HackYale to launch open workshops

The roughly 240 students not admitted to this fall’s HackYale lecture course will have the opportunity to attend new workshops HackYale is planning to introduce later this semester.

HackYale, a student group founded last year by Will Gaybrick LAW ’12 and Bay Gross ’13, received roughly 300 applications for its survey lecture course, which provides an introduction to website design and programming. Zack Reneau-Wedeen ’14, HackYale director, said the new workshop series will give students a chance to learn about their interests without making a semester-long commitment, adding that some students’ attendance diminished in courses offered last spring as the semester progressed.

“In the workshops, students can get the same knowledge and reward from HackYale without the time-block commitment all semester,” Reneau-Wedeen said. “[The workshops will be] a lot more flexible, and Yale students who are busy need that flexibility.”

Reneau-Wedeen said he hopes to hold workshops twice per week and cover a range of programming topics, such as how to use Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator, adding that the first workshop will likely meet before the end of September. Gross said the new workshop series will allow the group to remodel the popular elements of the more specialized seminars last spring.

Several students interviewed, who either decided against applying to the lecture course or were not admitted, said they were interested in attending the workshops. Juliet Liu ‘14 said she doesn’t have time to add an entire course onto this semester’s course load, but as a film studies major with a production concentration, workshops on applications like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator would be useful for her coursework and future jobs.

“I would make time for a topical workshop that fits my interests,” Liu said.

Gross said he hopes the workshops will serve as a model for future expansion beyond programming courses to include other “trendy vocational” skills courses that do not fit into the liberal arts curriculum.

“We would want to do courses on things like design, video editing, venture capital, raising money, public speaking, all growing out of the ‘students teaching other students’ model,” Reneau-Wedeen added.

The roughly 300 students who applied for lecture course marked a sharp drop from last fall, when about 600 students applied. Reneau-Wedeen attributed the decline to the fact that over 100 students took HackYale courses last year and that the lecture time was set before applications were due — a departure from last fall. Also, HackYale decided to reduce its advertisement in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and the professional schools, in part since the group received an “overwhelming” number of applications from graduate students last year.

For the roughly 60 to 70 students taking the lecture course, HackYale has increased the size of its staff to provide office hours, as the group noticed last year that students could have benefited from more “one-on-one” support outside of the classroom, Reneau-Wedeen said.

The lecture course met in various locations around campus last year, but this fall it will meet regularly at the newly opened Center of Engineering, Innovation and Design (CEID), which provides space and research equipment for engineering students and faculty. Reneau-Wedeen said he is excited to teach “with a web developer down the hall actually coding a website, and an engineer a few floors up designing a new product.”

Applications to the lecture required students to answer multiple choice questions about programming, explain why they wished to apply and then write “something funny.” The course met for the first time Tuesday.

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