Holberton School opens 9 new schools in the Middle East.

We are thrilled to announce that we are expanding to the Middle East area! 9 new schools will open in 9 new countries in July this year. This will bring the total number of Holberton Schools around the world to 25.

Our first school in the Middle East opened in Beirut, Lebanon, in March 2020. The Holberton School Beirut has since sparked interest from other countries in the region. Today, we are very excited to announce the opening of Holberton Schools in Jordan, Egypt, Iraq, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, and Kuwait.

The 9 new locations, as well as Holberton School Lebanon, will be regrouped into a new entity called Holberton School Middle East. It will be operated and managed by StarTechEUS. Alexandre Harkous will serve as Chairman of Holberton School Middle East.

This massive expansion will play a key role in the economic growth in the region.

“There is a high demand and need for qualified tech talent, and a tech education is the key to remaining competitive in a global economy. Our students have exceptional talents, and our goal is to develop those gifts into excellences while supporting their unique needs.” – Alexandre Harkous, Chairman of Holberton School Middle East. 

The First-of-its-kind Tech initiative will allow the region to provide best in class tech curriculum seeking to empower Arab technology-driven students, and giving them the opportunity to grow, thrive, and realize their potential by equipping them with the required skills to compete in the local, regional and international markets.

“We’re focused on developing strategies and programs for young Arabs with tech skills that encourage inclusion and a passion for Technology. We’re very excited about this potential social impact and our Holberton School expansion.” –  Alexandre Harkous, Chairman of Holberton School Middle East.

The 9 new campuses will start online first and will gradually open physical spaces as soon as COVID-19 allows it.

Holberton School Middle East plans to train 10,000 new students in software engineering and computer science by 2025.

To learn more about Holberton School Middle East, you can visit www.holberton-me.com.

Holberton School, WeWork, and the Future of Work

In the past 18 months, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated movements that had started many years ago, slowly but steadily. With no other choice than to embrace change, people and companies had to adapt quickly to the new world COVID-19 had created. One of these movements that was happening in the background was the idea that one day, remote work will be the norm because it makes so much sense at so many levels.

In the US, vaccinations have been working well, and fortunately, we are seeing a deep in the number of cases. This is great news for all of us, and hopefully, we will see the same trend soon all over the world. While remote was hard at the beginning for many of us, we had the time to really measure all its advantages. And it is not a surprise to us that we see both companies and employees embracing it.

Even though it is now possible to go back to the office, many companies such as Dropbox have become remote-first companies. At the same time, we see employees quitting instead of coming back to the workplace. Thanks to technology, many of us can now work from anywhere, and who wouldn’t take the opportunity to stop wasting time commuting? It also has allowed people to relocate next to their loved ones, to more sustainable regions, less expensive and/or more welcoming states and cities. In the US, Miami is one of the big winners of this trend.

Not only that but there are a lot of big underrated positives to remote work. For instance, remote work enables disabled people. Remote work enables caregivers.

It also allows people from poor countries to have access to better jobs and, by extension, a better life. Latin American workers are now going to compete with US workers, and the same will happen with African workers competing with European workers. While this might not sound like good news for silicon valley developers, it will allow companies to attract talent on a global scale.

Big VC and big money believe that this is not temporary and that this is actually the beginning of a new era for work. So they have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in remote-work-focused companies. Remote work is here to stay, and companies like Teamflow, Firstbase, Deel, and others are riding that megatrend, solving specific challenges remote work is coming with.

But being remote doesn’t mean workers should be alone at home all week. Actually, one of the many other things that the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted is that we crave for social interaction. We are social animals first; this is what defines us, this is how we survive, how we evolved, and we need to interact with each other. The lack of interaction did bring anxiety and depression to a new high everywhere. People want remote jobs, but with in-person social interactions. They want to move, be able to go as often as they want to an office next to where home is, to recharge their social and energy batteries, to interact, brainstorm, and have fun too.

That is where and why WeWork will make its come back. And it will be a strong comeback. While many are saying the company is dead, we believe that it is actually one of the important pieces of this new remote-work era and economy. It will allow workers to work from wherever they like and have access to a community near them. It will allow companies to offer their employees an office that will be flexible and fully managed by WeWork. And with the flexible office comes the people and the social interaction, 100% on-demand for the employees. It comes with access to a network, in-person friendship… life! Companies which will offer this to their employees will be able to compete to hire the best.

It is in this context that Holberton Schools operator and partner Coderise has partnered with WeWork to offer our students access to WeWork spaces around the world. The alliance will initially benefit students from Colombia and the Netherlands. Eventually, we would like to expand to all other countries where Holberton Schools operate. In Africa, another Holberton partner, Sayna, has also started to work with other co-working spaces in Africa to give access to an office and internet to their students.

