Facebook, Google, and Intel.

Holberton San Francisco students, staff and Facebook Director Production Engineering Syamla Bandla

“As a former CloudNOW recipient, I was able to attend Holberton full time without the added stress of trying to cover my basic needs,” said Kristen Loyd, former Holberton student. “I was able to fully commit myself to becoming the best software engineer I could be and the payoff was worth it! I am now working as a software engineer and I definitely don’t think this would have been possible without the help of the CloudNOW scholarship. Congrats to this year’s recipients!”

CloudNOW’s focus is to provide STEM scholarship funds to top talent, targeting women, minorities, and underrepresented individuals, 18 years and older, who are looking for accelerated STEM training allowing for immediate tech career opportunities. CloudNOW also provides support across the career lifecycle with networking, events, speaking opportunities, mentoring, and friendship. CloudNow has been partnering with Holberton for years and past recipients are working for Change.org, Pinterest, Twitch, IBM and more.

Holberton New Haven students, staff celebrating the CloudNow scholarship

“From supporting themselves and their families to the cost of commuting or relocating closer to campus, many of our students face financial challenges related to the cost of living. Often times, this leads to students having to maintain some form of employment while enrolled, which can be an additional stressor and distraction from their studies,” said Nadine Krause, Director of Holberton School New Haven. “We are truly grateful that CloudNOW has recognized our students and their potential, providing them with the same opportunity to succeed as other scholarship recipients. Congratulations to all of our well-deserving students!”

Congratulations to the 12 students who were awarded this prestigious scholarship and we can’t wait to see what the future holds for each and every one of you!

Welcome Holberton Uruguay!

Today we’re excited to announce that we are opening a campus in Montevideo, Uruguay! This new school will be located on Uruguay Zonamerica campus, a community of  350 companies, counting 10,000 professionals which are producing 1.8% of Uruguay’s GDP. The campus features 300,000 sqm of parks & green areas and is designed for an enjoyable work experience that improves the performance of people and businesses. 

Montevideo is the capital and largest city in Uruguay. It has been declared the city with the best quality of life in Latin America. Montevideo is one of the leading cities in the region, with a vision of using technology to improve its citizen’s quality of life.

“In Uruguay we need more than 2,000 qualified software developers to help us meet the demand of the industry,” said Martín Dovat, general manager of Zonamerica and member of the board of the Zonamerica Foundation. “Holberton’s innovative, Silicon Valley-grade education has already proven to be highly successful in Zonamerica Cali, Colombia. Partnering with Holberton is helping us supply the talent to meet the demand for highly trained engineers.”

Holberton Montevideo campus

The school will begin welcoming students in September and depending on how the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, Holberton School Uruguay may temporarily open as a remote program providing its education fully online. We are so excited to help with the continuing growth of Uruguay’s tech market and are looking forward to welcoming students this spring. The new Uruguay campus, led by Ines Jakubovski, is planning on opening its doors to its first cohort of students in September. Applications are open, learn more about the campus here!

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!