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Navy Veteran Launches Code Bootcamp in Frisco

Kevin Harris

Kevin Harris is familiar with bootcamps. At 18, he went to bootcamp when he entered the U.S. Navy. Twenty-six years later, he’s launched his very own bootcamp. This one, however, is Frisco’s first code bootcamp presented by the Guild of Software Architects at the North Texas Enterprise Center (NTEC).

Having been in the tech industry for many years, Harris knew there was a demand for quality software developers, but four-year computer science majors are not graduating fast enough to meet that need.

Harris, 43, served in the military for four years before deciding to returning to civilian life. But after serving his country, Harris found that his technical job in the Navy did not necessarily translate to a technical job in the civilian world.

Post 9/11 veterans have unemployment rates that are consistently higher than the national average and higher than those of non-veterans.

Unfortunately, for many veterans it’s a common problem. Post 9/11 veterans have unemployment rates that are consistently higher than the national average and higher than those of non-veterans, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.

The most recent statistics released by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics shows the unemployment rate for veterans has increased from 4.2 percent in November 2015 to 5.7 percent in December 2015.

When Harris left the military in 1997, it was still the early days of the Internet, so finding information about the Internet, ironically, was difficult. He gathered what information he could and taught himself to code.

He started out by convincing a small mom-and-pop company to let him work for free. He wanted to show them his skills, and once he had proven himself, they began to pay him a small salary.

Over the course of 17 years, Harris continued building his career, eventually climbing the ladder to become Fossil’s lead wearables architect. He’s also an adjunct professor of SMU’s Guildhall, which is a nationally recognized masters program in video game development.

Veterans continue to struggle with underemployment, including part-time work, and positions that don’t utilize their full skill set.

But while he was able to find meaningful work and grow his career, many veterans don’t. Even now, veterans continue to struggle with underemployment, including part-time work, and positions that don’t utilize their full skill set, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.

In 2015, code bootcamps saw a 138 percent growth, compared to the previous year, with more than 16,000 students graduating from code bootcamp programs across the country, according to Course Report, a comprehensive database for information, reviews, and resources.

Seventy-five percent of code bootcamp graduates are successful in finding full-time employment that utilizes the skills they learned at bootcamp, according to Course Report.

Aware that code bootcamps are found primarily on the East and West Coasts, Harris wanted to bring the opportunity to the Dallas – Fort Worth region.

With the help of NTEC, a business accelerator in Frisco, Harris launched the Guild of Software Architects, where he offers core code fundamentals, night classes, general mentorships, and a 12-week full-time code bootcamp. Following the program graduates are qualified to work as a junior developers in the workforce.

The Guild of Software Architects gives military veterans and their spouses a 50 percent discount on their tuition to the code bootcamp.

Harris hopes he can help veterans make the most of their leadership skills, determination and resilience, by teaching them a new skill that is in high demand.

Harris hopes he can help veterans make the most of their leadership skills, determination and resilience, by teaching them a new skill that is in high demand. Bootcamp graduates leave the program with a portfolio to show prospective employers.

The armed forces have often said, “Leave no man behind,” and with Guild/SA’s bootcamp, Harris is certainly doing his part.

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Susy Solis is president of Solis Media Strategies. She is former journalist who often works with startups and entrepreneurs and is the PR adviser at the North Texas Enterprise Center, or NTEC.

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