This is a big net positive for our students, who will now be able to work from any WeWork location with their peers. Not only that, but they will be directly connected to the current workforce: developers, managers, and companies who are looking for talent will see first-hand what our students are capable of, and we believe that it will help tremendously with placement. This opens the doors to many and deeper opportunities between Holberton School and WeWork.

We believe that remote work is the future. Teams will be more and more remote and distributed. And we believe that remote doesn’t mean alone. People, workers or students, will always need in-person interactions to perform better. Thanks to this partnership, our students will be able to experience this future of work while learning and get used to a flexible and distributed work style, giving them a clear advantage while searching for a job once they graduate.

Last but not least, this partnership will also enable Holberton Schools to open micro-campuses. It will permit us to increase accessibility because many more students will be able to access a campus around the world.

For all the reasons stated above, we are more than excited about this partnership. “Do what you love,” and indeed, we can see that our students are already loving it!


#HolbiesAtWeWork

Holberton School Named To GSV EdTech 150

We are proud to announce we have been named to The GSV EdTech 150, which recognizes the world’s leading, most transformational education technology companies.

We were chosen from among 2,000 venture capital and private equity-backed private companies across several evaluation factors: revenue scale, revenue growth, active learner reach, international reach, and margin profile. GSV estimates that these 150 companies together reach approximately 3 billion people — close to half of the global population — and generate approximately $20 billion in revenue. 

GSV launched its inaugural list of leaders in education technology in 2020 with the EdTech 50, and with rapid growth in the sector, increased this year’s list to 150. 

“The Holberton School network has been providing a first-rate, software engineering education to many students around the world, with an education focusing on learning how to learn, in order to train them for the 4th industrial revolution. The Holberton team is delighted with this recognition, but I want to dedicate this award to our Holberton partners and Holberton Schools’ staff around the world, who are dedicated their lives to help their students,” said Julien Barbier, CEO, and founder of Holberton. “The world faces an increasing tech talent gap, which we are helping close one school at a time.”

“Congratulations to Holberton School for being selected for the GSV EdTech 150,” said Deborah Quazzo, managing partner of GSV. “When we launched the EdTech 50 last year, none of us knew the impact that a global pandemic would bring to education. COVID-19 brought 1.6 billion learners online overnight, ushering in the dawn of digital learning, and those we recognize today certainly met the moment. Holberton School has responded to unprecedented demand and growth with what GSV calls Weapons of Mass Instruction — and we look forward to seeing what you do next.”

To arrive at its listing, GSV evaluated more than 2,000 venture capital and private equity-backed private companies across several factors: 

  • VC or PE-backed private companies in Digital Learning, excluding companies that are public or have filed to be public 
  • Companies that are post-Series A in their development with the exception of bootstrapped companies that have achieved meaningful scale with $10+ million in revenue 
  • Organic top line growth at over 30% 

The selection is determined by GSV’s internally developed scoring system that applies scores across several KPIs including revenue scale, revenue growth, active learner reach, international reach, and margin profile.  

The GSV EdTech 150 list is evenly distributed between three major groups: Life-Long Learning, Higher Ed, and K-12. K-12 leads with 33% of the top 150 companies, with another 13% in blended K12/Higher Education companies. Workforce Learning and Adult Consumer learning together account for 37%, with Higher Education at 14% and Early Childhood at 3%.

The GSV EdTech 150 list is evenly distributed between three major groups: Life-Long Learning, Higher Education, and K-12. K-12 leads with 33% of the top 150 companies, with another 13% in blended K-12/Higher Education companies. Workforce Learning and Adult Consumer learning together account for 37%, with Higher Education at 14% and Early Childhood at 3%. 

North America — specifically the United States — is the leading geography within the EdTech 150. North America accounts for nearly half of the list, with China and India at 18% and 10%, respectively. These markets combined represent over 73% of those included. Europe, the Middle East, and Africa are represented by 15% of the listing, with several high-quality, fast-growing companies such as Photomath, OpenClassrooms, Brainly, and GoStudent. Latin America — and specifically Brazil — is showing strong early trends, with Hotmart, Descomplica, and UOL EdTech all experiencing impressive growth.  

Let’s do this!

C10 End of Specialization projects

Friday, May 7, 2021, Cohort 10 ended Specialization. To conclude their journey at Holberton School, students had to build a Portfolio project. Here is a snippet of some of our students’ (great) projects.

AR/VR Specialization

Inès Chokri from Holberton School Tunisia worked on a project called “The Witch’s Trial” which is a VR game (arcade/adventure) in which the player is a witch and will have to pass a trial to prove their worth as one. The player will go through multiple levels (only one level has been made for now). Each level is timed and is different from the other as it tests every time the ability of the witch. The first level is the Flying test. The witch has to fly with a broom through circles and collect diamonds before time runs out. Pink rings add additional time, red rings subtract time and asteroids take a diamond from the witch.

