Announcing Our New Software Engineering Program

Nov 8, 2021
John Wark

Collaboration with Amazon Opens New Pathway to Tech Careers

We made a major announcement today. Actually, it’s two announcements in one: we’re announcing an important new training program and we’re announcing that we’re collaborating with Amazon to deliver that new training program. For the top-level overview of what’s being announced, you can check out our first blog post on the announcement. If you haven’t seen the post - feel free to check it out and then come back to dig into some of the news in more detail. 

In summary, we announced our Software Engineering with Java/AWS Specialization program this morning. This is a nine-month, full-time deep dive into designing, building, testing, and deploying the server-side of large-scale enterprise applications. Students will get an introduction to front-end technologies and how to use them to create a user interface for an application, but we estimate that 85% to 90% of their time in the program will be focused on server-side engineering. More on this below. 

We also announced that we are collaborating with Amazon to release this program. The curriculum we are basing our program on was originally developed by Amazon engineers for a program called the Amazon Technical Academy. Amazon Technical Academy is an internal upskilling program designed to allow Amazon employees, including distribution center workers, with no prior technical training, to upskill to a level where they can be hired as a junior software engineer (called an SDE1 at Amazon). Before this program, only college graduates with a Computer Science degree could qualify for an SDE1 role. 

When Amazon reached out to us to ask if we would be interested in collaborating with them to adapt their curriculum and launch a public software engineering program, the proven success of their curriculum in preparing non-technically trained adults for a tech career totally resonated with us. The goals of the Amazon Technical Academy program were so closely aligned to our non-profit mission and the program was sufficiently different from our existing full-stack web development program that it allows us to open up a new career pathway targeting a segment of the software engineering talent market that has not typically been open to coding bootcamp graduates or others without a computer science degree. 

Building the server-side of applications intended to scale and perform at enterprise or global scale (whether on a cloud platform or otherwise) requires an understanding of key computer science concepts, specialized practical software engineering skills, and a different range of technologies than the typical full-stack software engineer or web developer. This program is designed to target that more specialized segment of the software engineering talent market. We’ll be talking about our vision relative to this new pathway in more detail in another blog post later this week.

Another part of our vision for this program is to recruit students from all over the southeast, and indeed the country, who want to learn these skills and become part of the growth in the Nashville tech economy. Whether they work for Nashville employers, or come here for the life-style but work remotely for tech employers located elsewhere, we’d like to use this program to help attract more high-potential tech talent. We’ll target our recruiting on the local community first because we are first and foremost concerned about opening pathways to tech careers to our friends and neighbors, but for the first time we’ll be also recruiting outside our region.

A New Pathway For Beginners and Those Looking To Upskill

The Software Engineering program is designed for highly motivated adults who want to acquire the necessary skills to build software applications and establish a new career in tech as a junior software engineer at employers like Amazon and other enterprise companies. No prior programming experience is required. We are rolling out a number of ways to gain the coding skills required for success in the Software Engineering program. These prework options combine self-study, mentoring and instructor-led pathways to learning introductory programming concepts for those new to tech. More information on the various prework programs options will be shared over the next few weeks. 

This program is also well suited for those who already have programming skills, up to and including graduates of computer science or computer information systems programs, or coding bootcamps, who feel they need more skills to really seize top-tier software engineering jobs. 

Students enrolled in the Software Engineering program at NSS will learn the following skills (a more complete list of the skills and tools is shown on the program page for the class on the NSS website):

  • A broad introduction to applied computer science concepts, including algorithms and data structures, object-oriented programming, concurrent programming
  • Hands-on use of real-world software engineering tools and practices such as source code control using Git/GitHub, Agile development methods, testing and debugging, team-based projects, cloud computing platforms
  • Practice building and deploying cloud-native backend applications using tools such as Java, Amazon’s market-leading AWS cloud platform, DynamoDB, etc.
  • The program also includes - as do all NSS programs - a comprehensive career development track that prepares students for their job search and for intensive technical interviews. Students will work with NSS’ career development team so they are prepared to succeed in the job search after graduation.

Software Engineering with Java/AWS Specialization is open for applications now. We won’t start interviewing applicants for a few weeks yet - probably will start the week after Thanksgiving. Some of the other information that is not yet available includes details on all of the tuition financing options. We are offering our Opportunity Tuition plan with this program and like all NSS full-time programs we expect half of the students to attend using the Opportunity Tuition. But there will at least be additional student loan options posted within the next couple of weeks, as soon as we sort out the details with our student loan providers. 

We will also be sharing more information about our vision for this program and how it fits into our mission and the needs of the Nashville community. So watch the NSS blog for more news coming soon. 

Topics: Learning, News, Software Engineering