The Iron Yard expands to downtown Charleston

By Liz Segrist
lsegrist@scbiznews.com
Published Jan. 27, 2014

Greenville-based The Iron Yard plans to close on space in downtown Charleston today to expand its coding and Web development school, Chief Marketing Officer Eric Dodds said.

The Iron Yard Academy will accept up to 15 students for a three-month, full-time coding and programming school that will launch here in March. The site location has not been disclosed yet, Dodds said.

Coding professionals from local companies teach students coding languages, and then help the students land jobs with their new skills.

Mason Stewart teaches at the Iron Yard Academy coding school in Greenville. (Photo/Provided)
Mason Stewart teaches at the Iron Yard Academy coding school in Greenville. (Photo/Provided)
Charleston is becoming known as a tech hub that continues to attract more venture capital, cultivate talent and nourish expansions. In recent months, PeopleMatter discussed plans to expand internationally, and Benefitfocus announced plans for an expansion of its Daniel Island campus with 1,200 hires. Smaller tech firms also have announced new products, like Sparc and Zubie, or expansion plans, like Blue Acorn.

Amid the tech growth in what has been called Silicon Harbor, many tech companies’ executives and human resources managers lament the need for more talent, specifically Web developers, software engineers and coding professionals.

The Charleston Digital Corridor also works to tackle workforce development issues in the tech sector. It operates its own coding school, which offers night classes, and its working on its third incubator, Flagship 3, in downtown Charleston. The Iron Yard is providing another education option.

“We have relationships with tech companies in Charleston, and there was an overwhelming response that they need more talent,” Dodds said. “They said ‘please make this happen in Charleston.’”

The Iron Yard guarantees a job offer within six months of graduation — or students get a refund. The Iron Yard Academy recently graduated its third class of programmers in Greenville. Dodds said no refunds have been given so far.

A student can come in with no background writing code and leave as a professional, junior-level program coder or Web developer, Dodds said. The Greenville classes have graduated former food and beverage professionals, assembly line workers, journalists and musicians.

“We do not require any code background. ... What we really look for in people is if they have a genuine interest in working in technology and learning code. You have to enjoy the craft of problem solving, and you have to be an extremely hard worker,” Dodds said. “Our classes are very difficult.”

How it works
The Charleston school will initially offer two programs: front-end engineering and rails engineering. The Iron Yard will soon add mobile engineering to focus on iOS applications, Dodds said, and is looking for a teacher for the mobile program.

Students will spend 9 a.m. to noon in lectures Mondays through Thursday. The afternoons and Fridays will be spent in a lab working on projects. Assignments are given daily. Students should expect to put in long hours — at least 60 per week — to complete the demanding coursework, Dodds said.

The academy costs $9,000 for tuition, or $10,000 for tuition and a new Macbook. Students that pay up-front get a discount. Students can also opt to pay in increments over six months.

Graduates will get help preparing a portfolio and resumes and performing mock interviews.

“We bring in professional designers and developers from lots of companies in the Charleston area like Benefitfocus and Blue Ion,” Dodds said. “Students get lots of exposure to people they hope to work for when they graduate.”

As it launches in Charleston, The Iron Yard looks to expand to other markets throughout the Southeast. Dodds said the group recently hired code teachers in Atlanta and is looking to close on commercial space there as well.

In Charleston, The Iron Yard also is creating an advisory board of leaders from local tech companies. The application process for students is now open and classes begin March 17.

“We don’t look for a preexisting skill set,” Dodds said. “We are looking for a preexisting mindset.”

Reach Liz Segrist at 843-849-3119 or @lizsegrist on Twitter.

Previous coverage
Iron Yard to expand code school

The Iron Yard launches coding school

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