Catapult Summer Recap

July 25th, 2017

On April 26th, Nextech celebrated the graduation of our first cohort of Catapults; less than 2 months later we welcomed the 2017-18 Catapult class.   On June 10th 21 students embarked on a yearlong journey that would help them:

  • Acquire technology development skills
  • Clarify, or in some cases confirm, their “dream tech job”
  • Cultivate the 21st century skills needed for success in college, career and life (e.g., critical thinking, communication, collaboration, creativity)
  • Increase their level of self-awareness
  • Develop a personal and professional connection to Indianapolis

As the saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  Since the Catapult formula resulted in the desired outcomes with our first Cohort, our team made nominal changes to the students’ experiences.  Our biggest shift was a heavier focus on design thinking.

Led by our partners at Studio Science, the Catapults learned design thinking skills in practice by working collaboratively in teams to generate innovative solutions to food insecurity on Indy’s Northwest side, using the work of Flanner House as their backdrop.

The students visited Flanner House to gain information about the situation of food deserts in the Indianapolis area. In essence, this was the “fact finding” portion of the design process.  For the rest of the workshop, students worked in teams of 3-4 people to outline and conceptualize the food access problem described at Flanner House and ultimately presented a prototype solution.

Although the Catapults initially felt a bit duped that their coding internship began with a week where no computers were required, they all agreed the design thinking workshop was 100% worthwhile.  As one student put it.

I actually really like how (the summer schedule) is set up because the Design Thinking workshop was what broke the ice that many of us were standing on. It gave us an opportunity to know each other. It also helped with the coding afterwards because without it I would have been everywhere in my thinking process.

The balance of the summer was a true immersion into developing the students’ skill sets and introducing them to the world of opportunities available to them in Indianapolis.  Experiences included:

  • Coding fundamental boot camp, powered by Eleven Fifty Academy
  • Workshops on DISC Profiles, Servant Leadership, College & Career Success, Personal Brand, Resume Building
  • Visits to High Alpha, Salesforce, Eli Lilly, Studio Science, IUPUI, Butler, Ivy Tech
  • Social gatherings with their TechPoint families
  • Lots of fun!!

It was a crazy busy summer for the Nextech team and Catapults; but, we wouldn’t have it any other way.  And according to feedback from the kids, they wouldn’t either.

If I had to describe Catapult in one word it would be superb. Impressively splendid, this program really is an experience and is far more enjoyable than one would believe. You make great connections with the people here, meet ceos that pursued their dreams, and see spectacular places and things such as holo lenses or Eli Lilly.

Everyday felt wonderful and it was never boring. I loved all the hours we’ve spent in coding, in design thinking, and visiting companies and having tours.

This summer has opened up so many opportunities, I’ve seen so many technologies, so many ideas, and people achieving everything from next to nothing, it’s been overall inspiring.

Catapult is life-changing, because even if I don’t specifically go into software programming, nearly all of the skills I’ve gained this summer can go towards any career.

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