It’s The Right Time To Learn To Code: At The Lansing Code Lab

1 Million. That’s the number of computing/tech jobs that will be open, and unable to be filled, by the year 2020. $500 billion. That’s the dollar amount of opportunities available to those who know how to code. Whether you are a startup founder, or simply looking to gain a skill that will help move you…


1 Million.

That’s the number of computing/tech jobs that will be open, and unable to be filled, by the year 2020.

$500 billion. That’s the dollar amount of opportunities available to those who know how to code.

Whether you are a startup founder, or simply looking to gain a skill that will help move you forward, taking the time to learn computer programming is a valuable step in your career. Now, Lansing Code Lab offers the opportunity to take that step right here in East Lansing. 


Chris Fritz

Jesse Flores

The Down-Low (Or, the DL, the 411, the Stitch)

Starting now, people in Lansing can enroll in a course that will, after 3-4 months, teach them how to build their own web app.

Classes begin in September, and  participants will learn how to code using primarily Ruby and JavaScript, popular web languages (though, you don’t have to know what these are to join the class!). Taught by Chris Fritz and a number of guest instructors, students will, by the end of the class, walk away not only with a new skill, but multiple finished products and real world examples of their work.

Chris is well prepared to teach a class like this. Having taught tech classes for the Lansing School District, LCC, MSU, various non-profits and community centers, he also practices what he preaches. He works as a full stack web developer, contributes to many open source projects, and has also worked for a successful New York startup that was purchased by Twitter.

“Every time we get together we will do an activity where, by the end of class, you will have created a product from scratch and pushed it live,” says Chris. “Starting from the first day.”

Students will walk away knowing how to do something they didn’t know before and have something to show for their efforts. It will be up to them what they do with it.

“They could simply walk away with a new skill or start on the path to becoming a full-time developer.”

Where the Idea Came From:

The dearth of software developers and code-literate people is a huge problem. One so large that Mark Zuckerburg, Bill Gates, 3 United States Presidents, and a whole host of other innovators, politicians, celebrities, and artists are urging to make computer science a requirement in all schools. As the world becomes increasingly connected and software increasingly prevalent, code-illiteracy will be as serious a problem as functional illiteracy.

Many people around the country are working to solve this problem in a variety of ways. From online courses such as Code School or Codeacademy, to full-fledge immersive bootcamps, it is a problem that needs to be solved.

While founders Jesse and Chris admit that a class to teach code is not a totally new idea, they sympathize with the problem. They think it’s particularly urgent in Lansing, which lacks the infrastructure of other places, from a talent and technical perspective. “I think one of the things that holds the region back from the kind of growth you see in other parts of the country,” says Jesse, “is the lack of tech talent available here. We want to address that problem.”

“Purely online courses such as Code School and Codeacademy are fantastic resources, but if you’re starting from scratch, you can spend a week on those sites and still have nothing to show for it. When you sit down to build something real, you don’t know where to start,” says Chris.

Coding bootcamps are currently available but often require massive commitments, designed for people who want to make significant career changes. But learning to code is useful whether you want to be become a full-time programmer or not.

“No matter what you do, code can help you do it better. I coded a personal assistant that saves me about 20 hours per week. It never forgets to do something.” And it works for free. Even in my non-code work, programming allows me to have both high productivity and an abundance of free time. It improves my whole life,” says Chris.

[Tweet “No matter what you do, code can help you do it better. via @StartupLansing”]

Lansing Code Lab is geared toward those that want to learn to build stuff, but can’t invest a large amount of time, money, or energy. “You don’t have to take eight weeks out of your life, you don’t have to quit your job,” says Jesse.

Jesse and Chris decided they wanted to offer an open, inviting environment, where people weren’t intimidated by the thought of getting started.

Should You Learn Computer Programming? Who can attend?

Code Lab is open to anyone, 18 and up, that wants to learn to code. 

They are restricting the first class to 20 students (so hurry up and register!) and will likely change that number and the age restriction in the future. But, for the pilot, the restriction guarantees that they can help everyone in the time specified.

Potential attendees should be aware that no coding experience is necessary to join the class. “We will change the class based on what people know,” says Chris. “If enough people don’t know something, we will feed the need.”

“There’s also this misconception that you have to be great at math or science or super, super smart, to learn computer programming,” says Jesse, “and we want to dispel that myth. Anyone with a little curiosity and willingness can learn to code.”

[Tweet “Anyone with a little curiosity and willingness can learn to code. via @startuplansing”]

Who Benefits?

This course is ideal for startup founders who want to build an app, but have no development experience (in fact, all founders should learn computer programming…).

But, if you have problems to solve that involve information or people, you’ll also benefit. If you want to learn a skill that is not only going to be handy now, but probably essential for any employable person in 20 years, you’ll benefit. If you are tired of wasting time on repetitive tasks, you’ll benefit.

What Will Students Take Away?

“A huge part of coding is learning how to look at problems,” says Chris, “How to break them down, organize them. It’s essential when you’re writing code.” Those are things you have to do whether the problem involves writing code or not. But learning to code gives you the skills to approach all problems with a coder’s mindset.

“Software developers seem sharp to people, largely because they’ve learned the skill of being able to take a systems-view of things,” says Jesse, “that skill in and of itself is tremendously valuable because, once you can see the whole through the parts, dissect it, and rearrange it into different parts, you can approach almost every problem in a more innovative way than most other people. This isn’t merely a talent, it’s a learned skill that anyone can pick up with practice.”

Attendees will also walk away with a number of finished projects, a skill that qualifies you for over 200,000 jobs and the ability to build an app.

Top 3 Reasons To Sign Up:

So, after all that, if you still need more you should sign up, here are the top 3.

  • Fight the Computers: Computers are going to take over the world. Ok, maybe not, but, they are doing more and more of our jobs. And, according to Chris, there will come a time where, “If you can’t code, you’ll be just as unemployable as you would be if you couldn’t read or write.” Jesse agrees, adding that knowing how to manipulate software can save you time and effort in everyday life. “You can automate things most people have to spend hours doing.”
  • Meet All The People: “Classes like this give you the chance to meet other, interesting people, who are all chasing interesting dreams,” says Jesse. Everyone may have their own reasons and start the class in different places and on different levels, but it’s a group of people taking charge of their lives to do – and build – cool stuff.”
  • Fun is Fun: Coding is fun. Hard to believe? Well, believe it. “It’s fun learning how to do something, building it, and being able to see it front of you,” says Jesse. “And it’s fun when you see jobs you used to spend hours doing, done for you by a computer.”
  • Bonus, Save Some Money– (Yea, this is reason 4 but hey, saving money is a pretty good reason) It’s only 99 bucks a month. Compared to bootcamps and other programming programs, that’s pretty darn cheap.

[Tweet “It’s fun to see jobs you used to spend hours doing being done by a computer. via @startuplansing”]

“It may sound weird, but at the end of the day, learning computer programming is starting point for freedom. Freedom to make your own tools. Freedom to create and pursue your own opportunities. Freedom to thrive in an economy that increasingly relies on technology over labor,” says Jesse. “It’s productive, it’s economically beneficial, and it’s fun. The question really isn’t why should you do it…it’s why wouldn’t you?

learn computer programming at the lansing code lab

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