News from the Academy

2014 Academy

In the last year, we had people showing interest in the academy at all sorts of times of the year.
So, instead of setting the schedule for next year's academy now, we are going to leave it open. If you are interested, let us know when the timing would be right for you.

We really like what the flatiron school is doing for its pre-work and are having some internal discussion as to what we would do differently. So, next year, our pre-work will have some similarities and some differences. We look forward to next year's participants.

More to come…

Academy Schedule Announced for Next Craftsmen

The first class of Academy participants are well on their way and will tell you how much they learned in a future blog post.

We learned some things, too. We started with 5 participants for the first class. One found that they weren't cut out for the program and left early based on mutual agreement. (We learned about better screening and preparation of the participant). Two others were already working with RoleModel in other capacities, and are continuing in those capacities. (We learned that some of what we covered is the best orientation for new people joining us). The final two were are target audience and exceeded our expectations. (We learned how to adjust the program for the future).

Christian Di Lorenzo and John Calvin Young are continuing their academy participation while working as apprentices at RoleModel right now. They are doing a combination of directed projects with regular review, serving in various unique capacities, and getting ready for the project immersion phase. John is focusing on DevOps and Web Development. Christian is focusing on iOS development and Design.

Based on reflection from our experience, we're announcing our schedule and pricing for the next two offerings of the Academy.

If you have been to our website before, you'll notice some updates to the pricing structure, as well as the models, without changing the basics of what is being taught/learned. The intensity and interaction of the first six weeks of Skills Immersion will be extremely high, and it is just-short-of-required that all other activities (part-time jobs, other classes, etc.) cease during this time. The second six weeks (or longer) of Skills Immersion will be more self-paced with much less interaction from instructors and mentors. There will be six short group sessions over the following six weeks that can be attended live or remotely. In addition, the participant can schedule six two-hour one-on-one sessions with instructors and/or mentors while working through assignments given to them at the end of the first session. (They will also have just-in-time access to help if they are really stuck).

These assignments must be completed and sufficient skill demonstrated to apply for a 12-week apprenticeship on a project with RoleModel Software (Project Immersion). Potential apprentices must be accepted by the project technical lead (recommendations of the Academy instructor/mentor will certainly carry significant weight). Depending on a variety of factors, the apprentice to the project may earn $8-12/hr for work deemed valuable and billable to clients. Start dates for Apprenticeship are somewhat flexible. Dates below are merely suggested expected start dates for planning purposes. A variety of circumstances could alter actual start dates for this phase of the program.

Spring Entry

This is an earlier entry point and smaller class size than our Summer Session.
It is targeting those who are either ready to dive in with both feet before the summer, or those who are on a self-directed and flexible Academic Schedule such as CollegePlus! and would like to focus on six weeks of immersion to really get started, but slow down the rest of the process in order to interleave completion with other studies.

February 25, 2013 - April 5, 2013 (Max class size: 6)
Skills Immersion - Part 1 - Craftsmanship in the Small (6 weeks resident, cost: $5,000 plus room/board if not commuting)

April 15, 2013 - May 24, 2013 (Can be longer if deferring Apprenticeship)
Skills Immersion - Part 2 - Craftsmanship that Scales (6 weeks resident or remote, cost: $2,000 plus room/board if not commuting)

June 3, 2013 - August 30, 2013 (Must successfully complete Skills Immersion - Part 2 Requirements and be accepted by Project Technical Lead… later entry points into Apprenticeship phase are possible)
Apprenticeship: Project Immersion - Craftsmanship for Others (11 weeks resident over 13 calendar weeks, cost: $0 plus room/board if not commuting, potential earnings: $8-12/hr for work deemed billable to clients)

September 3, 2013 - August 29, 2014
Paid Internship at an Agile Craftsmanship-Minded Company (1 year resident, potential earnings: $24,000-36,000)

September 8, 2014 - September 12, 2014
Journeyman Certification test (5 day resident, cost: $500)

Summer Entry

This is an entry point for those who are finishing a season of study through a traditional school calendar in May/June and looking at the Academy to help launch them into a career. It could also work for those who are still finishing their Academic Schooling (high school or college) and would like to focus on six weeks of immersion to really get started, but slow down the rest of the process in order to interleave completion with other studies.

