Codeup Grads Win CivTech Datathon

A screenshot of the winning project for the 2020 CivTech Datathon, created by Codeup Data Science grads.

Many Codeup alumni enjoy competing in hackathons and similar competitions. Now that we train Data Scientists, recent alumni have been competing in datathons, too. At the 2020 CivTech Datathon, teams from two Data Science cohorts, Bayes and Curie, took 1st and 2nd place! The Codeup community is killin’ it at these events and we can’t wait to highlight their achievements!

 

What is CivTech Datathon?

CivTechSA is a partnership between Geekdom, a coworking space that every current Codeup student has complimentary access to, and San Antonio’s Office of Innovation. In an effort to connect local communities, ideas, and data to help improve the City’s services, the CivTech Datathon competition was born! Using public datasets, competitors look for missing data and areas for improvement and identify impactful solutions to current civic problems. Then, they present their insights to City of San Antonio departments like San Antonio Water System (SAWS) and Via Metropolitan Transit.

Codeup Alumni Take First and Second Place in 2020

Boasting first place was the Curie team We Came, We SAWS, We Conquered with Ryan McCall, David Wederstrandt Sr., Chase Thompson, Cameron Taylor, and Jeremy Cobb. They used data from SAWS regarding sanitary sewer overflow (SSO) events and weather data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association to predict the root causes of SSO events. They generated a system that SAWS could use to prioritize maintenance of the sewers to limit the risk of these events, with the potential to save hundreds of millions of city dollars while keeping gastrointestinal health risks at bay.

Taking second place was team Get on the Bus with Sean Oslin, Sara Pena, Fredrick Lambuth, Misty Garcia, Kevin Eliasen, and Faith Kane. With their project, they aim to increase ridership of public transportation. Using open data from VIA and the Census Bureau Data API, this team identified areas of improvement to make our community more diverse and equitable by making buses more accessible.

We Won in 2019, Too

As a special shoutout, at the 2019 CivTech Datathon, a team from our very first Data Science cohort competed and won the “Most Solvable” award. The team members were Ednalyn C. De Dios, Joseph Burton, and Sandra Graham. Their project was similar to our Curie team – they trained a model to predict which pipes would overflow.

Want to Compete Next Year?

If you’re passionate about improving civic issues and want to present your findings to city stakeholders too someday, Codeup can teach you how! You might actually inspire lasting change (or at least get thousands of dollars in prize money)! If these Codeup students could win first and second place at the datathon, what’s stopping you? Click here to learn more about our Data Science program. Then, we’ll see you at next year’s CivTech Datathon!

How Codeup Alumni are Helping to Make Water

Codeup Alumni Help Make Water featuring Jacqueline Murralles, James Murralles, Ted Zamarron, and Carlos Teller

Imagine having a kit mailed to you with all the necessary components to make contaminated water clean. Cool, huh? Four of our alumni are helping to make that possible by partnering with the non-profit Elequa to design a website for their Make Water program. With this project, these Codeup alumni have the potential to make a global impact: Jacqueline Murralles, James Murralles, Ted Zamarron, and Carlos Teller. 

How Elequa is Making a Difference

The Make Water program inspires, educates, and equips people that want to make a tangible difference in the world. Elequa puts together DIY kits with the tools to purify water and delivers them to people that need them, locally and abroad. This project is also given to students in the San Antonio area, who in turn are challenged to research, tweak, and further develop the kits to make them better and more accessible. These problem-solving challenges engage students in the STEM field, inspiring teamwork and collaboration while making a difference that they can be proud of: helping to provide clean water.

How Codeup Alumni are Making a Difference

Currently, the Make Water program lacks a platform to house and share the data gathered by students to improve the kits, while also challenging other community members for further development. They needed help with the gamification of these processes to make participation more engaging. That’s where Codeup alumni Jacqueline Murralles, James Murralles, Ted Zamarron, and Carlos Teller came in. They are helping Elequa to build an open-source application for the Make Water program that turns community participation into a game where users can level up as they contribute and collaborate through an array of real-world challenges in water research, coding, hardware innovation, and creative storytelling.

Did we mention that they are working on this project as volunteers, as Codeup alumni often do? Codeup students are always looking for ways to challenge themselves, sharpen their skills, and make a difference, and that continues after graduation. To see more of the projects our students have worked on (and what you can do, too, with Codeup), check out these capstone presentations.

