The 85 students from four Fairfax and Falls Church public schools expected to graduate yesterday from the Capital One Coders program at the Capital One headquarters in Tysons East. What they weren’t expecting were free laptops given away by the company to each of the graduates.
The Capital One Coders program trains local middle school students after school for ten weeks. Students learn the basics of programming and eventually work up to developing their own mobile applications.
Part of the surprise at the graduation was gifting each student their own laptop and giving a $10,000 grant to the schools for STEM education. The kids went home with the laptops, but the grants will go to the schools at the end of the spring semester.
“The coders program started in 2014,” said Jay Sanne, Vice President of Software Engineering for Capital One. “It is deployed in each of our major people centers. It’s had a great response from schools and associates.”
Sanne said the coders program is part of a commitment to building a 21st century workforce with technology skills.
Typically students develop games, although Sanne said the applications students build are often pretty sophisticated. Sanne noted there was one student early in the program who developed a mobile application to automate her family’s chicken coop so she wouldn’t have to leave the house to open up the coop and let the chickens out.
“It’s amazing to see them going from week one to week ten, where they’re demoing real mobile apps,” said Sanne. “We see the excitement in the kids as we’re teaching the program.”
At the graduation, the students at the Capital One Coders program also demonstrated their apps for parents and loved ones in attendance. Different prizes were awarded, like most creative or most technical.