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Ruby on Rails Project Showcase

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Ruby on Rails Project Showcase

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On January 21, a determined group of aspiring developers gathered for their very first session of the HackerYou Spring 2013 Intro to Ruby on Rails course. While each of the students rightfully expected to walk away with a brand new skill set by the end of our Intro to Ruby on Rails and Intro to Rails Application Development courses, I'm not sure they understood just how far they would come. But here we are, a couple of weeks after Demo Day, and it's safe to say that many of us all still a little in awe about the amazing progress that was made and the quality of new-found talents that were gained. Instead of telling you about all of the incredible projects, connections and friendships that came out of this course, I wanted to let a few of our awesome students (and their kick-ass projects) speak for themselves:

AVALANCHE (click for demo)

The team behind Avalanche includes Meredith Underell, an aspiring Ruby on Rails developer, Michelle Pomeroy, a special education teacher, and Emily Gutierrez, a web developer. Here is what they had to say about their HackerYou experience: Why did you decide to apply to HackerYou? Meredith: I wanted to learn more about Ruby on Rails and I knew that HackerYou was an amazing organization. _Michelle: _I decided to apply for Hacker You because I took part in a Ladies Learning Code HTML & CSS workshop three months prior and absolutely loved it. I then looked into whether or not they offered more in-depth courses, discovered HackerYou and ended up taking all of the courses that HackerYou currently offers. Emily: I attendedHackerYou's Intro to Web Development in the fall last year. I applied because my contract as a web producer at my old job had just ended and in order to make myself more hireable I knew I needed to gain more web development skills. HackerYou's part-time hours also attracted me because if I ended up getting a job while taking the course I knew I wouldn't have to drop it. After graduating from HackerYou's Intro to HTML & CSS and Intro to Responsive Design courses, I applied to HackerYou's Intro to Ruby on Rails courses because I fell in love with web development and thought it would be a great asset to understand Ruby on Rails. What did you enjoy most about HackerYou? _Meredith: _The people (I have new life long friends!) & building our own projects. _Michelle: _I really enjoy learning in an environment in which success is not measured based on test scores but on internal motivation to do well and learn a new skill. I also enjoyed the sense of community among the students, instructors and mentors. _Emily: _I enjoyed the environment the most. It was a fun, positive, laid back environment where people helped and supported each other. What was your favourite part of creating your project? Meredith: Getting to work through a really complex project which helped us understand the concepts better. Also, having some sushi & code nights with my project teammates was always a blast! _Michelle: _My favourite part of creating the project is working with my friends toward a common goal, and also the feeling of success when a light bulb suddenly goes off and you understand (or figure out) something that you were not able to previously. Emily: Working with my group was the best part of creating this project. We worked hard, but the best part was that we had a lot of fun doing it!

HACKSIGHTER (click for demo)

HackSighter is the brainchild of Naomi Matsuura, a scientist who specializes in using nanotechnology to devise innovative solutions in the field of medical imaging. Here is what Naomi had to say about her time at HackerYou: Why did you decide to apply to HackerYou? I have long been curious about web-based programming, but with a busy job, it did not seem feasible for me to learn how to program via more "traditional" routes (i.e., via part-time university or college courses). HackerYou appealed to me because it gave me the opportunity to take part in an intensive, challenging and applied web-programming course that was also geared towards new students with little programming experience. This combination is difficult to find, and the high teacher-to-student ratio allowed all the students to push their boundaries as well as learn material very specific to their needs. What did you enjoy most about HackerYou? I really enjoyed meeting so many amazing and motivated people through the HackerYou courses. The instructors, mentors and my classmates really inspired me during the course itself, and being exposed to everyone and their energy and ideas continues to push and inspire me to continue self-learning now that the course is complete. I feel privileged to have met such a great group of people through this course! What was your favourite part of creating your project? My favourite part of creating my project was the excitement I felt when I was able to implement the lessons from our class into our my own app. It was amazing and incredibly satisfying that with so little experience, we were able to create something that could work and be demonstrated within such a short period of time (albeit with a lot of help from our instructors).

