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A Night to Remember


A Night to Remember

February 5, 2016

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Wow — Demo Night was beyond exhilarating! A student told me of a moment when he saw a Disney Imagineer he really wanted to speak with, but missed the opportunity because he was busy talking to a Dropbox Engineer. Oh no! What a problem to have 😉

I walked in the door at 6:05pm to find the room already buzzing. Engineers and recruiters from companies like Apple, Google, LinkedIn, and Uber were lining up to check out the apps the students had built — from an app to help you file for an O-1 visa to an app that helps common core teachers keep track of their students’ assignments. Many of the products carried a professional level of polish, but more importantly many solved real problems in the world and will soon be making an impact in various communities.

"TransitWise won’t only be encouraging increased use of public transit, as a consequence there will be increased development of the public transit systems and the country as well. We believe that an advanced city isn’t just one where the poor will even drive cars, but rather one where even the rich ride public transit." — Unathi Chonco, pitching TransitWise

The common factor among every student was a sparkle in the eyes, as they pitched their products and shared the process and technical complexity behind what they’d built in the last two months. The energy and atmosphere in the room was one of inspiration, passion, and grand hope for the future — both of the opportunities the students were unlocking with each conversation and the potential to impact the world they had just begun to realize.

Demo Night was our launch of Make School v1.0 — the first iteration of our two-year university replacement for future founders and developers. We spent the last four months immersing students in Silicon Valley — teaching them CS theory, iOS development, ideation, and user experience, and exposing them to a series of inspiring speakers like Craig from Craigslist and Lynda from — the beginnings of a deep and thorough product education. Demo Night was the culmination of these learnings, their first chance to show off to industry their drive and ability to build products to improve lives.

"I was genuinely blown away by the caliber and quality of some of the projects at Demo Night. Gorgeous music visualization programs, streamlining the visa process for international workers, transit apps, and extremely creative and well-done fitness apps." — Kurt Spindler, Engineer at Uber

The industry response was terrific — company represpentatives were thoroughly impressed with the products students built and each took a stack of resumes to add to their hiring pipeline. Every company expressed their excitement about our mission and interest in helping us build Make School.

It’s exciting to think this is just the beginning. For the students this was the culmination of just their fourth month — yet they were already able to impress the industry with what they’ve created. Given their rapidly accelerating growth curve it’s hard for me to imagine what they’ll be able to accomplish together by the end of two years in this educational environment! For Make School this is the sketching of a blueprint that we hope to refine through iteration, and present to the world as the future model of higher education. It’s a blueprint that holds the key to an education relevant to a rapidly changing economy. The key to unlocking inspiration and passion in students, to unlock their potential to create and Make, and equip them with a superpower to change the world. And the key to a sustainable higher educational system, with aligned incentives, positive feedback loops and greater access to students from all socioeconomic backgrounds. We hope to build off this blueprint everywhere in the world, bringing product education to both the existing innovation hubs and the cities that most desperately need opportunity.

Though there’s a lot of hard work ahead for us and our students, the future shines bright 😊

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