hackEDU & CloudApp F.T.W.

31 July 2015

We obviously love running into forward-thinking entrepreneurs utilizing CloudApp. We met two recently–two young coding geniuses who will no doubt play a big part in shaping the future of coding education. We had a chat with them on their mission, CloudApp, and high school drama.

What’s hackEDU?
hackEDU is a new nonprofit initiative that brings coding clubs to high schools nationwide. The brainchild of Zach Latta and Jonathan Leung, the startup is officially only six months in operation, but is already running in 40 schools across the U.S.

“There are a lot of students that want to start coding clubs, but there is very little infrastructure in place to help them” says Zach. Thanks to these guys, it’s becoming a lot easier.

How it all started
Zach recalls his freshman frustration, “it sucked that I couldn’t share my passion for coding.” So he started his first coding club. In the process, he encountered other students starting similar groups. But he found no national organization to bring them all together and to promote a coding club in every single high school. So the vision expanded: Make it as easy as possible for students to build coding clubs at their own schools and “spread the hacker ethos and culture.”

Still in its infancy stage, Zach says they are using the experiences, feedback and trends from these clubs to create the perfect “club in a box” that will be rolled out across America and beyond. hackEDU is focused on creating an interactive global community–members can freely access and contribute to Github repositories and also connect through social networks. The “club-in-a-box” will serve as catalyst for the creation of a hacker community by providing curriculum, challenges, best-practices, and an operating structure.

They’re getting buy-in and diversity. “Currently, 32% of our members are female, which is about two times what you see in computer science classes in schools” says Zach. They’re getting faculty support (each club has a teacher supervisor) with an average club size 40+ members. They also do no outbound marketing–students find them. And if you are thinking that it may be many years before we see the real benefit of these clubs, think again. A number of hackEDU members were big winners at the PennApps hackathon.

CloudApp as extra horsepower for hackEDU
As they get this initiative off the ground, hackEDU tries to streamline their daily workload by using as many time-saving and convenient apps as possible (queue CloudApp obviously!).

“I didn’t have CloudApp for a couple of weeks and I found myself taking an extra five minutes each time to send a screenshot or file across,” Jonathan commented. “CloudApp lets me easily share screenshots and files when I need a seamless experience.”

We’re obviously glad to have hackEDU as “fanatical” supporters. “Throughout the day, when it comes to sharing files with each other and collaborating, many members of our team rely on CloudApp” says Zach.

While still taking baby steps, hackEDU knows where they want to be. By the end of 2017, they want to be bigger than APCS. “We are one fortieth of the size of them now, but if we are able to scale to the size as we plan to build, we can achieve this.” CloudApp is delighted to help the hackEDU team get there.

They hesitated to give advice but did say this: “never stop hacking.” Amen.