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Lextech loves Code Day Chicago!

December 5, 2014

  • Jessica Smith

We recently sponsored a Code Day Chicago event in Chicago at Blue 1647, a diverse tech and innovation center in the Pilsen community. With a strong emphasis on technology and enterpreneurship, Blue 1647 is the perfect place for tech professionals and students alike to gather.

What Code Day is about

If you’ve never been to a Code Day, it’s like an entrepreneurial cross between a high school lock in party and a soap box derby, but with computers and an array of tech accessories and tools. The challenge for students is to conceive of anything tech oriented and create it from scratch as a team in 24 hours. At the end, prizes are awarded for the best projects and two superlative prizes are given by the judges for teams and projects that set themselves apart in particular ways such as “best sales pitch” or “most practical.”

The students gather in the morning and spend some time getting to know each other. Students at this particular Code Day were mostly high school students. Students came out from a coding club from Mundelein, Deerfield High, Pritzker College Prep, and even a group from Canada!

After a little fun breaking the ice, students make their pitches in front of the whole group. Students then spontaneously start to form around the students whose pitches they liked or found interesting, and soon after get to work.

There’s a lot of mobile white boards for teams to draw out and diagram their projects. The mentors from various tech companies and backgrounds, including Lextech, hung out and kept distance, milling about, but being available for team’s questions when they hit roadblocks or needed advice.

The winning team from Canada created Globe, a creative app that gamifies travel.

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Lextech engineers Zack and Michael speak with a young student (left).

The incredible thing about Code Day

When we asked Antonio Rowry, Blue 1647 COO, what he thinks the most valuable thing about Code Day is, he said, “It’s a fun learning experience with people who value having fun and learning and meeting others who value the same.”

“Even if you want to become a race car driver or play baseball or… build a house…all of these things have been turned upside down by software.” -Drew Houston, founder of Dropbox

Chad Lilly, Lextech Director of Recruiting (and engineering mentor) said, “It creates an incredible challenge: What can you build in 24 hours? What are the possibilities and restrictions, and what can you come together on?” It stretches students, gives them a sense of accomplishment, and motivates them to keep pushing and keep going.

Not just for “code nerds”

A lot of students and parents might think of Code Day as something for “those code nerds,” but the words of two tech leaders in a Code.org video sums it up:

“Even if you want to become a race car driver or play baseball or… build a house…all of these things have been turned upside down by software.” -Drew Houston, founder of Dropbox

“Computers are everywhere. You want to work in agriculture? Do you want to work in entertainment? Do you want to work in manufacturing? It’s just all over.” -Bronwen Grimes, Technical Artist, Valve Software

Blue 1647’s Rowry added,

“Code Day’s goals are to make particularly newer students enjoy coding, and build up the coding community. We’re also focused on people development including classes, workshops, and events around technology. So that’s everything from web development and mobile development to CAD design, 3D printing, and electronics. We’re really trying to get people to get into the digital economy, and even if students do not have previous coding experience, many have participated in our programs and continued to learn these relevant skills and have great outcomes.”

How you can get involved

We’re definitely looking forward to participating in Chicago Code Days in the future, and so are the folks at Blue 1647. (The next one in Chicago is February 14-15). If you’re interested in finding out more, go to the Code Day site or contact Blue 1647.