YEI programming camp returns for second year

After a successful first year, the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute and Student Tech Collaborative will host a second intensive coding program this summer, doubling the size of participants and revamping some of the program’s curriculum.

The 10-week program — a collaborative effort between the two organizations — will host 30 Yale students on campus this year, compared to 15 last year. The program aims to teach basic coding skills to those with little programming experience.

Participants are selected from an applicant pool and awarded a scholarship covering the full cost of the program, as well as a $1,500 stipend for living expenses. Over the course of the summer, students complete two web-based programs as a means of launching an original business endeavor.

Though the program attracts students interested in computer programming and entrepreneurship, this year’s participants come from a wide range of majors, including English, chemistry, mechanical engineering and environmental studies. This year, 26 undergraduates and four graduate students will participate.

“We saw a need for more technical co-founders on campus,” said YEI Program Director Alena Gribskov. “We have a mission to help students start and grow new business ventures so they can build the companies they want to build.”

Within the program, students attend classroom lectures and apply their new skills to launching two projects in small groups. According to Gribskov, some of last year’s students have continued to build their businesses into the academic school year.

The 30 participants were selected from 127 applications and 66 finalists. In order to be accepted to the program, finalists were given a week to launch a project based on lessons learned in a three-hour workshop where they were taught basic programming and markup languages such as HTML, CSS and Javascript.

“We were looking for the desire to build compelling projects and for people that have a desire to make them real in the future,” Gribskov said.

For his application, Zach Young ’17 built a program that allows users to buy organic food directly from local suppliers. David Liu ’17 chose to create a crowd funding site for artists. Both Liu and Young will participate in this summer’s program.

Liu said he probably would not have applied for the program if it only emphasized computer programming.

“The business side is actually critical for me,” Liu said. “There are lots of programs where you can learn coding.”

The program sponsors field trips around New England to expose students to other tech startups and companies, including a trip to Google’s New York office. Speakers will also come to campus to share their perspectives on the intersection of entrepreneurship and programming.

Aaron Gertler ’15, who attended last year’s program, said building something from start to finish was the most satisfying part of the program. Gertler said computer programming instruction during the academic term is “not especially practical,” and that the summer program taught him the skills necessary to create a professional product.

“In Computer Science 201, you’re not going to learn to make a website or work on practical databases,” Gertler said. “They tend to focus on building structure from the ground up rather than using existing tools or frameworks.”

While in the program, Gertler created an online journaling app  meant to encourage people to contemplate and write about their lives.

YEI was founded in 2007.

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