Meet Catapult Austin

January 21st, 2017

Computer science and technology fascinate Austin. Coding. Video games. Websites. Apps. The senior at Arsenal Tech craves knowledge about them: How they work, how they’re created, and how they can solve real-world issues. He also understands the tech industry promises job security and lucrative wages.

Last summer Austin jumped on the chance to become a Nextech Catapult after one of his teachers urged him to apply for the immersive work-and-learn program. Austin willingly gave up sleeping in and playing Minecraft to be thrown into the deep end of life as a technologist. In exchange for his openness to new challenges and opportunities, he developed confidence, became part of a community and turned his passion into a career choice. From learning new skills to making new friends, here are some of Austin’s favorite experiences from the past nine months.

Learning coding fundamentals. Austin hoped to develop tech skills through Catapult. The results were better than he imagined thanks to Nextech partners at Eleven Fifty Academy. “I can build a website from scratch and make it look all pretty with maybe a day. This is huge for me! I came into the program knowing pretty much nothing. It shows how much you can get done if you’re determined. I was able to learn about designing in CSS, HTML and JavaScript, also animate, and it was pretty awesome. To grow that much just amazes me.”

Connecting with like-minded peers. Austin expected to connect with peers during Catapult yet didn’t predict the bond they would create. “All of us, coming from different schools and backgrounds, were brought together by the program and almost instantly became friends…after the awkward introductions of course. Catapult brought me together with some of the best people I know.”

Choosing a new college and major. Sorry Hoosier alumni and fans. Austin won’t be sporting red and white next year like he originally planned…although you can still cheer him on. Instead he’ll be hanging out with Purdue Pete as he studies UX. “I was accepted as a Human Centered Design major at Purdue University. Nextech and my TechPoint Xtern mentor, Ryan Green, gave me the confidence to strive for this prestigious university and prevail.”

Connecting to his city. Before Catapult, Austin thought Indianapolis was just another small city in the Midwest. “I came to learn our wonderful city has a rich history. It is also one of the leading tech cities in the nation. I loved how we got exposure to the tech community in Indy. I had no clue we had this much opportunity at our doorstep, and it’s fantastic.”

Designing a video game. A lost space marine needs help. Death is imminent if she doesn’t return to her ship immediately. Can you save the day? Austin plans to test your skills. His space-themed prototype is now well underway thanks to his Catapult capstone project coaches, Blaise Vincz and Justin Zalewski, from Studio Science. “I hope to develop this game further and one day push it to the web so others can enjoy my creation.”

Making lasting memories. Austin and his fellow Catapults have shared many exciting and challenging moments from building personal websites to exploring college campuses to cheering on the Pacers. “Probably the most memorable time for me was when we were all at Bazbeaux. We were just laughing and having a great time as friends. Cracking jokes and goofing around with each other. Thinking back, it reminds me of a happy TV show montage.”

Impressing his hero. Austin has admired his older brother since he can remember. He now knows the feeling is mutual. “Catapult has given me the chance to learn about myself and also has brought gratitude from my older brother, undeniably the number one person I look up to. He admires my accomplished goals from getting into Catapult to getting accepted at Purdue.”

Seizing the opportunity. “If I had the chance to re-do catapult, I would. If you’re thinking about joining the Catapult family, do it! You have nothing to lose. Everything you do in the program is beneficial. Stick with it and be diligent.”

“Catapult was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life,” adds Austin. “I’ve grown and bonded with so many people. I am, and always will be, grateful that this opportunity was given to me. I could say thank you a thousand times but it still wouldn’t be enough. Thank you Nextech for helping me grow my passion and get prepared for the future I want.”

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