Project: The Witch’s Trial

Justin Majetich from Holberton School New Haven worked on a project called “VR Wheelchair“. It is a manual wheelchair locomotion system for virtual reality applications. The system will be packaged as a complete player controller rig which can be easily imported into an existing Unity project. VR Wheelchair is motivated by a general interest in representation within gaming. It also addresses a key strength and weakness in the medium of VR — immersion and locomotion, respectively. Read more about the project.

Project: VR Wheelchair

Machine Learning Specialization 

John Cook from Holberton School Tulsa worked on a project called “Quantum Machine Learning vs Classical Machine Learning“. This project covers a comparison between the two and describes where quantum machine learning is useful right now. Read more about this project.

Project: Quantum Machine Learning vs Classical Machine Learning

Diego Felipe Quijano Zuñiga, Oscar Rodriguez, and Samir Millan Orozco from Holberton School Colombia (Cali) worked on a project callled “COVID-19 radiography detection“. This project attempts to detect through the use of data and image analysis tools in the field of Machine Learning, such as convolutional neural networks or deep neural networks, the detection of COVID-19 SARS COV2 in chest X-ray images.

Project: COVID-19 radiography detection

Web Stack Specialization

Jhoan Stiven Zamora Caicedo, Angel Omar Pedroza Cardenas, Javier Andrés Garzón Patarroyo and Michael Orlando Cocuy Garzón from Holberton School Colombia (Bogota) worked on a project called “SolucionesYa“. Pitch: Allow freelancers to get exposure on the internet by publishing the services they provide and their contact information in a centralized information hub.

Project: SolucionesYa

Aura Marina Pasmin, Carlos Daniel Cortez Pantoja, Felipe Satizabal Vallejo, and Jorge Chaux from Holberton School Colombia (Cali) and Holberton School Tunisia, worked on a project called “Agora Events“. Pitch: Web application under the start-up mode, which aims to generate a virtual communication space for companies and people to highlight their events. The application is designed for people to post or attend different types of events as corporate, academic, cultural, and sports.

Project: Agora Event

Khalil Sdiri and Rakia Somai from Holberton School Tunisia worked on a project called “Postme“. A MERN social media application with users, posts, likes, and comments – developed using React, a GraphQL server that uses Node and Express to communicate to a MongoDB Database and fetch and persist data to the app back-end.

Project: PostMe

Congratulations C#10 on finishing Specializations! We’re super proud of you and wish you the best of luck in your future career in Computer Science! Let’s do it! 

Learn more about our specialization programs here.

Holberton School Tulsa: Upskilling the locals, and attracting outside talents

The assumption of 19th century education was that building a student’s knowledge base is everything. But, today, with the biggest library that has ever existed at everyone’s fingertips (the internet), skills are what matter. Content is not the problem. Learning how to learn is the future of education.

It’s time for Open Educational Resources. The education system needs to evolve at the same rapid pace as the technology sector, which is the fastest-growing, changing, and evolving industry in history.

Making Education accessible to the many is the core mission of Holberton School. We empower motivated and talented people to succeed in their dream careers. Also, we aim at helping communities to upskill, attract and retain tech talent. 

As part of that effort, in 2020, we extended our accessibility in the USA by partnering with the George Kaiser Family Foundation and the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation to open a Holberton School in Tulsa

Tulsa’s fun and vibrant culture and entrepreneurial spirit have built a city that embraces inclusion and champions big ideas. In the middle of a technological renaissance, Tulsa’s emerging technology sector is on its way to making the city a new American tech hub. 

Tulsa’s leaders have made significant commitments to diversify the city’s economy and grow its tech jobs infrastructure. Countless private and public sector partners have developed innovative programs to attract tech companies and investments to the Tulsa area and supply them with highly-trained employees. 

With organizations like Tulsa Remote bringing Tulsa onto the national stage for remote working, and groups like Tulsa Innovation Labs and 36 Degrees North making Tulsa a place for startups and innovative technologies to bloom, there has never been a better time to think about joining the technology sector in Tulsa!

Along with plenty of job opportunities in Tulsa, there are lots of reasons to learn to code in this stimulating and promising environment. For example:

  • Holberton School Tulsa offers up to $1500 monthly need-based assistance for eligible students;
  • Holberton School Tulsa’s flexible financing options include a reduced Income Share Agreement for students who live in Tulsa after graduation, students can see their ISA repayment rate reduced to 10% of their income for 3.5 years after graduation.
  • Tulsa boasts a 61% lower cost of living than big cities like New York and a 43% lower median house price than the national average. 

Since its opening in January 2020, Holberton’s Tulsa school quickly outgrew its original premise and will soon offer a new 12-month program and will double in size by April 2022

“Anyone can learn to code! Computing can be found everywhere in today’s world and, to build solutions to real-world problems, we need software engineers with diversity of thought and experiences. Holberton not only also recognizes that diversity and collaboration are important, but actively removes barriers to foster diverse coders and uses peer-learning as a critical component of developing both our technical and soft skills.” — Kelsie, Cohort 11 Holberton School Tulsa.

