Bureau of Labor Statistics to be most in demand, some of the highest paying, with a reasonably low risk of being outsourced overseas. In fact, just the Computer Programmer profession is projected to decline, (that's right, go down), 8% while all the others to increase 10% or more. Learning to program is not enough. Learning what and why to program is essential.
Few include applied programming, network security, and computer science even though trillions of devices are coming online and into our homes with the potential to put us all at great risk, (such as the thousands of hacked home appliances used in October 2016 to execute the largest Internet Denial-of-Service attack in history). Coders are literally saving the world by preserving critical science data put in dire jeopardy. Careers involved in managing and developing related technologies are absolutely critical to our future.
Our main offerings are organized by tiers or levels priced by semesters, which are either 16 weeks of 90 minute classes or 8 weeks of 3 hour classes. Understanding these levels is a part of the Essentials offering since it gives you a vision of your own potential path. Remember you are in control of your own learning.
Everyone starts in Essentials and stays there until you can demonstrate mastery of the Essential Skills:
This list is substantial. We invite you to compare it to offerings of other public and professional educational institutions. Notably, we code everything with
vi—the most powerful, ubiquitous editor ever made—and use the Linux Bash command line from day one, (not some fake emulation of one running in a web browser). We introduce the basics of programming in a fun way training to improve our own best times against our unique SkilBot™ Challenges. The goal is to avoid frustration at all costs. Programming should always be fun, even when using professional tools. After Essentials most are about half way to LPI Linux Essentials professional certification for those who wish to pursue it on their own.
In Proficiency we focus on the well-established Python, Web, and Go languages. These have a solid 10+ year maturity and an unquestionably relevant future. The strongly-typed Go language (aka golang) reigns as the dominant, billion-core future language for its ease of use, blazing speed, best-of-breed concurrency (without complicated async callback hell), stand-alone binaries that can link existing C libs, cross-platform compilation, prominent use in physical programming, and architectural emphasis on composition over the error-prone, bloat-inducing, traditional inheritance. What does all of that mean? It means we are obsessed with helping you learn not only modern languages, but also modern best practices.
Mobile is all about developing apps for mobile devices on the two leading mobile platforms, iOS (Apple) and Android (Google). While we present an overview of approaches to creating apps using hybrid approaches we focus specifically on developing what the industry calls native apps. Those who become proficient with Go and Web can choose to focus on one or both of the two main Mobile languages: Kotlin (Android) and Swift (iOS). We do not learn Java, however.
What about Java? Lots of great things have been and will be created in Java. Java has been relevant for one very important reason above all others. Up until May 17th, 2017 it was the only practical language for writing native Android apps. With Android accounting for 80% of all devices this meant Java was essentially required for true native mobile development. However, on May 17th Kotlin support was announced ending the requirement for Java (although the JVM is still used.) We believe that date essentially turned Java into a "legacy" language, much like COBOL it will be found everywhere and need to be maintained, but few will create new things with it. This had already started with Scala, Kotlin on Android was just the nail in the coffin. Java is an inferior, unpleasant, unnecessarily bloated and complex language that new programmers should only learn as a last resort. We also believe it is a dubious decision to use Java on the AP Computer Science exam. It will change once College Board catches up with the rest of the world. We feel we are in good company with MIT and Stanford making this decision to drop Java as a first language.
Make is a project and kit-based introduction to applied programming and physical computing and hardware. Python proficiency is first required. In this lab we use Raspberry Pi, robotic arms, and real-world electronic sensors to make cool stuff—including soldering together your own competition-grade light saber (if you want).
The Linux mastery lab focuses on preparing for taking professionally recognized certification exams for LPIC, OSCP, and Kali Linux. This is particularly important since the LPIC Professional Certifications do not have a hands-on lab requirement or component of any kind. It is not an exaggeration to say you could certify with LPIC without ever having logged into a Linux machine. The Linux lab includes learning advanced command line scripting with POSIX shell, Perl, and Ruby; Penetration Testing (Ethical Hacking) with Kali™ Linux; use of virtualization (VMWare and Virtual Box) and containerization (Docker, Vagrant, etc.); network management; systems architecture; cloud setup and hosting; and general devops and system administration.
Our Data offering focuses entirely on reporting, gathering, and storing data using modern micro-services, data stores, and data science including SQL and NoSQL databases, regular expressions, JSON, Microservice REST APIs, and modeling with UML. It also includes an introduction to machine learning and neural net programming. Future tech careers will largely revolve around unprecedented numbers of devices producing data and never-before-seen levels of data storage and manipulation.
CBL or Challenge Based Learning provides an unending supply of new learning opportunities for even the most advanced technologist. It is entirely driven by challenges facing our local community and world that lab groups and facilitators can accept and work toward solving together. Facilitators mentor, guide, obtain resources, and help arrange meetings with local organizations. Challenges include: creating digital GeoCaches to educate explorers about the natural world and our local history; applying programming skills toward help non-profits improve their web sites and other IT infrastructure; and building software for the local education community. CBL-ers enjoy a strong command of both software and hardware as they have usually have reached mastery in every other SkilStak™ offering before they are considered. This is the SkilStak™ dream team and getting in is the highest achievement you work toward while here. CBL-ers are the first to receive professional and internship recommendations as well as internal work opportunities.
