Building On Hardware | Graduate Spotlight

Jul 18, 2017
Mandy Arola

When you look at the world of technology, you’ll find a wide variety of career paths. From computer technicians, to IT systems administrators, to software developers, and a lot in between. William Caldwell of Cohort 18 and Justin Leggett of Evening 4 began their careers in hardware related roles but were intrigued by software development. Here are their stories.


William was an Apple Certified Macintosh Technician and loved fixing computers. Unfortunately the role was transitioning to a “sales first” mentality rather than simply fixing what was broken. William explained, “I want to solve people’s problems, not sell them new computers.” Enter software development. Before applying to NSS, William had spent time learning a little Python. He was familiar with NSS’s strong reputation in the Nashville tech community and when he found out the upcoming cohort was for Python, he was sold!

For William, the best part of the bootcamp was getting to know his fellow students. His biggest takeaway was to always ask for help when you’re stuck. He shared, “Don’t be too shy or proud to ask for help when you need it or maybe when you don’t (it can just be an excuse to start up a conversation)!”

William’s front-end capstone is a single page application called ArriveDry. ArriveDry is built for avid cyclists that commute on their bikes. The application gives weather and road conditions based on when you’re leaving and returning to help you know what to pack. For example, it may be sunny on your way to work, but the forecast calls for lots of rain on the way home. Here is how William built ArriveDry:

The application queries a weather API to provide short-term forecasting based on location. AngularJS routing takes users to the views. API calls are also made to Google Maps for the user's route distance and duration. All results are compiled and based on the outcome a Firebase DB returns - user specific weather and route recommendations. Bootstrap was used for basic styling augmented with Sass for a custom look. Additionally, I designed custom logos for ArriveDry in Photoshop.

For his back-end capstone, William built a web app to manage his vinyl record collection, called miNyl (which stands for ‘my vinyl”). The application allows music lovers to search for songs in their collection and keep track of all the records they own. You can also keep a list of records you want to add to your collection. Here’s what William used to build miNyl:

This full-stack application includes an AngularJS client that passes all CRUD calls to a Django Restful API. Outside API calls are made to gather album details and the data is manipulated by the client and sent to the miNyl database for permanent storage. Song searches return album details with the track position highlighted but if no matches are found the user can add the song (and what album it is found on) to a want list that they can take with them (the styling is fully adaptive) the next time they are out record shopping.

Currently William is enhancing the functionality of his capstone projects. William noted, “I made these apps because I genuinely want them to be useful to someone, myself included. Right now my focus is to make them as robust as possible so they work and work well. Soon I’ll be adding all the cool ‘stretch goals’ features that I wanted to have but ran out of time to incorporate.” William is also learning technologies such as R, C#, Java, and React.

Listen to William’s interview with Clark Buckner about his journey and check out William’s profile.


Justin was working as a tech support specialist in the same room as three developers.

Everyday I watched them (three developers) win small battles, by building products and it inspired me to learn to develop, and win small battles every day.

At a hackathon, he met a NSS graduate who spoke very highly of the bootcamp and Justin decided to apply.

As a part of Evening 4, Justin’s favorite part of the the program was learning Javascript! His biggest roadblock was actually outside of class. Seven months into the twelve month program, his wife gave birth to twin boys who were two months premature. Justin and his family were able to find ways to balance two newborns and the heavy demand of NSS.

His advice for current and future students? “Meetups, meetups, meetups.” Meetups are something we encourage students participate in from day one. It’s more challenging for evening students to make meetups as they have class two nights per week and study group one night per week, but making connections with the local developer community is important when starting a new career.

For his front-end capstone, Justin built an app called thebibleapp. The app was created for children to listen to the Bible being read to them while they played with simple animations. The app was built with Angular, Material, Firebase, and ngAnimate.

Justin’s back-end capstone is a Facebook Messenger clone called thesocialapp. The app has a community tab where you can create and see posts, a tab for adding new friends, a tab for taking notes, and a profile tab where you can edit your profile picture. The app was written in React Native, with an core back-end connected to a Mongo database.

Currently, Justin is spending time learning more about React and updating his portfolio website.

Check out Justin’s profile.

Be sure to listen to all of the graduates talk to our friend, Clark Buckner, about their journey into development and about their experience at NSS.

Check out all of the recent grads on Cohort 18’s and Evening 4’s class websites.

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Topics: Student Stories, Hiring?