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CEDAR RAPIDS — When it was launched this past year, DeltaV Code School’s Computer Ops classes were aimed specifically at adults.
Last summer, it added something new — high school students.
With funding from a Future Ready Iowa’s Summer Youth Internship Pilot Projects grant, NewBoCo and DeltaV entered into a partnership with Kirkwood’s Workplace Learning Connection and Cedar Rapids Community Schools earlier this year.
Their goal? To find high school students who had an interest in computer careers, and put them in a program alongside adults.
That way, they could get a firsthand look at what a career in tech could look like.
“We’re always looking to innovate, and we’re always looking for new partnerships,” DeltaV instructor Dan Tuuri said.
“Thanks to this collaboration, we are really opening up doors to new opportunities to people, in a variety of career pathways.”
DeltaV Code School started in 2017 with software development curriculum. In late 2020, DeltaV expanded to include an Ops program with one mission: Give Iowans a chance to launch a brand-new career in computer tech support.
Taking place over five weeks, the full-time program is designed to make students proficient in both computer software and hardware; to dive deeper into how computer work stations function; and to learn to perform basic computer technical operations within operating systems.
Along the way, instructors also assist students with preparing resumes, understanding how to work as a team, and other skills that are vital for a modern work environment.
For the high school students, Workplace Learning Connection offered StrengthsQuest assessments to help students optimize their individual talents.
Classes are broken up into two classes, Ops 102 and Ops 201. It’s five weeks of intense, full-time study, with students collaborating on projects that are presented to the community on the final day.
When the opportunity came to add high school students to the mix, Tuuri said, DeltaV opted not to water the program’s intensity down, or to limit the students’ learning.
“We made a decision really early on that we were going to teach the program the way we typically do,” he said. “That means that the students had a lot of autonomy, and a lot of independence, in how they got their work created.
“We’ve got adults and high schoolers working alongside each other, just as they could in the workplace, and that’s really cool.”
Laurie Worden, the past director of Workplace Learning Connection in Cedar Rapids, said the program is the brainchild of a conversation almost three years ago.
Educators were trying to find ways to engage more underrepresented students in high-quality training for I.T. careers.
Worden cited the demand for I.T. workers in Iowa as a key reason for the project.
“We need to focus more effort on having underrepresented populations trained in some of these high-demand careers,” she said. “It’s our hope with this pilot program that we can expand and offer it to hundreds of students.”
Tara Troester with the Cedar Rapids Community School District brought the opportunity to students to get them enrolled, along with wrap-around support such as transportation and lunches throughout the program.
Patrick Turu, a senior at Cedar Rapids Jefferson High School, was one of the students that took part in DeltaV this summer.
A self-taught coder, Patrick said his love for gaming and programming led him to discover how he could build his own PC. That, in turn, got him interested in learning computer operations.
For Patrick, being part of the DeltaV Ops program allowed him to see the benefits of working in a group, as opposed to being on his own.
“When you’re by yourself, especially as a teenager, you don’t really have a lot of people around you with a similar mindset who are older,” he said. “So being here has allowed me to meet a lot of students and adults who are similar that way.
“I’d recommend this program to other students who have been curious about this field because it gives you a good introduction to doing the same things that professionals would do.”
Patrick’s connection with the program has allowed him to continue beyond the classes he took this summer.
He’s about to begin an internship with a pioneering sponsor of DeltaV’s Ops program, Involta in Cedar Rapids, letting him get an even better sense of how computer ops programs work in the professional world.
“They’re great to work with,” he said of DeltaV. “This program has made me more sure and more certain, now that I have seen that there’s a linear path to getting to where I want to go.”
According to Tuuri, Patrick’s experience is exactly what he aims for as a teacher.
“It’s really exciting to see their passion come out, and their enthusiasm to learn,” he said.
“The fact is that they could be at home during the summer, doing other activities, but they wanted to grow their abilities and start creating their futures instead.”
Worden agreed, and said she hopes more high school students will be able to participate in adult programs like DeltaV in the future.
“We’re very grateful to the Future Ready Iowa Innovation Grant funding for opportunities like this,” Worden said. “We hope that this is just the seed for greater things to come.”
DeltaV Ops launches its next class session Oct. 12. To learn more about the program, visit DeltaVCodeSchool.com.