It was a day to celebrate the work of young people whose energy and imagination will impact technology and the future as Maydm hosted “Code Madison Forward” at the Wisconsin State Capitol on Aug. 18. Fifteen high school students from schools across the city participated in the event that saw them partner with professional developers to create an interactive website about a passion project. In addition to gaining valuable coding knowledge, they also competed for coveted prizes donated by local tech companies.
Maydm’s “Code Madison Forward” was sponsored by Bendyworks, PerBlue, and Wuntusk. Programmers from Redox, Hardin Design and Development, Ten Forward Consulting and the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health served as student mentors.
Coding is not only an essential part of technology, but a key form of creative expression. Maydm’s mission is to “bridge the gap between ability and possibility for girls and students of color in tech.” Maydm hopes to increase the number of women and people of color who pursue careers in tech. Students in grades 3-12 participate in Maydm’s after-school and summer programming. Students are able to code, develop web and mobile applications, and program hardware.
In addition to technical skills, students network with local programmers, build their portfolios, explore various tech spaces in Madison, and receive mentoring by industry professionals. Seventy-six percent of Maydm’s students identify as people of color, and 40 percent are women.
“I am really excited for the community to see what these students present and the creativity that they bring to programming,” Karanja told Madison365. “I want students to know that although programming is a process, it is fun and it is something that they can do well. Everyone in this space wants to help them succeed.”
Team “Technology Sisters” took the top spot at “Code Madison Forward.” Siblings Isabella, Scarlet and Cearah Egwuonwu created a website promoting a horse camp to teach students horseback riding. The Egwuonwu sisters had a bit of experience programming in school, but “Code Madison Forward” really illustrated the intricacies required to build a functional website.
“We really learned a lot in a few hours and it was so much fun,” Isabella told Madison365.
Scarlet added, “Before I just thought you clicked on a website and it took you to a page. There is so much going on behind the scenes. All the work and the editing that goes into [making a website work.] It was really interesting to see.”
Each of the Egwuonwu sisters went home with a pair of “Beats By Dre” headphones for their hard work.
“Code Madison Forward” was a part of The Forward Festival, Madison’s flagship technology and entrepreneurship festival. This weeklong conference features over 40 events for entrepreneurs and tech enthusiasts. Since starting in 2010, it now attracts over 2,000 attendees and includes 8 full days packed with 40+ events organized by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs. Forward Fest continues through August 25th. For more information on Maydm, click here.