Whether you are a recent high school graduate, have recently become unemployed, or are looking to go back to school to change careers, there’s a place for you at Holberton School Tulsa! Come learn Full-Stack Software Engineering, Web Development, AR/VR, Low Level & Algorithms, or Machine Learning! Apply now.

Sources: The Tech Future Has Arrived in Tulsa ; Next Stop For The Great Tech Migration: Tulsa

“Campus Culture”: When Holberton School gets involved in promoting culture among students

The 4th industrial revolution, which we are living through now, is the convergence of many disruptive technologies. But these new technologies have brought with them challenges of diversity and inclusion. Our students acquire knowledge in Computer Science and strong skills in Software Development to shape the future of society.

As we believe diversity and inclusion are paramount to innovation. More viewpoints, life experiences, cultures, and voices mean more community-driven ideation and problem-solving; We want a cultural grounding to be part of that education.

Being part of that effort, Holberton School Tunis joined forces with the University of Paris Dauphine I Tunis, IHEC Carthage, and IPEST in a public-private partnership to promote a culture of open-mindedness and sharing in its student environments. “Culture Campus” was born, an innovative concept aiming to bring young students from different backgrounds together.

The launch of this new concept was announced at IHEC in Carthage on February 25th, 2021, with the participation of Amine Ben Amor (Holberton School Tunis), Amina Bouzguenda (University of Paris Dauphine I Tunis) Hassen Mzali (IHEC Carthage) and Manef Abderrabba (IPEST).

Amine Ben Amor emphasized the importance of culture in student life, starting with his own experience with the students of Holberton School Tunis: 

“At the beginning of 2020, we received a delegation from Santander Bank with major financiers and bank managers from Madrid who had the curiosity to visit this small school, having no teachers, no diplomas, even no prepayment and which encourages talent. These guests had exchanged with the students and asked them some questions such as: ‘What is the last film that you watched?’. The answer was: ‘An Andalusian Dog’ by Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dali. Our hosts were impressed. 

This is to say that what makes the difference between a good engineer and another good engineer is culture, it is what he can relate and exchange with his colleagues. This is proof that at Holberton School we have succeeded in giving our students a taste for beautiful things. Students need culture, to know the global code of the arts. Making culture a pillar of training can only be beneficial to students, it differentiates them in the job market, giving them the key to success”.

The “Campus Culture” concept revolves around two axes of action:

  • Integrating cultural activities into the training programs provided by these establishments;
  • Creating a network of clubs located within the four establishments. These clubs will enrich student life through an agenda of events designed and developed by the students themselves with a view to mixing populations among campuses.

We constantly challenge ourselves to look into the future of our society as well as the future of the job market to train the best leaders and learners of tomorrow. Promoting and teaching universal values through culture to students will help them to be better prepared to face the challenges of tomorrow.

Stay tuned! Follow Holberton School Tunisia on Facebook to know more about the next “Campus Culture” event.

Inauguration video [FRENCH]: https://www.facebook.com/HolbertonTUN/videos/419708335759915 

Holberton doubles down on its Machine Learning program

While developing the tools and programs for education in the 21st century, we constantly challenge ourselves to look into the future of our society as well as the future of the job market. We are now at the beginning of the 4th industrial revolution, which is the convergence of many disruptive technologies. One of them is Machine Learning.

Machine learning has been able to revolutionize so many fields, ranging from medicine to social media, to food, to security. And this trend has accelerated with COVID-19. While yesterday, every company had to become a digital company to survive, tomorrow they will have to become machine learning companies. Already, on LinkedIn alone, you can find more than 60,000 machine learning jobs open in the US. Many are companies that you would expect to find, like Twitter or Tik Tok, but more and more non-traditional tech companies are investing in machine learning and recruiting machine learning engineers: even companies like McDonald’s. According to LinkedIn, machine learning has created one of the biggest employment opportunities of 2021. Machine learning hiring since 2019 is up by 32%.

But while many alternative educational institutions, both online and offline, have done a great job at opening the doors to programming, 99% of machine learning hires have a bachelor’s degree or higher. The field of machine learning is still not accessible to most aspirants, and it suffers from a huge lack of diversity that has already sparked many ethical controversies. The machine-learning community needs more diversity in the field. They are creating our future and we want that future to reflect the values and attitudes of everyone.

Very early on, we introduced a machine learning curriculum to our Holberton School students. Since then, we have constantly improved our curriculum and tools in order to offer the best machine learning education possible. The initial version of our curriculum was led by Alexa Orrico and our community of advisors from Silicon Valley and beyond.

Machine learning is not as easy as learning a new programming language. To learn machine learning to a depth of understanding required by industry, students need to study mathematics, programming, and machine learning itself, which is actually itself a collection of many sub-categories. Learning everything at the same time was a big challenge for our first students, and from that experience and thanks to their feedback, we now have improved both the program and the tools for both partners and students.