Alumni Share their Journey into Web Development

Alumni Bridget Mills and Eddy Bautista Share their Journey into Web Development

Everyone starts somewhere. Many developers out there didn’t grow up wanting to code. It’s something they fell into over time, much like two Codeup alumni, Bridget Mills and Eddy Bautista. These two software developers graduated from our Web Development class in December 2019. They came back for a virtual panel event to share their journey into web development and to give advice to people wanting to become a software developer.

 

What were you doing before Codeup?

Eddy had been a sales assistant for years and was a student at San Antonio College studying Kinesiology.

Bridget worked at a courthouse, but those career plans were altered after becoming a military spouse and moving. She went back to school for a degree in Information Technology (IT), specializing in System Engineering, and became an IT Specialist.

 

What led you to a career in coding?

When someone he knew mentioned coding, Eddy learned all he could and coded for three days using online courses and tutorials. He immediately knew this was what he wanted to do as a career. 

While Bridget was working at the lawyer’s office, a development team came in to help with court systems. She asked them questions and became fascinated by what they were doing. After deciding not to pursue law, she decided to go back to school for IT. Her job as an IT Specialist isn’t exactly what she had in mind, but her degree didn’t offer the coding experience necessary to become a developer, which was her true end goal. Even after moving to Hawaii and having two kids, that dream persisted. Her cousin, a developer, mentioned that some of her coworkers went to a coding bootcamp. With another kid and another move on the horizon, she decided she would enroll in a coding bootcamp when her family settled down in Texas. 

 

Why Codeup?

While researching how to become a developer, Eddy found Codeup. Our culture stood out to him, the admissions team was helpful, he liked that we offer help with the job search through resume assistance and interview training, and he really liked how plugged in we are to the San Antonio technology scene. He felt all the pieces coming together and could picture himself here.

For Bridget, it boiled down to the curriculum and hands-on experience. When she was in college, she learned a lot of theory, but didn’t get experience actually coding, which, as she learned the hard way, is what employers are really looking for. She looked into some options for coding bootcamps and Codeup stood out to her. It was big plus that even as a military spouse, she was able to use VA benefits. She loved our assistance with job placement, and noted that she had gone to school twice and neither college offered anything like that. 

 

What’s a typical day for you?

Currently, both panelists are working as developers for VIA Metropolitan Transit. Due to COVID-19, they’re both working from home.

Eddy usually starts his day early with a coding challenge on a website like Codewars. He has a virtual meeting with his mentor to discuss some code. For most of the day, they solve a problem or do some pair programming. They also have team meetings and daily standups.

Bridget is currently leading an Artificial Intelligence project with VIA that takes up most of her time. She usually has virtual meetings with members of her team, other teams at VIA, and contractors. She does documentation and uses programs to update the current status of her projects for the team to see. 

 

How is the work-life balance?

Coding is a hobby for Bridget. She takes her laptop with her from room to room, sometimes coding with her child in her lap. She loves it so much, she often works late unintentionally until her kids come in the room to check on her. Because of this, she doesn’t feel completely balanced but knows that it’s only because she loves it so much.

Eddy feels similarly, stating that when they do work late, it’s usually because they want to. The work-life balance has been good for him.

 

What advice would you give to someone thinking of attending Codeup’s Web Development program?

Bridget was nervous coming into Codeup, but it gave her everything she was looking for. Part of why she wanted to be a developer was because she thought they get to sit around alone, not having to interact with anybody. She very quickly realized this was not the case. “You have to speak up and you have to do it well, and often, with a lot of people. You’ll have to work hard, beyond the regular hours. Take advantage of all the resources. Schedule some meetups with peers to work together outside of class. It’s so worth it in the end. Just go for it!”

Eddy learned that keeping a part-time job is possible but really, really hard. He was one of the only students ever to finish Codeup while working a job, rushing to work right after class. He regrets doing that because he missed out on socializing and working together after hours. But when he had time, he always tried to work with other students to solve problems together, and encourages the same in others. “Break out of your comfort zone and don’t be scared to just start from where you are. The first couple weeks will be really hard, but learn to fall in love with the feeling of being stuck, because eventually you’ll be able to solve it.”

Bridget and Eddy are working together at VIA, but took very different pathways to get to where they are. Eddy hadn’t thought much about coding before deciding to dive right into it, whereas Bridget wanted a career as a developer for years. Whether coding is something you never gave much thought to or you’ve tried a different route before, you, too, can make a transition into web development with Codeup! If you’re interested in starting a career that you love in an ever-growing industry, apply today