Starting this past Saturday, a new cohort of college students in the New Haven area will have additional support planting their foot in Connecticut’s burgeoning startup scene.

Starting with the first cohort in spring 2013, the A100 program provides college students with free training and prepares them for paid internships with local startup companies in the New Haven area. Developed by Independent Software, a company that helps build the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the New Haven area, the A100 program helps teach students skills including front-end web development, prototyping and mobile application development. The program attracts current and recent undergraduates and graduate students majoring in STEM fields. Independent Software hosts most of the training sessions at a co-working space called The Grove located downtown on Chapel Street.

This winter’s cohort officially began training sessions last weekend and will participate in the training series during January and February. Over the course of the next year, through four different cohorts, 100 individuals will participate in the program. A100 Program Director Krishna Sampath declined to comment on how many people applied and were selected for the program this round. If these students perform well in the trainings, they will be eligible for a paid internship with a local startup, with the potential to be taken on as full-time software developers after the program finishes.

“We aren’t focused on taking people from 0-60,” Sampath said. “We are focused on getting people from 45-75, and the way we do that is apprenticing these students to a team of working software professionals in the community who are building real projects. Getting to work on those real projects is a much better way to learn the craft of software development than only learning the theory.”

Sampath added that, while universities are interested in educational outcomes, the A100 program focuses on finding a highly qualified staff and ensuring that participants in the program learn the skills necessary to excel as developers at participating companies. As a result, the software development businesses hiring are also involved in the training process. The A100 program has attracted many experienced trainers, including Senior Vice President of Technology at Continuity Control Joel Nimety.

Through the A100 program, participants use the same set of four open-source software programs, known as the LAMP stack, so that each person is using the same baseline language. Sampath said PHP, one of the languages included in the LAMP stack, is one of the most important development languages and is therefore the focus of the trainings.

“The program is set up to bring students in all over Connecticut and in the beginning, because we have people from different programs, we try to bring people together and do basic setup work so they have what they need to learn and code with cohort,” Independent Software Founder & CEO Derek Koch said.

Koch added that each week begins with training on Monday, followed by group work from Tuesday through Thursday, and each week ends with demonstrations of the websites or applications that members of the cohort have developed.

Sampath said only one Yale graduate participated in the spring 2013 cohort, and another is participating in this year’s program. He added that his goal is to attract more Yale Computer Science and STEM majors to the program.

Co-director of HackYale Rafi Khan ’15 said he had not heard of A100, but he thinks that this program would not only teach students valuable skills, but also help bridge the gap between the Yale tech community and the New Haven tech community..

A100 will open up applications for the next cohort after this session, Sampath said, adding that the goal is to create four cohorts over the course of the year.

The deadline for the next 2014 cohort is Feb. 15.