CodeLab517: Lansing's new coding boot camp


In a changing job climate integrating more web and digital technology, the ability to code will be the literacy of the future.

Instructors Erik Gillespie and Katie Fritz aim to provide coding lessons to those interested in becoming more tech savvy with their new program CodeLab517, a collaboration with Lansing Codes, Lansing Economic Area Partnership and Lansing Regional SmartZone.

“Even if you don't want to change careers it’s a good skill to have, because tech is taking over a lot of different things,” Gillespie said. “There is a growing expectation where people need to know more than spreadsheets, and having a grasp of digital literacy will help.”

For $1,000 tuition, participants can enter a three-week course teaching over 20 modules, including the basics of coding HTML, CSS, JavaScript and Git. It will last three weeks and meet six times a week from Oct. 15 to Nov. 3. The lessons will run out of the Potter’s Mill mixed use studio space at 701 E. South St. Students can expect to spend 30 to 40 hours a week learning.

Scholarships are available, with donations from LEAP reducing tuition to $250, and some students had employers pay for the cost as well, Gillespie said.

“Our teaching approach is not a lecture at a whiteboard,” he said. “We are empowering people to learn at their own pace, giving them the support and confidence to do so.”

Students will not be left behind if they cannot keep up, and learning will be personalized where every person can go at a comfortable pace.

“It is really cool to see the students click after they've been anxious and make things,” Fritz said. “It is a powerful feeling to be able to solve a problem and create something. A lot of people think coding is just math, but it really is a tool to be creative.”

Gillespie said a big misconception is that coding is only math and typing.

“There are programs that are drag and drop that children can operate. My 5-year-old daughter loves this app called ‘Coji,’ which is a little robot you can give instructions,” he said.

“The program wants you to move a robot around a chair for example. A kid as young as three can understand what it takes for them to get around a chair, and it isn't that big of a leap to be able to tap some buttons and get a robot to do the same.”

Another stigma is that the tech-world is purposefully crowded with men, Gillespie said.

“We are trying really hard to balance that out and be more supportive. Over half our applicants have been women.”

The learning process will be similar to how professional software developers work on problems by breaking them down into small enough chunks, Gillespie said.

“In three weeks you won’t be a senior developer, but you will know enough to create the first draft of what you want to make,” Fritz said.

Gillespie previously worked as a software developer for two local companies. He saw his career going down two paths: Management and system design or helping others learn to code.

“I chose to embark on something where I’m able to impact more than just twenty people working at a company,” Gillespie said.

Visit for more information and registration.


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