Nonprofit and WU to bring free computer science course to St. Louis residents
Washington University and local nonprofit LaunchCode plan to offer free coding classes this spring for St. Louis residents interested in software development jobs.
The program will feature an online version of Harvard’s Introduction to Computer Science class, known as CS50x. Students will also attend twice-weekly class sessions, which will be held at LaunchCode’s Mentor Center on the Delmar Loop.
Most jobs in the technology industry require basic training and experience in coding for employment. In partnership with LaunchCode, which offers resources to people looking for software jobs, the School of Engineering & Applied Science and University College will help St. Louis residents who are not qualified for these jobs embark on the first steps towards positions in coding and developing.
The course will rely on undergraduate mentors from the School of Engineering & Applied Science to assist CS50x students during class sessions.
Director of Marketing and Admissions for University College Keli Jackson said the College was excited about the new program and partnership.
“We’re thrilled to partner with LaunchCode, in part because the mission of LaunchCode aligns really well with University College’s mission,” she said. “We focus a lot on training, education and improving opportunities for adults in St. Louis, and LaunchCode is doing that in a really exciting, unique way that truly makes a difference.”
Similarly, LaunchCode’s Education and Community Engagement Manager Crystal Martin was enthused that the partnership would make the courses more accessible to people who could not afford to take a computer science course.
“Just the opportunity to provide people with a world-class education for free is pretty exciting in and of itself,” Martin said.
As part of LaunchCode’s program, qualified students who complete the CS50x course will have the opportunity to be partnered with paid apprenticeships to gain additional experience needed for full-time employment. Based on employer feedback that employees needed improved communication and teamwork skills, the class will also include lessons on a collection of soft skills.
“That’s another important element that University College is able to bring to the table to enhance the coding curriculum,” Jackson said.
Sophomore Cathy Kuang, a former LaunchCode intern, was excited about how the partnership combined LaunchCode’s experience in job placement with Washington University’s resources such as undergraduate mentors.
“LaunchCode focuses more on job placement aspects…but they don’t focus a lot on the educational part. So, I think by partnering with Wash. U., it will tie in the job placement and the educational aspects really nicely,” Kuang said.
Editor’s note: Editor-in-chief Megan Magray has worked for LaunchCode. She was not involved with the production of this article.