Starting a few weeks ago, a new Machine Learning & Mathematics team joined us to build on the great curriculum Alexa started, and better support machine learning students at Holberton.

Today, I’d like to officially welcome the new Machine Learning & Mathematics team: Florian Bolgar, Fares Nadjar, Myriam Azzouz, Oumaima Merhbene. The team will be led by Mohamed Amine Ben Amor.

Oleksandra Fedorova from Google and Greggory Renard from xBrain and The Frontier Development Lab (an applied research accelerator based at NASA ARC and the SETI Institute), will act as working advisors to make sure the curriculum is of the highest quality and meets industry needs.

In addition, and because machine learning is by far the hardest Holberton School specialization, we are now offering more support and more live sessions to our Holberton Schools students. For each project:

  • At mid project, we have a live session of up to 3 hours focusing on theory, Mathematics and resources
  • At the end of the project, PLD will become:
    • Live coding session of up to two hours
    • Live support on Slack for any questions during the rest of the PLD days

Because our partners’ schools spans over many time zones, we have also doubled all these live sessions:

  • One for the EMEA
  • One for the Americas

Finally, we will also organize regular events (fireside chat most of the time) with machine learning professionals from around the world.

Please find a few words about the new ML & Math team:

Mohamed Amine Ben Amor – team ML lead

Amine owns a PhD in Mathematics. He used to be the director of the Mathematics department of the Tunisian campus of the University Paris Dauphine for almost 5 years and is now both assistant master at France National Education as well as campus director of Holberton Tunis. 

Before that, Amine was an entrepreneur for 6 years, using Mathematics to help companies.

Amine has 10 publications in ML and Mathematics under his belt, and 2 more to be released this year.

Amine is a former student from Ecole Polytechnique. One of the best engineering schools in the world. He also has several distinctions.

Florian Bolgar – Senior

Florian owns a PhD in Astrophysics. He has been teaching Mathematics since 2013 and is currently working as ML expert in France. He also is also fluent in Python and Django and has been doing freelance work as a software engineer since early 2019.

Florian owns a “few” degrees from the best French universities:

  • PhD in Astrophysics from University Pierre et Marie Curie
  • Master in Physics from École Normale Supérieure (one of the best university in the world)
  • Master in Astrophysics from University Paris Diderot
  • Aggregation in Mathematics from École Normale Supérieure
  • Bachelor in Physics from École Normale Supérieure

Fares Nadjar – Senior

Fares has a triple competency as actuary (an actuary is a professional using probability and statistics in the fields of finance and insurance), data scientist, and software engineer.

He owns a:

  • Master in Computer Science and Intelligent Systems from University Paris Dauphine
  • Master in Actuary from University Paris Dauphine
  • Bachelor in Mathematic and Computer Science 

Myriam Azzouz – Tutor

Myriam just graduated From Paris Dauphine PSL university where she earned:

  • A Master in Artificial Intelligence, Systems and Data. This master is co-accredited by 

University Paris Dauphine, École Normale Supérieure of Paris and Mines ParisTech

  • A Master in Big Data
  • A Bachelor in Applied Mathematics

Myriam was mentored by Professor Tristan Cazenave. 

Myriam applied her skills in ML as a Machine Learning Engineer Intern in different companies, including Criteo, Equinor, Sagemcom. During her last internship in London (UK) she built an automated pipeline and deployed models to help people and companies extract insights from their data. 

Myriam is also volunteering, helping kids to better learn and love Mathematics.

Oumaima Merhbene – Tutor

Oumaima also graduated From Paris Dauphine PSL university where she earned:

  • A Master in Artificial Intelligence, Systems and Data. This master is co-accredited by 

University Paris Dauphine, École Normale Supérieure of Paris and Mines ParisTech

  • A Master in Big Data
  • A Bachelor in Applied Mathematics

She spent her last 6 months at the LAMSADE research laboratory (Decision Support, Operational Research, Business Intelligence, Decision Theory and Artificial Intelligence) at CNRS / Paris-Dauphine where she was supervised by both Tristan Cazenave and Florian Sikora. During this internship, she used a combination of Monte Carlo Tree Search and Deep Learning Techniques to solve graph optimisation problems. Her publication will be soon released at the Monte Carlo Search workshop. 

She also had a 3-month internship at the Pasteur Institute research laboratory, where she worked on predicting new drug-disease associations using Neural Networks (autoencoder) to identify potential new usages for existing drugs. 

About Tristan Cazenave

Tristan Cazenave is one of the most famous Machine Learning specialists. He wrote 225 papers on Machine Learning. With Bruno Bouzy, Tristan Cazenave invented the best approach to Computer Go. In 2005, He wrote a Monte-Carlo based Phantom Go program competitive with human Go players. An improved version won gold medals at the 2007, 2008 and 2009 computer Olympiads.