July 8, 2013 - August 16, 2013 (Max class size: 10)
Skills Immersion - Part 1 - Craftsmanship in the Small (6 weeks resident, cost: $4,500 plus room/board if not commuting)

August 19, 2013 - September 27, 2013 (Can be longer if deferring Apprenticeship)
Skills Immersion - Part 2 - Craftsmanship that Scales (6 weeks resident or remote, cost: $2,000 plus room/board if not commuting)

September 30, 2013 - January 3, 2014 (Must successfully complete Skills Immersion - Part 2 Requirements and be accepted by Project Technical Lead… later entry points into Apprenticeship phase are possible)
Apprenticeship: Project Immersion - Craftsmanship for Others (11 weeks resident over 13 calendar weeks, cost: $0 plus room/board if not commuting, potential earnings: $8-12/hr for work deemed billable to clients)

January 6, 2014 - January 2, 2015
Paid Internship at an Agile Craftsmanship-Minded Company (1 year resident, potential earnings: $24,000-36,000)

January 12, 2015 - January 16, 2015
Journeyman Certification test (5 day resident, cost: $500)

Future Day-to-Week-Long Immersions

Through the first official Academy, and the process leading up to it, we found out a few things that are causing us to think about a few other offerings:

  • One day intense intros to iOS for non-iOS Software Developers
  • Two day intense intros to JavaScript for real Software Development (it's not just for tweaking the DOM)
  • One week bootcamps for active developers who want to learn a new technology as well as some craftsmanship techniques
  • One week bootcamps for high schoolers who think they might want to program someday

Stay tuned to this space for how we may roll these out over the next year or so.

Training the Next Craftsmen

So my cousin's son discovered my name in a great article by Obie Fernandez (warning some frank, off-color language… do not read if that bothers you) entitled 10 Reasons Pair Programming is Not for the Masses.

This was shortly after a client struggling with some of his own developers pointed out What Makes Bad Programmers Different? which was a follow-up to What Makes Great Programmers Different?.

I go places and read and have experienced the reality that people who consider themselves good programmers (and some actually are) don't have much tolerance for those that don't measure up to their standards. When you ask most of them how they learned to be good programmers, you will typically find one of two answers:

  • I just picked it up along the way through self-study, or
  • I had a great mentor (or mentors) who really taught me a lot

In my experience, the best have had both and the ones who just picked it up are rarely as good as they think they are.

After the first few weeks of the Craftsmanship Academy, I am watching really bright guys who have picked up a lot on their own learn a ton. They are breaking bad habits that they've picked up on their own (or getting their hands figuratively slapped when they don't). These are things that aren't taught in most classes and aren't picked up on your own.

They are encouraged to do a lot of self-study. You can find stuff on the internet to help you do some technical feat you want to accomplish or overcome a problem that is not intuitively obvious. But there is so much stuff on the internet and no healthy curriculum through it that shows you how to develop good habits, recognize the philosophy of the person who is providing the info, or building any cohesive approach to the craft.

I am thrilled at what is happening with the future craftsman we are training. As Daniel Steinberg observed while he was here for a few days as we tackled applying these principles to iOS development, "the sky is the limit for these guys… what a great start they are getting."

CollegePlus! Partnership & Scholarship

Over a decade ago, I had the extreme pleasure of meeting Woody Robertson.

At the time, Woody was in charge of coordinating the Apprenticeship Track at the Advanced Training Institute's annual conference. He had sought me out to have me speak into the lives of a bunch of youthful homeschoolers trying to seek the Lord's direction in life and exploring the possibilities of Information Technology. I remember speaking to him about how this was a great track to get a bunch of young people exposed to the world of software development but it was far short of what apprenticeship was about. I also remember how impressed I was with the maturity, insight, and teachability of this young man.

We talked then about how colleges weren't the best place to prepare young people for a career in software development, and how there were many reasons that it was generally not a great place to spend four years of life. We spoke about our disappointment that there were not many good alternatives. I pointed out that, the way RoleModel Software was set up at the time, I could only take on one apprentice at a time, and I was unsure how to improve that. I shared that men couldn't just bemoan this fact, but needed to rise up and pioneer ways to provide, not just alternatives, but superior alternatives.

Around the same time, I had an apprentice named Matthew Bass. Matthew was another impressive young man and one of the pioneers trying to figure out similar things. He earned his Bachelor's degree without leaving home while working on his own entrepreneurial ventures, seeking to serve in various capacities, and gain wisdom from those who had gone before him.

A few years later, I found out that Woody had teamed up with Brad Voeller (another impressive young man with whom I was acquainted) and Ryan Yamane to found CollegePlus. They leveraged their unique talents and collective experience in navigating the waters of the accelerated learning techniques they used to get their Bachelor Degrees in between 6 years and 18 months. Over the last several years, I've kept in touch with these individuals and observed the fruit of CollegePlus in several young friends of mine. Not only is CollegePlus a great program, but I've come to further appreciate the vision that the founders have, their integrity, their ability to execute, and their attitude toward lifelong learning. This was exhibited a few years ago when they had grown and were seeking someone to head up their internal IT organization. They sought me out and, though I couldn't provide a direct candidate, I was impressed with their desire to not only find someone well qualified for the job, but also someone who shared their vision.

God provided Kevin Bridges as their IT Director, who quickly followed up with me to seek some assistance in helping them move along. When I challenged him on some of the technology choices they were making, he was also quite teachable. Kevin has done an incredible job in taking a few seeds I scattered, planting and watering them to the point that they have now have an IT shop that is quite impressive and practices what CollegePlus preaches.