Summer Camps are often the best opportunity to try out SkilStak™ to see if it is something you want to continue for a full semester. Camps are usually Monday through Thursday, nine to noon. These are in addition to Summer Semester labs as well. Summer Semester labs are the same as others except they are compressed into eight weeks instead of sixteen. You have the option of one or more camps and/or labs depending on your Summer plans.
The GeoCaching Summer offering is to take our tech outside searching and hiding our own geocaches.
The Summer Paddleboard offering has very little tech and is just to get ourselves outside Paddleboarding on local lakes and water ways (where they exist).
Summer camps also supplement regular material, some require previous work, most require no previous experience at all.
No previous programming experience is required, but it is preferred when considering applications. Here is a checklist to see if you are ready to apply:
✅ Are you at least 10 years old?
✅ Can you read at a 4th grade level? (100 wpm)
✅ Can you type at least 15 words per minute? (goal is 24+)
✅ Do you know your times tables?
✅ Can you do division with remainders (not necessarily decimals/fractions)?
✅ Do you have access to a Gmail account you can use?
✅ Are you patient with yourself? (Or do you get frustrated easily?)
✅ Do you accept that it could take several semesters to really learn to code?
✅ Will you promise never to utter the words, ”But I already did that?“
✅ Do you often try to figure stuff out on your own?
✅ Do you enjoy helping others around you learn (despite any age difference)?
✅ Do you want to learn to code for more than just making games?
✅ Will you makeup absences within two weeks?
✅ Do you have use of a computer at home?
✅ Will you work at least 2 hours a week outside of class? (20 mins/day)
✅ Will you be honest in all your work?
Those attending SkilStak™ are expected to participate in and outside of class. If you have limited home ”screen time“ that prevents you from working an average of 20 minutes a day then you probably should not apply. We understand that people have busy schedules but like learning an instrument or sport We think this fosters the best learning environment where everyone shares a similar level of interest and motivation. After all, what kind of song could you play or foreign language could you speak after only 24 hours (the total time per semester just in lab not counting home practice)?
Everyone must demonstrate being able to type 15 words per minute no exceptions. Students must attain 24 words per minute before moving into any Proficiency lab. This important milestone is essential. Our timed challenge assessment system assumes this minimum. [Exceptions can be made for those with legitimate physical impairments.]
“What about home row?”, you ask? Although initially we do not require it, eventually your should be using home row (as opposed to hunt-n-peck). We heavily depend on the standard professional
vi editor, which fundamentally uses home row keys for navigation and more. There are numerous resources online to learn proper typing. We happen to use the Aesop's Fable challenge on typingtest.com as our measure.
Anyone can apply but SkilStak™ tends to attract those that don’t seem to fit in elsewhere or who are very bored with their current school. Most of us who work and attend SkilStak™ fall proudly on the spectrum between geek and nerd. Though we do accept adults the style and materials are designed with middle school, high school, and early college ages in mind, roughly ages 10 to 20.
There are sometimes exceptions to the minimum age limit. Applications are judged based on maturity, aptitude, dedication, and fit and SkilStak™ reserves the right to accept only those applicants we feel will benefit and contribute the most. While we believe everyone should learn to code, we do not believe coding is the best career for everyone.
PayPal provides financing options for those who wish to offset the one-time semester registration payment.
Although we are not a non-profit, we have very low margins and overhead to keep our prices in range with other similar activities or comparable sports activity costs.
An application process starts with a conversation. Find the location contact information and call or email your location. You can also always call 704-310-6778 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to help you find your location. You'll be directed to your location manager who will explain things, talk to you about availability, answer questions, and ensure you understand where to find more information including pricing and expectations.
Next we invite you to come in for a free lab. This way you can get a taste of the environment and how stuff work here.
If you do end up wanting to enroll and register, (and about 90% do who actually first attend), then you can request to register immediately for a current Essentials lab or wait until the next semester session begins.
We take a highly personalized approach to registration and enrollment, no forms to fill out or buttons to click. This surprises some since we are a technology company but we feel the human connection is critical — especially during enrollment. Nothing should get in the way.
Registration requires the following:
Anyone can enroll and register in Essentials at any time (based on availability). Normally no more than a maximum of 18 new people are enrolled at any given location in a given semester so don't delay if you are seriously interested.
Entering in the middle of Essentials is possible because it is designed to meet you where they are. No one moves on until mastery of Essential Skills is demonstrated. Costs for those who start in the middle will be prorated.
Congratulations you climbed down the wall of text! Or did you? *wink* Yeah, we don't do “TL;DR;”. Believe it or not we constructed this wall on purpose. Sometimes you just need to read, no videos, no fancy widgets, no animated transitions, no pictures, no “marketing optimization”, no Bootstrap templates, just well-chosen words. If reading this much hurts your eyes, bores you, takes up too much time, seems superfluous, beneath you, inconsiderate, or is otherwise too bothersome, then SkilStak™ probably isn’t the right place for you or your child. (Ironically, if this does describe you it is statistically probable you will never see these words. *sigh*)
On the other hand, if you are saying “YES! Words rock!” then we definitely want to meet you as soon as possible. There’s a good chance you are already a SkilStak™ native ready to learn and contribute with the rest of us. It’s better for everyone that you know this now. Honest, we do care, which is actually why our expectations are so high. Never settle for perpetual mediocrity no matter what you do in life. Find your greatness! We would be honored to help you.
Feel free to sign up for our mailing list in the location box above. That is our primary way of communicating. We have a private chat server as well.
Thanks for stopping by.
Founder, Developer, and CEO