Code the Way creates opportunities for future developers


Nirbhay Vig

Students present their new software to aid the nonprofit organization Heros for Healthcare. (Left to right) Back row: Vanessa Osterberg(‘18), Leo Brunette (‘19), Nick Hill(‘18), Andrew Kim (‘19). Front row: Caleb Liu (‘19), Ben Tan (‘19), and Adam Nygard(‘18)

Tyler Tran, Reporter

For most high school students, summer means a long deserved break from schoolwork. However, for a handful of Brookfield Central students, this past summer has been anything but. These students spent the majority of their summer learning the fundamentals of computer software development and applying these skills on real-world projects.

Code the Way is an organization that partners with high schools with various technological companies to provide students with a computer science learning experience they are able to use in the real world. This past summer, 45 high schools students participated in this program at Brookfield Central, and worked with nonprofit organizations. I sat down with Brookfield Central’s computer science teacher and education director of Code the Way, Mr. Osterberg to get a deeper insight into what this experience has to offer.

How and when did the program first begin at Brookfield Central?
It started two years ago, which was the summer of 2017, and it basically started with 10 Brookfield Central students who worked for nine weeks with SafeNet Consulting to create a customized software program for a time management and mileage management system for Life Navigators.The biggest thing about the first year was that it had never been done before; it had never been attempted by high school students before. The program was created to look towards the future, we needed a way to support the growth of the computer science program as well as ways to partner with other companies and create opportunities. The idea was of my own, I constantly make up projects and things for students to do, and I thought this was an opportunity for students to do something real.

What have the students accomplished so far?
The students gave nine weeks of their summer to work on two projects for two non-profit organizations: one for Heroes for Healthcare and another for Life Navigators. As of now, we have software for Heroes for Healthcare that helps keep track of their clients. This software has been in use for one month, and there haven’t been any issues to date. In addition to the time and mileage management system the students created for Life Navigators, students have also created a system to manage clients for them. Training has been scheduled for their employees on how to use the software, with implementation planned in the coming months. Some of the immediate results we have had from this program are that we’ve had students receive tens of hundreds of dollars in scholarships, we’ve had students secure additional internship opportunities at Microsoft and Facebook, and have actually aided students with getting into college.

What are the future plans for Code the Way?
Our future plans for next year are to expand participation for more students. We’re looking to partner with four local companies to help support the projects, and four nonprofits to develop software for.

What do you hope the participants take away from this experience?
Part of what I want to do as an educator is that I want to give kids the best experience for this possible career, and I want a student leaving my classroom to feel confident in what they want to do. I think the big thing here is that this program really allowed students to take away what a software developer does. They’ve done real world things that have affected real world people. The angle is that we’re teaching empathy to these kids; that the software that they developed is helping people. This summer experience has it all.