By Alec Dent
The basement of a once–abandoned tobacco factory may seem to be an odd place to teach the most cutting edge computer technology, but that’s where The Iron Yard, a computer coding academy in Durham, North Carolina, makes its home. It holds classes in the basement of the American Tobacco Campus, a renovated multi-use industrial site where the American Tobacco Factory once manufactured famous cigarette brands like Lucky Strike and Liggett & Myers.
Yet, The Iron Yard’s location does have a certain sense of continuity or symmetry to it. The industrial chic décor, with cement walls and floors, pipes hanging from the ceiling, and glass walls for every room, immediately brings to mind the feeling that this is a place of work,befitting a for-profit school dedicated to providing students with no-frills, nose-to-the-grindstone training intended to lead to a highly skilled job in just a few short months.
The Iron Yard’s students pay $13,900 to attend a rigorous 12-week program, working Monday through Friday in classes of around 15 students. A typical class consists of a lecture component and practice problems. While The Iron Yard nationally offers five different programs, ranging from data science to application design, the Durham location only offers courses on front-end and back-end engineering. (For all the coding illiterate out there—a group in which I count myself—The Iron Yard’s website explains front-end engineering deals with “creating experiences in web browsers that users see and interact with,” while back-end engineering focuses on “the logic and database needs required to run and scale web applications.”)
In order to graduate from the program, students have to create an independent final project, demonstrating the coding skills they learned from the program. According to reviews from former students, The Iron Yard’s teachers tell their students to expect an entry-level salary of around $40,000, which is actually a conservative estimate according to data collected by PayScale.com. Whether they are delivering on that promise is difficult to ascertain. CONTINUE READING HERE