Rachel Reinitz is the CTO and Director of IBM’s BlueMix Garage, a unique consultancy lab that aims to bridge startup and enterprise communities in the Bay Area. In light of the recently announced partnership with Galvanize and gSchool (Galvanize’s educational arm), we sat down with Rachel to learn more. In this Course Report Q&A, we talk to Rachel about integrating BlueMix technologies into the upcoming gSchool curriculum and why IBM chose to partner specifically with Galvanize.
Rachel, can you explain to us what the BlueMix Garage is and how it operates?
The BlueMix Garage is a consulting lab where we bring IBM clients of all types in to work with us in the lab and we help them to develop a great application for a new business innovation they want to try out. We work with them on both the business side of shaping the application that they want to build and then on the technical side, we build it and teach them how to build great agile applications and then deploy it on a platform (IBM BlueMix) that supports agility and innovation.
How does Galvanize fit into that?
Galvanize as a whole fits in as a critical component of helping us to mesh with the startup and innovation community. Galvanize provides us with the physical space and allows us to be surrounded by startups who we will work with on innovative projects. Galvanize helps IBM really to become part of this startup community.
Our relationship with gSchool provides us with a means of training developers on IBM BlueMix Cloud Foundry, and creates a great source of junior developers for the Garage. We plan to hire a couple current gSchool Boulder students, and will be hiring at least two from the San Francisco program as well.
Have you gotten to interact with the current gSchool students?
I’m in Boulder right now meeting with the current gSchool class to expose the students to BlueMix and Cloud Foundry and also to talk to them about opportunities at the IBM Garage. The graduates from gSchool have a terrific set of skills for what we’re looking to do in the Garage for building cloud applications for our customers.
So students who are in the current gSchool cohort should be prepared to start a job with BlueMix Garage once they graduate?
There are things they’ll need to learn in terms of BlueMix and other technologies, but they have a strong foundation thanks to the rigorous training they’ve received at gSchool -- specifically around pair programming and other agile methodologies.
Students in the San Francisco program, who will be actively working with Cloud Foundry, will be an even better fit for the garage. We plan on hiring at least 4 students this year.
Will the gSchool course that launches in the Fall in San Francisco be more geared towards IBM technology?
I would say no. It will be a modified curriculum for deployment onto Cloud Foundry, including IBM BlueMix. But it is based on the same core curriculum today, which is a strong curriculum. It will emphasize some IBM capabilities but it will not be an IBM--specific course.
Will IBM be providing any of the instructors for that cohort at gSchool?
Galvanize is providing the instructors and IBM will provide guest lecturers. The Blue Mix Garage is part of the Galvanize/gSchool campus on 543 Howard Street in San Francisco, and we’re excited by this physical proximity to students. There will be formal mentoring but there will be lots of other interactions. Our desire from an IBM standpoint is to expand our relationship with gSchool to potentially other locations and certainly as there are more classes done on San Francisco and as we learn more, sponsor some specific projects for the students, things like that. We see this as the beginning of our relationship with gSchool and actually with Galvanize as a whole as well.
Do you expect to see the same make-up of students in the September class as you do in past gSchool classes? Are you looking for the same type of student in the admissions process?
I hope we get the same type of applicant for the San Francisco program, since I’m interested in students with diverse backgrounds.
Rachel, you were talking with some gSchool students in Boulder today or this week. How did that go, was there a lot of interest?
There was a lot of interest in understanding IBM Cloud and IBM BlueMix and how that fits in with the cloud that they’ve been working with. In terms of interest of potentially coming to work in San Francisco at the Garage, I would say a third of the students were interested in learning more about it. Of course it’s a geographic move, but I I think that the type of work that we’re doing had strong interest.
There are a ton of coding bootcamps these days. Why do you think that it’s strategic to be involved specifically with Galvanize and gSchool?
What stands out with gSchool is the quality of the instruction. I’m very familiar with the instructors - they’re very strong developers with years of production experience. The approach that gSchool is doing again around pair programming, test-driven development and teaching the full stack is a great fit for us. In addition, the length of the program and the way they immerse students in developing real software projects truly prepares students for a role as a junior developer. Other programs aren’t doing this.
We’re also interested in Galvanize as an entrepreneurship eco-system builder as well; so it has both dimensions. We have the partnership with gSchool, and we have a partnership with the larger Galvanize community in which to grow IBM’s BlueMix Garage.
Rachel, as a potential employer, do you give gSchool more weight or validity because it’s a 6 month program compared to the 12-week bootcamps?
What I like about the 6-month program is that people can come in from a really wide variety of backgrounds and come out as solid junior developers. I don’t think you can accomplish that in 3 months.
At the end of the 6 months, what types of roles do you envision gSchool students will start as?
I would hire them as developers. In fact, I think that the Garage is a terrific fit for them because we will be doing pair programing, working with senior developers, and we’ll have visiting experts from IBM to further increase their learning opportunities.
That sounds like a neat continuation of the students’ learning at gSchool, almost like an apprenticeship. That’s an awesome initiative by IBM.
We view this partnership as helping the Cloud Foundry open source community and building skills, not just for IBM . BlueMix is based on Cloud Foundry and we’re very committed to that open source community.