About Florian Sikora

Florian Sikora is interested in “Hard Problems”. He is working on Graph theory and Machine Learning solving methods on them. He wrote several softwares and several research papers. He is also Associate Professor at The Paris Dauphine University (1st French university).

Oleksandra Fedorova – advisor

Oleksandra is an ML software engineer at Google, in Sunnyvale (CA) where she works on the Dialogflow project (Natural Language Processing made easy for developers).

Previously Sasha attended school 42 in Silicon Valley where she was also an AI technical coordinator, after which she worked in different startups applying her skill as ML and full-stack software engineer before joining Google.

Gregory Renard – senior advisor

Greg is a star in the world of ML. He is an investor and an advisor at Holberton, Inc, and had talked to students many times in the past. His resume is super impressive:

  • Chief AI officer and head of applied Machine Learning and Deep Learning at xBrain (think Siri for cars) in Menlo Park (CA), since 10+ years
  • He is also on the committee and ML lead at the Frontier Development Lab, co-created by the NASA and the SETI, since 2016
  • Greg is an AI advisor for the French and Belgium governments

Recently, Greg also volunteered with the office of Science and Technology Policy at the White House, where he – with the help of two other Machine Learning specialists – trained an NLP hybrid model in order to help the administration to look for relevant information in the research papers and on the web. Daily, they are issuing a quantitative report and periodically a qualitative report of the publications on the COVID-19 cure. They automated semantic collection and analysis of nearly 5 million VIDOC-19 related items per day (representing more than 1 To raw data text per 3 weeks).

In addition to Holberton’s staff, Coderise, our partner in Colombia also has recruited ML specialists who will be available to help students in Colombia:

  • Mario Morales, Senior Research Scientist and MsC and Associate Faculty in Columbia University
  • Robrecht Jurriaans, CTO at Bomberbot and MSc in Artificial Intelligence from University of Amsterdam 
  • Cristian Garcia, Software Developer (Machine Learning) at Quansight

Machine learning has so much potential, and it’s so important to create more ways for students to learn about it. I am beyond excited to have such an awesome team joining us to continue improving our ML program. In combination with our OS of Education, our Holberton School partners have also been able to offer the ML specialization as a stand-alone to developers around the world, but also, universities are now able to offer our ML projects to their students. With this new tool under their belt, our students will be able to create a better future for everyone. I can’t wait to see what they will create!

Holberton School is partnering with Actual group to open new campuses in France!

Holberton School is continuing to expand its operations in France! 

We’re thrilled to announce that we’ve signed a new partnership with Actual group to open more schools in France. The first one will open in June in Laval, followed by a second in Toulouse in September 2021. 

With more than 30 years of experience, 300 agencies, 1,450 employees, and 650 million euros in revenue, the Actual group is one of the most successful French staffing and recruiting agencies. We’re very excited to join forces with an important player in the field of employment. 

The Actual group will help to place students on the labor market, while Holberton School will ensure technical excellence amongst the students.


The Actual group has joined forces with Holberton School to set up an innovative
12-to-18-month training course on digital and web technologies.

More and more companies are starting their transformation and accelerating their digitization. To meet this exponential need, it’s become vital to train more people for digital professions, which have become popular and rare on the French job market.  

“Actual group aims to provide employment opportunities for those in research so that they can provide highly valued skills to companies,” said Samuel Tual, Chairman of the Actual group. “Quite naturally, it seemed logical to us to explore the digital sector. Today, these professions are struggling due to a lack of skills.”

The Actual group already has schools and training offers that specialize in three-way employee-actual-employer relations, covering time-sharing, portage, and temping. This partnership will complete their offer, allowing them to focus on digital, tech, and web and to train the highly-skilled digital talent that the French economy needs.

[French] Interview of Samuel Tual, Chairman of the Actual group

“I’m very pleased with this initiative,” said Samuel Tual, Chairman of the Actual group. “By enabling people to train for tomorrow’s skills, we’ll help companies of all sizes to meet the enormous challenge of digital transformation. Beyond training and educational content, it’s about access to employment.”

With the Actual group, Holberton School’s students will be well-trained and well-supported so that they can quickly find a job after their studies. 

The school will begin welcoming its first cohort of students in June 2021 in Laval.

Stay tuned!

Holberton cleared of fraud allegations in California

Holberton is delighted to announce that the California Attorney General has struck down ‘fraud’ allegations against our San Francisco campus and resolved all other outstanding matters of dispute, including claims of misleading advertising. California was the only market in which Holberton faced any regulatory challenges.

With this now behind us, we are excited to move forward with our original mission of providing affordable and accessible education to prospective software engineers around the world.