I could go on about CollegePlus and how true they are to their Mission Statement, but instead, I'm just going to make an announcement.

CollegePlus and the Craftsmanship Academy are partnering.

NOTE: When this post was first published, RoleModel had offered partial scholarships to the Academy program. This is no longer relevant as the Academy's financial model has significantly changed from the time of this original post. In fact, the new financial model was influenced by CollegePlus' original apprenticeship program

CollegePlus enrollees and graduates interested in a career in software development are particularly encouraged to apply to the Academy by both CollegePlus and RoleModel Software.

This partnership of CollegePlus and the Craftsmanship Academy is, in many ways, the fruition of those conversations Woody and I had over a decade ago. In addition, RoleModel and CollegePlus are continuing to explore a variety of ways to help CollegePlus in their own apprenticeship and development needs.

We are thrilled to provide a path that combines the training in both theory and best practices to launch young people to a fruitful life of integrity in serving and providing great value for those they will serve in the future.

Timing Is Everything

Yes, we've been silent for several months. We've had many inquiries about the Academy and have been asking a lot of questions ourselves.

From the time we announced the Academy in October, we received a lot of feedback from many who were very interested in the concept, but weren't in a position to buy the product as packaged. In fact, the concept was very well-accepted by our target audience. The timing was not. One of the biggest issues was that our schedule did not line up well with commitments to others' academic years. We've spent a lot of time pondering internally how we can keep the concept, but make it more "user-friendly."

So, based on that feedback we are pleased to announce our new schedule with some exciting adjustments that will enable us address the needs of many would-be applicants who have expressed their strong desire to participate, but could not do so until now.

We have modularized and repackaged the Academy to better adapt to the calendar of our target audience, with multiple tracks for those in different situations. We've explicitly broken our immersion training into three distinct sessions, and provided multiple options for the second session. As a bonus, we've also added personal mentors for each participant, in addition to the very deep relationship that will be had with the lead instructor. Though it is our strong desire to see people through the entire program, we've also made it easier for participants to bite off smaller chunks of the program. Lastly, we've adjusted the financial package to make it a bit more approachable to some.

Accelerated Track

The accelerated track is consistent with our initial offering, but with a new start date.

July 9, 2012 - August 17, 2012
Skills Immersion - Part 1 - Craftsmanship in the Small (6 weeks resident, cost: $4,000)

September 4, 2012 - October 12, 2012
Skills Immersion - Part 2 - Craftsmanship that Scales (6 weeks resident, cost: $4,500)

October 29, 2012 - January 25, 2013
Project Immersion - Craftsmanship for Others (10 weeks resident over 13 calendar weeks, cost: $5,000)

February 4, 2013 - January 31, 2014
Paid Internship at an Agile Craftsmanship-Minded Company (1 year resident, paid: $24,000-36,000)

February 4, 2014 - February 7, 2014
Journeyman Certification test (4 day resident, cost: $500)

Coordinated Track

The coordinated track allows individuals to participate and benefit from the Academy while finishing other academic endeavors:

July 9, 2012 - August 17, 2012
Skills Immersion - Part 1 - Craftsmanship in the Small (6 weeks resident, cost: $4,000)

September 11, 2012 - May 3, 2013
Skills Immersion - Part 2 - Craftsmanship that Scales (30 weeks distance learning, cost: $4,500)

June 17, 2013 - August 23, 2013
Project Immersion - Craftsmanship for Others (10 weeks resident, cost: $5,000)

Option 1:

September 3, 2013 - August 29, 2014
Paid Internship at an Agile Craftsmanship-Minded Company (1 year resident, paid: $24,000-36,000)

September 2, 2014 - September 5, 2014
Certified Journeyman Certification test (4 day resident, cost: $500)

Option 2:

September 3, 2013 - May 30, 2014
Further directed self-study and application development (9-months distance, cost: $2,000)

June 2, 2014 - May 29, 2015
Paid Internship at an Agile Craftsmanship-Minded Company (1 year resident, paid: $24,000-36,000)

June 2, 2015 - June 5, 2015
Journeyman Certification test (4 day resident, cost: $500)

More Candidate Applicants

In the process of talking to potential applicants earlier in the year, we found a variety of really talented people who wouldn't have been able to apply with our last schedule. For example:

  • A rising homeschool junior who has been programming for several years in a variety of languages, has designed and implemented some very professional websites, has incredible maturity, and is finishing up a very demanding academic program.
  • A soon to be graduate of CollegePlus who has gotten a bachelors degree online in Computer Science but realizes he wants to be a software developer and is not prepared for it.
  • A standout programmer in a Junior college who has some classes to finish up.

We are looking forward to the premiere class of the Craftsmanship Academy with folks like these, and many others.