Codeup Launches Data Science Program to Meet Demand in San Antonio

By Iris Gonzalez
A closeup of laptops of two students in a Codeup web developer class. Photo credit: Startups San Antonio.

San Antonio-based career accelerator Codeup announced Monday it would offer a new data science training program. Codeup plans for two cohorts in 2019. The inaugural class begins Feb. 4, 2019, with 25 available slots. Codeup recently expanded its space on the third and sixth floors in the downtown Vogue Building at 600 Navarro St. to accommodate growth and make room for the new program.

Michael Girdley, Jason Straughan, and Chris Turner opened Codeup in 2013, offering its 18-week coding boot camp-style workforce development program for aspiring software developers. Since launching, the company has grown from its roots as a boot camp into a local institution focused on meeting demand for talent in San Antonio’s growing technology ecosystem.

“Codeup is building a data science program in a big evolution of the company from software engineering talent to data scientists, too,” Michael Girdley, who also serves as Codeup’s chairman, tweeted Sept. 10.

Director of development Dimitri Antoniou said Codeup’s data science course would be the only such program offered in the city.

“We saw an explosion in employer need for data scientists here but not much supply,” Antoniou said. “The demand mirrors the growth for these skills elsewhere in the country.”

By 2020, the number of data science and analytics job listings is projected to grow to about 2.7 million positions, with annual demand for the fast-growing new roles of data scientist, data developers, and data engineers reaching nearly 700,000 openings. Advertised data scientist jobs pay an average of $105,000.

Tuition for the 18-week data science course costs $22,500. Scholarships are available for women, ethnic minorities, veterans, first responders, members of the LGBTQIA community, and people who relocate to San Antonio to study at Codeup.  Codeup is also a private-sector partner with Alamo Colleges for its $2 million U.S. Department of Labor grant for workforce training. Since Codeup began accepting the G.I. Bill in July 2016, veterans have made up 25 percent of their student population.

“We’re one of the few boot camps in the U.S. that accepts G.I. bill benefits for web developers,” Antoniou said. “We are in the process of securing the same approval for the forthcoming data scientist program.”

Codeup is unique as compared to other boot camps and career accelerators because programs are tailored to the specific needs of local employer partners, said Straughan, who is also Codeup’s CEO. When Codeup first started teaching PHP, a server scripting language for creating webpages, feedback from partners like USAA and Accenture pointed to a need for more skills in the all-purpose computer programming language Java, not PHP. Codeup boasts partnerships with over 100 employers, including HEB, WP Engine, Rackspace, and non-tech companies like Labatt Food Service.

Students work in a Codeup web developer class. Photo credit: Startups San Antonio.
Students work in a Codeup web developer class. Photo credit: Startups San Antonio.

“We learned that we have a competitive advantage by teaching exactly what employer partners needed most in their hiring,”  Straughan said. “They told us they need people skilled in data science and what kind of tools they need to use, so we could reverse engineer our curriculum to fulfill their workforce needs.”

Data science, at its most basic, is the methodology used to gain insights and develop actionable information from data. Qualifications for admission into the data science class include a working knowledge of math, probability and statistics, and computer programming. Experience in information technology and/or business domain expertise is helpful for prospective students so they can leverage their newly acquired data science skills in the business enterprise where they will work.

“The number of data-focused startups is only growing in San Antonio,” said Maggie Giust, Codeup senior data scientist. “On top of that, larger companies like H-E-B, Rackspace, and USAA are growing their data science capabilities across all areas of their business. This program will provide a pipeline of well-rounded data scientists for employers to hire right here in San Antonio.”

One employer partner is Quick Path, which helps enterprises make intelligent decisions at scale using advanced analytics and machine learning. The Geekdom startup works with Fortune 500 and 1000 companies to optimize their business decisions using machine learning, whether it is to personalize their marketing for better customer experiences, detect early signs of financial fraud and money laundering, or produce data-driven recommendations for businesses.

“For the past three years we’ve managed to double in size each year, but the single biggest factor holding us back is the lack of data scientists, decision science analysts, data engineers, and data wranglers—all related roles supporting the data analytics ecosystem,” said co-founder Alex Fly. “These are the people who help businesses convert data into insights to make smarter decisions for more growth and revenue.”

Fly worked with Codeup in their data science curriculum development and said he already plans to hire two to three graduates from the first class.

“Most data scientists come from academic programs,” Fly said. “If you come from a purely academic background, there’s time involved in training them because they lack knowledge of the business domain and IT enterprise side. If we’re getting people with IT expertise or with business domain knowledge undergoing Codeup’s data science program, these ‘hybrid’ people will be invaluable.”

Codeup continues to recruit employer partners with specific data science hiring needs, as well as seeking advisors for its board overseeing the data science program.

“The future of the modern tech workforce is based on software and data science—and tech requires smart people to do smart things in smart jobs,” Straughan said. “It’s exciting to see how San Antonio’s tech economy is growing.”

Featured image shows the laptops of two students in a Codeup web developer class. Photo credit: Startups San Antonio.

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