For the past four years we have focused on educating thousands of students to Silicon Valley levels of software engineering proficiency no matter their background, education, credentials or income. More than a third of our students are the first in their family to access post-secondary education, 20% of them are women, and they come from all walks of life: high-school graduates, former cashiers, cooks and artists.

The company has refrained from speaking publicly about the California dispute pending this resolution in order to not prejudice the legal process. Now that the matter is behind us, we feel it necessary to clarify for our students and partners and other interested parties exactly what was alleged and what was decided.

The California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE) brought 15 complaints against Holberton School San Francisco in recent months. The most serious complaints were that the San Francisco campus had used misleading advertisement and ‘fraudulently’ obtained its license.

These were the result of a misunderstanding of communications from the BPPE. The bureau’s parent agency, the California Consumer Affairs Department, subsequently found the BPPE’s communications to Holberton were “vague,” as we will further discuss below. 

TIMELINE

In April 2016, Holberton applied for a license to operate in California. Holberton’s model included Income Share Agreements, or ISAs, which allow students to pursue an education with no upfront costs and pay only after they are earning at least $40,000 per year, or $3,333 in any one month. They pay no interest and if students don’t find employment paying $40,000 or more, they pay nothing.

In March 2018, as Holberton’s application process with the BPPE was still pending, the BPPE sent a detailed questionnaire to Holberton asking for more information about its use of ISAs. Holberton completed the questionnaire and received an email from BPPE saying that the company’s “response is acceptable.” 

In the same email, the BPPE asked that Holberton “provide a new enrollment agreement and catalog that does not reference income sharing agreements,” noting that BPPE “will not approve an application that contains ISA/DTA in the application.”

The BPPE did not say that such a financing mechanism is forbidden, nor is there state or federal legislation restricting the use of ISAs in California. Holberton understood the BPPE communication only to mean that the reference to ISAs should not be included in the school catalog or enrollment agreement and that, while it may be considered as a tuition financing tool, it should not be included in the licensing application.

Holberton immediately complied with the BPPE request and, in July 2018, the BPPE granted Holberton School San Francisco a license to operate in California.

On January, 25, 2020, however, Holberton received a letter from the BPPE claiming that Holberton School San Francisco had fraudulently obtained its license because it continued to offer ISAs after removing reference to ISAs from its licensing application. 

The letter contained notification of an emergency action regarding Holberton’s San Francisco campus that, if confirmed, would have required Holberton to cease operations and stop enrollment.

At a hearing on the matter on February 4, 2020, the BPPE’s parent agency, the California Department of Consumer Affairs, determined that the evidence against Holberton School San Francisco did not support the need for emergency action, and Hoberton was allowed to continue to operate in the state.

With regard to the charge of ‘fraud,’ Holberton explained that it had not understood the BPPE to have banned ISAs and that it had never received an explicit request for Holberton School San Francisco to stop using ISAs. Below is the text of the email at the heart of the misunderstanding. Note, the reference to the ‘institution’s response’ regards Holberton’s answers to the BPPE questionnaire about Holberton’s use of ISAs:

Good Morning! The institution’s response is acceptable. Please provide a new enrollment agreement and catalog that does not reference income sharing agreements and/or deferred tuition agreements. The Bureau will not approve an application that contains ISA/DTA in the application.

Any questions, please feel free to ask.

Sincerely,

A subsequent review of these communications by the California Department of Consumer Affairs, and then by the California Attorney General’s office, clarified the misunderstanding and the fraud allegations were stricken by the Attorney General, along with thirteen other minor causes for discipline brought by the BPPE.

The two remaining BPPE complaints are now moot as we eventually obtained the license to operate and withdrew the Career Track program that was at issue. Nonetheless, for the sake of clarity and transparency, we detail them below.

  1. OPERATING WITHOUT A LICENSE

The BPPE charged that Holberton School San Francisco operated for two years without a license, pending BPPE’s approval of its licensing application. 

However, Holberton took numerous affirmative steps to obtain a license to accept paying students by:  (1) attending the BPPE’s August 12, 2015 Licensing Workshop; (2) requesting information regarding the application process and licensure requirements; (3) submitting our approval application six months in advance of our scheduled opening; (4) hiring a BPPE application & compliance specialist with more than 30 years experience to ensure the quality and accuracy of our application and compliance with California’s laws; (5) promptly and diligently addressing all of the BPPE’s questions during the application process. 

Holberton enrolled its first San Francisco cohort in January 2016 and submitted its application to the BPPE in April 2016. The school’s first cohort was offered education completely free, in which case a license to operate is not needed. When Holberton realized that it wouldn’t obtain its license in time to enroll its paying cohort in October 2016, it decided to proceed because the BPPE had a well-established and publicly announced policy to allow institutions that were making progress towards approval (i.e., that had submitted applications) to begin operations pending receipt of a license. 

