Railsbridge: City of Bridges

by Brittany Martin

All together, a total of 446 bridges are in the city of Pittsburgh, officially the city with the most bridges in the world. Yesterday, another bridge was added to this fair city --- Railsbridge Pittsburgh!

Learning the basics of Ruby and Rails at Railsbridge Pittsburgh 2015

Learning the basics of Ruby and Rails at Railsbridge Pittsburgh 2015

RailsBridge workshops are a free and fun way to get started or level up with Rails, Ruby, and other web technologies. Railsbridge events focus on increasing diversity in tech so that people of all backgrounds can feel welcome and comfortable in our industry. After returning from San Francisco, I noticed that there was a lack of accessible education for women to try out coding. Knowing how much I loved participating in Railsbridge in San Francisco, I partnered with Pittsburgh's Code & Supply and the Carnegie Museum of Art to hold the first Railsbridge in Pittsburgh in many years. 

Coding at the CMOA

Coding at the CMOA

After a smooth Installfest on Friday night, all of the students, teachers and TAs gathered in a classroom in the museum's basement. Eric and Carol lead the students through the basics of Ruby in the morning and transitioned into Rails by building a basic voting app. The breakfast and lunch provided by the CMOA was delicious and the group really enjoyed taking an hour break to walk around and see the art collection. The students asked fantastic questions throughout the sessions and were eager to hear about resources on how they can continue to code.

Sara, my co-organizer, and I learned a lot from the feedback from the students and the volunteers.

Key takeaways: 

  • We need to have different levels for students to choose from (we tried one level on this round). Skill sets varied from never-code to frontend developer. 
  • The museum and Oakland was accessible to everyone. Stay in that area!
  • The teachers' experimental way of teaching (guess what happens!) was a hit
  • The TAs scattered and were readily available right away if help was needed
  • Student can walk through Installfest by themselves (half of our students elected to set themselves up)
  • Sending an email a week ahead was really effective in getting "maybes" to drop so that eager students on the waitlist could join
  • Setting up a Slack channel ahead of time was helpful for questions but we needed higher adoption

I'm off to Code & Supply's End of the Year party so I'm going to leave you with the list of incredible people who made this weekend a success. 

The "Can't Thank You Enough" List

  • Sara Meier (Co-Organizer)
  • Justin Reese and Colin Dean (Code & Supply)
  • Neil Kulas and Dave Copeland (CMOA)
  • Eric Sipple and Carol Nichols || Goulding (Teachers)
  • Jake Wengroff, Brent Gaynor, Dave Balzer, Jake Goulding, Evan DiBiase, Jesse Hanley and Victor Pudelski (TAs)
  • Scott Moore, Nathan Smith and Erin Remaley (OpenArc) -- thank you, for sponsoring!
  • Kristin Petty and Nathan Martin (Deeplocal) -- thank you, for sponsoring!
  • All of the attending students
  • Anna Neyzberg (Railsbridge HQ)
  • Patrick Fitzgerald, Danielle Greaves and the IT team (Pittsburgh Cultural Trust
  • The NIRD LLC team
  • Jeff Waltrowski (fiancĂ© extraordinaire)
  • George L.C. Brown (loyal canine)

We'll be back in 2016 with another Railsbridge!