The History of Our Coding Bootcamp

Dan Pickett

By Dan Pickett

 

You know Launch Academy today as a Course Report-acclaimed coding bootcamp. We’ve spent years honing our program to help students develop software engineering skills and find gainful employment. But as is often the case at the start of something big, it took us some time to find our footing.

 

We’ve spent years honing our program to help people develop software engineering skills and find gainful employment. But as is often the case at the start of something big, it took us some time to find our footing.

 

Establishing a successful coding bootcamp has been a long journey—and we want to share how we got here so you can better understand our roots. 

 

Building Community in Software Development

Dan Pickett, Founder of Launch Academy, is a software engineer by trade and an entrepreneur at heart. 

He ran a small software development consultancy in Boston in 2010 that helped early-stage entrepreneurs and startups build lean, optimized software infrastructure at each phase of their companies’ growth. Dan specialized in Ruby on Rails, an emerging framework at the time, and the consultancy delivered products to clients utilizing the framework. 

Through his consultancy, he made solid connections and built a flourishing community in the tech industry. These connections would prove invaluable to Launch Academy down the road.

Still, the consultancy’s business model wasn’t yet distinguished enough from the competition. Dan began to brainstorm the next logical evolution for the company. 

He recalled the professional development engagements he’d done with an organization called RailsBridge, which teaches people with no coding experience how to write software. Dan’s work with RailsBridge had ignited a passion for teaching, and he wondered if there was an opportunity for his consultancy to get involved with tech education. 

 

The Beginning of Launch Academy 

At first, Dan proposed a professional development and training model to help engineers who work on outdated operating systems learn new tech. The idea was to work with recruiters to reskill engineers and make them more marketable. But it quickly became apparent that recruiters weren’t interested in the concept. 

Around that time, coding bootcamps began to arrive on the scene. The year was 2011, and Dan had just met Evan Charles through a mutual connection at RailsBridge. 

While Dan was attempting to break into the tech education industry, Evan was looking to complete a coding program. They realized that their values, goals, and perspectives aligned and that they could build a successful program together. 

Launch Academy was founded the following year, in August 2012. 

 

Perfecting the Program 

With Dan’s connections in the industry, and his and Evan’s combined abilities to execute their vision and teach coding effectively, Launch Academy was off to a strong start. But it was the initial students who helped develop the coding bootcamp into the incredible program it would become. 

The students in the first couple of cohorts were generous enough to speak with Dan and Evan in depth about their experiences. Dan and Evan took the students’ feedback to heart, consistently evolving the structure of the bootcamp to better suit the needs of novice coders

One major takeaway from these conversations was that the program was far more traditional than Dan and Evan had envisioned. They’d set out to create a non-traditional learning experience but had instead developed a typical instructor-led program, where students sat behind desks and teachers taught from the front of the classroom. 

The duo used this as a learning opportunity and recommitted to their original vision of creating a truly unique experience at Launch. They worked to develop more kinesthetic, challenge-based learning opportunities, such as pair programming, which allows students to work hands-on in teams, similar to how they will in their future jobs. 

They also embraced the flipped classroom approach. In a flipped classroom, lectures take place outside of class hours, and students spend their classroom time implementing their learnings with peers and instructors.

By the time Dan and Evan taught their third cohort, they’d hit their stride and had honed the foundations of Launch into the coding bootcamp that it is today. But all these years later, the Launch Academy team continues to evolve to meet students’ needs. Over time, they’ve pivoted the focus of the curriculum from Ruby on Rails to JavaScript, incorporated a robust career services program to help graduates land their dream jobs, and continued to expand the curriculum to align with industry developments.

Launch Academy always has been and always will be an ever-changing program designed to provide the most value to students. Our story is still writing itself—and that’s exciting! 

Want to learn more about what to expect during your Launch experience? Check out our syllabus for all the details!