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There’s a new face behind Dev/Iowa, the University of Iowa training initiative for web development. The new program coordinator, Zach Sanderson, is an ’06 UI graduate of Business Administration in Management Information Systems and is enthusiastic about using Dev/Iowa to support and grow the developer community in Iowa City.

“I love the problem that Dev/Iowa is trying to solve,” Sanderson said. “Everyone is going to need to be more technical in their work, so anything Dev/Iowa can do to help those people is great.”

Sanderson first became involved with Dev/Iowa after taking the Intro to Python course in November last year and has followed the program ever since. In late October, he started as the first full time program coordinator, taking over from Andrea Flemming, a contractor who worked part-time on the project. His new role involves facilitating the Dev/Iowa Bootcamp each summer, coming up with new courses and developing curriculum, as well as working to create a more unified developer community.

One of the ways Sanderson hopes to build community is through Dev/Iowa alumni Meetups. Currently, alumni who have participated in either the Dev/Iowa Bootcamp or standalone courses get together for hack nights where they talk about technical problems or play with new technology. Sanderson hopes to find even more ways for alumni to show off the skills they learned and exchange ideas.

“It’s sometimes a very solitary job to just work on one specific technology,” Sanderson said. “There’s a lot of people who are very specialized. Getting them out and meeting with each other and talking about different ideas and technologies is beneficial.”

While Sanderson said the Iowa City area has a strong Meetup community already, he thinks there are still ways to make the different groups work together more. He would also like to start new groups that do not yet exist in Iowa City, such as Google Developer groups.

A Meetup community is beneficial not only for developers but also for the business community. Sanderson said that likeminded web developers hanging out will increase the number of people interested in web development, which will in turn increase the number of people available for technical positions.

“There doesn’t seem to be an issue with unemployed developers,” Sanderson said. “Businesses are happy to have more developers at their fingertips.”

As far as the coursework itself, Sanderson knows that Dev/Iowa Bootcamp is a successful model and will always be a part of the program. However, changes may be made to the single courses. Sanderson would like to restructure the courses to take place one evening a week over the course of several weeks, rather than every day of one week. He also hopes to hold more casual workshops and demonstrations.

Overall, Sanderson wants to give the people interested in web development what they want and hopes they take away a newfound confidence from their accomplishments throughout the coursework that will motivate them to continue using the technologies they learned and growing as a member of the developer community.

Dev/Iowa is part of the UI Office of Research and Economic Development’s UI Partners program, established to help small Iowa companies innovate and grow by solving, among other things, their information technology (IT) challenges and providing advanced entrepreneurship and business training, primarily through Iowa Engagement Centers. More at www.deviowa.com.

By Anne Easker