TIMEtoOR (click for demo)

Giles Cruickshanks is an anesthisiologist who saw a need to find a better way for operating room staff to communicate better for emergency surgery booking. Here is what he said to say about bringing an idea to life through HackerYou: Why did you decide to apply to HackerYou? I have been in love with computers since age 10. I have a degree in Computer Science from Western University (Class of '91). Then I went to Medical School and currently work as an Anesthesiologist at Southlake Regional Health Centre in Newmarket. Over the years, I built a few applications for physician billing and scheduling. I took some time away from work to commercialize my physician scheduling software that schedules about 60 physicians at two hospitals. A nursing colleague and I presented our project TimeToOR at www.HackingHealth.ca in October 2012 (we were voted #4 out of 68 projects). We met some awesome people at HackingHealth, especially Sherry-Lyn Lee and Audrey Kuo who are working on www.iamsick.ca. They were programming in Ruby on Rails and it seemed really cool, so I googled 'Ruby on Rails' courses and found HackerYou. The last programming I had done was in MS Access 2003/Visual Basic with some minimal HTML experience. What did you enjoy most about HackerYou? I enjoyed it all! Heather is great and was very welcoming even though I am perhaps not the typical background or age group for such a course. The instructors from Influitive were amazing. Clearly very high-end programmers with a wealth of knowledge but able to effectively share and teach the subject. I attended a few Ruby Hack nights at Influitive's office and even played my first ever 'geeky board game' at their monthly meetup. The other students in the class were fascinating. Such a diverse group of students - a scientist, statistician, a few entrepreneurs, special education teacher, a satirical news website blogger. Everyone had great ideas for their personal projects. I think my favourite was Danny's 'PowerMove' - it's a term I'm adding to my vocabulary. The small class size made me feel like I was a part of a special group. I really looked forward to every class (and I drove over an hour one way for each class). What was your favourite part of creating your project? Ruby on Rails is awesome. I used Twilio to real time SMS message and call the OR team. Ryan, Brad and Enric solved any roadblock I had within minutes. It was rewarding to see an idea become reality. I am continuing to work on some new applications at the hospital to help integrate technology into a much needed area.


zhi1-1024x614 This app was created by Zhi Hui Tai, Project Manager at Influitive. We asked Zhi to share her thoughts on HackerYou, and this is what she had to say:

Why did you decide to apply to HackerYou?

Working alongside engineers everyday has made me want to create things of my own for a long time. When I heard that my co-workers Ryan and Brad from Influitive were going to teach a couple introductory Ruby on Rails courses at HackerYou, I was on board immediately.

What did you enjoy most about HackerYou? I've tried sites like Codecademy and Udemy which have really great content but having a structured class environment made it really disciplined for me. The friendly instructors and classmates played a huge part in creating a great synergy in class too!

What was your favourite part of creating your project?

Being able to see through the development from ideation to fruition was really satisfying for me, although I received a lot of help in between.

POWER MOVES (click for demo)

powermoves1-1024x520 Brought to you by Danny Cohen, Head of Consumer Marketing at Google Canada, Power Moves helps you make the right choices on everything from the best pizza in town to your next furniture purchase.

Why did you decide to apply to HackerYou?

I've been in a marketing role at Google for over three years. I work very closely with Product Managers and Engineers and wanted to learn the more technical side of the world. Plus I love building things, so this seemed like the right place to get started with programming.

What did you enjoy most about HackerYou?

Before this, all my attempts at learning to code failed because I was working solo. The best part of HackerYou was having a community of other people also trying to learn coding from the ground up. The teaching was also fantastic. And Heather and team were extremely flexible, always looking for the best way to adapt aspects of the course to make sure we were getting the most out of it.

What was your favourite part of creating your project?

Taking an idea in my head and turning it into a working prototype in 3 weeks with my new skillz.


hockeydraft1 Steve Organ, a Project Manager at Influitive, joined the Ruby on Rails courses to build on his basic knowledge of code. Judging by his awesome hockey draft app - he did just that!

Why did you decide to apply to HackerYou?

I always wanted to learn how to program. Prior to the course, I knew how to copy and paste code and work with it, however I wanted more knowledge in how to program and build a web application. I work in product management as well, and although the level of technical expertise is not required for the function, I thought learning Ruby on Rails would be useful to empathize with my team.

What did you enjoy most about HackerYou?

The amazing instructors, I learned so much in a couple of months it is crazy.

What was your favourite part of creating your project?

Making my application real-time - allowing the user to get real-time updates without having to refresh the page. I loved how easy and awesome it was to leverage and integrate open source code into my project.


Next up from Alan Judson, Data Analyst at Sanimax, comes an online news site. Here is what Alan had to say when we asked him about his HackerYou experience:

Why did you decide to apply to HackerYou?

I want to make awesome apps and websites. It's a great career move for an analyst to learn coding. Also, my friend and I started Hammer in the News - a satirical news website covering Hamilton news - and I wanted to make a custom site. Right now I'm making two other apps. A music theory app and an inventory app for my company.

What did you enjoy most about HackerYou? The best part was that there was lots of time in class to ask questions and just get into the RoR zone. Spending that much time in the programming environment meant that you become more and more familiar with it.

What was your favourite part of creating your project? When it donned on me that I could shape it into exactly what I wanted.

