Education/Training Featured Nevada City June 28, 2018 BY Erika Kosina

Meet-ups fill the education gap for the Nevada County tech community

The tech industry moves quickly. It’s hard for schools to keep up with the hottest new programming language, the hundreds of new digital marketing tools, and emerging technologies like the virtual and augmented reality space. These areas are where peer-to-peer learning shine, and the Connected Communities Academy (the educational arm of Nevada County Tech Connection), supports four different Meet-ups to promote skill building and networking for the Nevada County tech community: JavaScript, Free Code Camp, VR, and Nevada County Online.

Nevada County JavaScript Meet-up

 

Javascript Meet-up

The Nevada County JavaScript Meet-up (NCJS) is a great example of how a peer-to-peer learning group evolved to meet the needs of its audience and the changing tech landscape. This weekly 2-hour Meet-up started as a general coding get-together: “Code and Coffee.” After a few months, founder Kyle Conrad realized that the Nevada County tech community would be better served by more structure and focus, and he picked JavaScript as a unifying coding theme for the group. “I wanted to unify people and give them something where they could all relate and network,” he said.

NCJS is geared towards people who know the basic language, and want to develop their JavaScript skills. Anyone interested in learning moreabout JavaScript can attend. Each week there is a 15-30 minute presentation on a given JavaScript topic (e.g.: how to design a basic server, front-end prototyping with Chrome dev tools), following by networking, mentoring, and solving programming challenges.

freeCodeCamp Meet-up

 

Free Code Camp MeetUpIf you are just learning to code, the freeCodeCamp Meet-up is for you. It’s the local branch of a global open source educational project (freeCodeCamp) whose goal is to teach people how to code. Co-founders Ryan Trauntvein, who is an Enterprise Support Engineer at GitHub.com, and Remington Maxwell, a Software Engineer at Grass Valley, a Belden Brand, started it as a way to promote technology in our community, and to provide a forum for the local tech community to get together and socialize. It has the added benefit of increasing tech skills in our community. “The skills you learn are real, and needed in the tech industry,” said Trauntvein. “Beginners who started with us a year ago are now doing professional level projects and working in the tech industry.”

The Meet-up attracts a diverse crowd, from 13-year-old middle school students to retirees from all walks of life. It’s targeted at beginning coders, but experienced industry professionals also attend and act as mentors. Maxwell wanted to make sure the group was accessible: “It’s less intimidating than a hacker Meet-up or something that seems more advanced and open, which is why we get the variety of people that we do.”

VR Meet-up

Programmers interested in exploring an emerging technology might be interested in the Virtual Reality (VR) Meet-up. The Nevada County VR/XR Meet-up is a monthly “all hands for the curious,” says co-founder Alan Moore. He and co-founder Shaun Case started the Meet-up after taking a VR class at the Connected Communities Academy, and wanted to keep it going. “I’ve been programming since I was 13,” said Moore, “and I’ve never seen anything this transformative. It’s hard to explain how immersive it is until you experience it.” The Meet-up provides a forum for Nevada County’s tech community to work together on XR (Virtual, Mixed, and Augmented Reality) projects and expand their skill sets. The best part? You get to play with VR/AR equipment, including two Vive HMDs and two Oculus HMDs. Members also bring in their own equipment including Mixed Reality (MR), Augmented Reality (AR) and 3D depth cameras.

Interested members of the Nevada County tech community can attend one of the group’s VR-related technical lectures and workshops, and approximately once a month the general public is invited to try their hand at working with VR content. You don’t have to be technically inclined to participate — the group is always looking for content creators to collaborate with.

Nevada County Online

Nevada County Online Meet-up

NCTC’s fourth Meet-up, Nevada County Online (NCO) is also not just for techies. Nevada County

Online was created to give Nevada County’s small business owners a venue to learn from experts, network, and share tips and best practices for growing their businesses online, and at 410 members it prides itself on being the largest marketing and business Meetup group in Nevada County. “It’s for small business owners,” says co-facilitator Jordan Enright-Schultz, who consults for small businesses on marketing and business strategy. “We have consultants, solopreneurs, artists (painters and weavers who want to sell online), stores, and yes, some tech companies.”

NCTC took over and revived the group earlier this year, refocusing it with an eye on making marketing technologies more accessible and valuable to our community. It’s a broad topic, but NCO doesn’t want to focus on any one area. Richard Sink, business advisory mentor, coach and consultant, and NCO’s other facilitator, wants this Meet-up to serve the needs of the small business community. “As we get more input from the audience, we will begin to explore more specific topics around what they want us to deliver,” he said.

All of these Meet-ups (except freeCodeCamp, which rotates among local technology companies) take place at the Nevada County Tech Hub at 104 New Mohawk Road in Nevada City. More information on the Nevada County Tech Connection Events Calendar. See you at a Meet-up!