For example, DCA spokesman Russ Heimerich’s January 2014 statement to the press indicated that the BPPE did not plan to pursue disciplinary action against any coding institution operating without a license as long as an application was in process. This is in recognition of the fact that schools need to make substantial investments before accepting paying students and that sitting idle while waiting for the licensing process to be completed would create an unsustainable financial burden for the schools.

The BPPE was aware of Holberton’s operation during the application process, as acknowledged in a communication to Holberton School San Francisco on April 12, 2016. The BPPE didn’t take disciplinary action at that time because Holberton was actively taking steps towards obtaining the license. The BPPE confirmed receipt of Holberton’s application on April 27, 2016. 

Holberton obtained its license in July 2018, more than two years after applying, and subsequently attended a Compliance Workshop held by the BPPE on October 11, 2018.

Nonetheless, the BPPE reversed course in January 2020, seeking to discipline the school for allegedly having operated prior to receiving its license.

  1. CAREER TRACK

The second remaining BPPE complaint against Holberton regards Holberton’s Career Track program, allowing students to complete the Holberton program through on-the-job learning. 

In late 2018, Holberton began offering “Career Track” as part of its curriculum in response to requests from students who wanted to launch their careers before graduating. Given the many students who come to Holberton from disadvantaged backgrounds, the company understood the desire by some students to earn money before the end of the 18-month program. In response, it created the Career Track to enable those students to earn their certificate rather than having to quit the program in order to work, lose the benefit of Holberton’s alumni network and forfeit free lifetime access to Holberton’s complete curriculum. 

Holberton provided notice of this curriculum change to the BPPE, which expressly acknowledged the change without comment in June 2019. 

In February 2020, however, the BPPE claimed that Holberton had not followed the correct process to modify its curriculum and add the Career Track program. The BPPE requested that Holberton stop offering the Career Track. After receiving the BPPE notice, Holberton immediately stopped offering Career Track to their California students and refunded associated fees.

We regret having had to stop the Career Track program in California, which had proven extremely successful.

CONCLUSION

We are sorry for the disruption this incident has caused our students and community. We are heartened by the Attorney General’s conclusion after reviewing the evidence we provided in response to the various complaints. We remain committed to complying with the laws and regulations of each market in which we operate. 

We learned valuable lessons in California and hope to continue discussions with the BPPE and other regulators in hopes of making private education more accessible to financially disadvantaged students everywhere.

We are happy to have resolved these issues in California. We continue to believe strongly that Holberton’s vocational education solution provides value to all students eager to participate in the global tech economy around the world. Holberton’s employment-focused education can help address the world’s critical shortage of software engineers while making the tech world more inclusive. We look forward to continuing our core mission of democratizing access to world-class engineering education.

Thank you for your support. Join us in closing the global technology talent gap while bringing more deserving people into the knowledge economy.

UNESCO talk: life-long learning in the 4th industrial revolution

Sylvain Kalache at UNESCO annual International Youth Conference in Jamaica

Our co-founder, Sylvain Kalache, was invited to speak with the audience during the UNESCO annual International Youth Conference in Jamaica, joining an audience from the US, Germany, Russia, Jamaica, and Mexico. Other great speakers included Saadia Sánchez, UNESCO Cluster Office for the Caribbean; Hon Alando Terrylonge, Jamaica Minister of State, Ministry of Culture Gender Entertainment and Sport; Everton Hannam, Secretary-General, Jamaica National Commission for UNESCO.

During this conference, he shared tips on becoming an efficient learner in the 4th industrial revolution. 

“The 4th industrial revolution is different from the past industrial revolutions because the pace of change is happening at an exponential rate. And while our world drastically evolved, our education system has not. A key element for all of us is to become lifelong learners, and most of the knowledge you need is available at your fingertips.” – Sylvain Kalache, co-founder of Holberton School.

Sylvain argues that access to knowledge is no longer an issue for many learners. Students have access to peers, instructors, libraries, and obviously the largest source of information that ever existed: the Internet. An ocean of knowledge is now accessible at our fingertips, which completely flips our world and education! Memorizing information shall no longer be the focus. With the right guidance, students can be teaching themselves; but this is not an easy task. It is a challenge to come up with the proper search engine request, and then filter the results to understand what is right, wrong, or incomplete. Fake news is an excellent illustration of the challenge.

The world of today and tomorrow requires a different set of skills to be professionally successful. Sylvain reviewed the skills that learners shall focus on: 

  • Problem-solving;
  • Critical thinking;
  • Creativity;
  • Professional communication; 
  • People skills.

These skills can be developed with progressive education-based programs where students learn by integrated multi-level projects, action-oriented tasks, collaborating, and working on projects in groups.

The audience loved the presentation, which was summarized with a proverb that our co-founder thought translated very well to education: “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” 

The same applies to education: become a Lifelong Learner!

Full recording of this event:

Full recording of Sylvain’s speech, here.

Thank you again, Jamaica Federation of Unesco Clubs, Centers and Associations, for having Holberton at your annual conference.