HACKEROOM (click for demo)

hackerroom1-1024x512 Our next project comes from our very own Heather Payne and Dan Kalmar, Community Manager at ShopLocket. And since you probably already know how Heather feels about HackerYou, we asked Dan to share his thoughts on the course:

Why did you decide to apply to HackerYou?

For me, it was about learning a new skill and helping me with my job. I'm not a developer, but I'm the line of communication between our customers and our developers. So by knowing Rails, I'm able to more effectively help customers and communicate better with our developers. On the personal side of things, it's really nice to be able to build an idea, no matter how small it might be.

What did you enjoy most about HackerYou?

Personally, I've always hated traditional schooling. I couldn't wait to be done with university. What I loved the most about HackerYou was how hands-on it was. I wasn't just learning about theories and abstract ideas, I was actually working on projects and seeing it unfold before my eyes as I was learning. It's the first time in a while that I've enjoyed school.

What was your favourite part of creating your project?

My favourite part was really just learning along the way. You run into a lot of weird problems when actually trying to make something that you don't know about when it's just theory. But the great thing is that you have instructors there at all times to not only show you the solution but explain to you why it happened. The best way to learn something is to actually do it and that's why the model of having everyone do projects was so effective during this course — at least for myself.

NEARZBUY (click for demo)

nearzbuy2-1024x544 Next up we have Nearzbuy, the brain child of Jose Platero, a Business Analyst at Shaw Communications. As with many HackerYou students, Jose saw the benefit of adding web development to his existing business skill set. Here are Jose's thoughts on the course:

Why did you decide to apply to HackerYou?

I wanted to learn about development to help me communicate better with my development team at work while at the same time have a way to take my own ideas and turn them into actual products. I was drawn to HackerYou because of its hands-on approach and the ability to walk away from the course with something built, rather than a grade.

**What did you enjoy most about HackerYou? **

I really enjoyed the people, the environment and the attention we were given. I’ve never experienced learning like this before and it was by far the best experience I’ve ever had at “school”. The energy was always positive, the instructors, mentors and classmates were all motivated which made the journey that much better. I'm hooked! I am halfway through the web development course with Wes Bos and enjoying it just as much as the Rails courses!

What was your favourite part of creating your project?

Seeing each thing we learned move from idea to feature. It was great to be able to think of something and have someone to ask “how do you do that?” and then do it.

COWHUB (click for demo)

cowhuib-1024x536 Last but certainly not least, we have Cowhub from the Heather Krause. With her background in statistics and her business acumen (Heather owns and runs Datassist), we were excited to see what type of project she had in store - and Cow Hub certainly did not disappoint! Check out what Heather had to say about her HackerYou experience:

Why did you decide to apply to HackerYou?

I'm a statistician and I run a consulting company that specializes in custom research for nonprofit organizations and NGOs. We work a lot with gathering, analysing and storing data for our organizations and I wanted to grow our capacity to do a professional job of working with all our data online. One of our projects is working with CARE Bangladesh and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and groups of poor dairy farmers in rural Bangladesh. We collect a lot of data on this project in the remote rural areas and getting that data into shape and communicating it to the team can take a very long time. I signed up for HackerYou Ruby on the Rails class so that I could learn how to build a web app that would allow us to collect the data more accurately and efficiently right there in the field using tablets and then display the data to project managers and field workers in an understandable and real-time manner.

What did you enjoy most about HackerYou?

One of my favourite things about HackerYou is the ratio of instructors to students as well as the type of instructors that HackerYou hires. Our instructors were actually working in the field that we were studying and they understood the most current best practices as well as how to build things that really work in practice - not just in theory. I also really enjoyed the atmosphere in the classroom - we were very productive while having a lot of fun together. I actually enjoyed HackerYou so much that I have been referring my friends and family!

What was your favourite part of creating your project?

My favourite part of creating the project was going from the first week -- when we could barely figure out how to set up our GitHub accounts, let along write a line of code -- to the end when we could all make something awesome out of nothing. The demo day when we all saw that we had make real, functional web apps out of mysterious lines of code and regular expressions was my favourite part.


And there you have it, folks! A huge thank you to the Ruby on Rails students who allowed us to share their projects with you - we couldn't be more proud of the creative apps that you developed! We'd also like to thank Ryan Brunner and Brad Robertson, our Lead Instructors, and Enric Ribas, Dessy Daskalov, Vlad Drižepolov and Maria Kuznetsova, our mentors, for all of the time and effort they put in to making HackerYou's first Ruby on Rails courses a success. If we've piqued your interest in HackerYou, perhaps you should take some time to learn about our next course? It's a repeat of our popular Intro to HTML & CSS and Intro to Responsive Design courses (both led by Wes Bos), which covers HTML5, CSS3 and responsive design, respectively. The first course begin on September 16th, and applications are now open! Questions? Email us at info [at] hackeryou.com -- we hope to hear from you soon!