Can Develop Detroit Make You a Talented Mobile Developer in 90 Days?

Starting June 11th, Develop Detroit kicks off its inaugural twelve-week program that promises to take attendees from coding novice, to capable mobile developer — able to build an iPhone or iPad application at will.

The project is the brainchild of Mike Vichich, a former employee of Management-consulting firm Accenture, who recently moved into the startup scene with a mobile payments startup of his own, called Glyph. Through outreach to established developers and business owners throughout Southeast Michigan, Vichich has assembled a team of coaches and ‘mentors’ that will work with students over the course of twelve weeks to conceptualize (and ultimately develop) a mobile app of their own choosing.

The course will take place two evenings a week (Monday and Wednesday) with the hope to have a first-year class size of 20-30 students.

Dave Koziol of Arbor Moon will be leading many of the course sessions and carries a passion for training and conferencing, having worked with the MacHack conference for about a decade — a well established organization that predated IOS development. More recently, Koziol started CocoaHeads Ann Arbor, a group that meets once a month with developers ranging from Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, to Toledo, and the Greater Detroit area.

As of late, Arbor Moon and Koziol have worked with Mobile Monday Ann Arbor to teach a number of Intro to IOS courses, and hopes that Develop Detroit can continue to strengthen Michigan’s talent base. “We’re doing all we can to move the developer community forward in Southeast Michigan,” says Koziol. “There are plenty of talented individuals out of work as a product of the struggles in the auto industry.”

The hope is that the course will have broad appeal to many individuals, from those seeking a career transition to recent Computer Science grads looking to hone their mobile development skills. The course, says Koziol, would prove invaluable for anyone with an innate interest in Mobile development.

Tom Crawford, an adjunct professor who taught a course focused on Mobile Design at Michigan State University in the fall of last year, will be doing several sessions focused on user experience.

Priya Rajagopal, Principal Engineer at Barracuda Networks, will be aiding Develop Detroit by participating as a mentor for the first class. Rajagopal stated:

“Mobile development is fast becoming an essential component of any successful business. Whether you are looking to build a business around mobile apps or to mobilize your existing business, the opportunities are endless. As a freelance iOS app developer, I can vouch for that. Moreover, working for Barracuda Networks, a company that is seriously investing in mobile development, although it is not a part of its core business has reinforced this belief. Barracuda Networks is a worldwide leader in content security and networking products and we are seeing the increasing need to mobilize our product offerings. Towards that end, we are rapidly growing our local Michigan office.

…I constantly meet local entrepreneurs who are looking for developers to translate their app ideas into reality. Often times, there is a scarcity of local mobile developers. An unfortunate consequence of this dearth of local resources is that entrepreneurs often have to seek developers from outside Michigan. In some cases, they have even chosen to relocate their business outside Michigan, closer to where the talent is. I am hoping to meet enthusiastic developers/entrepreneurs who share my passion for mobile development, and for growing the technical talent here in Michigan.”

What’s the end goal of the program?

At Demo Day in August, students will have an opportunity showcase their work to an audience of potential investors and employers. Through the mentor network Vichich assembled, companies represented at Demo Day will include Picket Report, Detroit Venture Partners, Quicken Loans, Code Academy, RPM Ventures, and Venture For America to name a few.

Many of these companies are working alongside the program in the hopes of building relationships with a talent pool of up and coming developers.

This is a unique approach, and a contrast from Valley to Detroit, the recent initiative put forth by Detroit Venture Partners that aims to relocate established tech employees from Silicon Valley. Regardless of method or approach, however, the need for able developers rings loud and clear, and individuals like Paul Czarnik — CTO of Compuware — have been vocal in the media as of late, acknowledging the demand for talented developers in the region, notably mobile app developers.