A Pittsburgh Bridge Clojure

by Brittany Martin

user=> (prn "Hello ClojureBridge Pittsburgh")
"Hello ClojureBridge Pittsburgh"

The first ClojureBridge Pittsburgh is a wrap! Strangely, the Liberty Bridge caught fire while workers worked on a renovation project last Friday afternoon. The bridge had to be closed along with the Liberty Tunnel, causing long traffic backups. That didn't stop us!

For a rundown of why I chose to organize a ClojureBridge, you can read more here. I am going to share what made the event a success, what could be improved for next time and whom I owe a mountain of gratitude. 


What Worked

  • I wanted to run another workshop after Railsbridge Pittsburgh and Startup Weekend Pittsburgh: Women's Edition were a success but I needed a host partner. Elisa from Truefit proactively asked if I had an event in mind. Truefit is located in the gorgeous newly rennovated Union Trust building downtown. Not only did we have a brand new lecture room to teach in but Elisa herself put a lot of time in to make sure the event ran smoothly. 
  • The students asked thoughtful questions and were so excited to continue learning Clojure that they are taking on a bonus project at Girl Develop It Pittsburgh.

What Was Hard

  • This workshop was aimed at intermediate female developers. Unfortunately, they are hard to find in Pittsburgh. We reached out to via StartNow Pittsburgh, Girl Develop It and Code & Supply but in the end, ended up with a class of 10, instead of 30. 
  • Clojure is still obscure in Pittsburgh so I was worried about locating teachers. While we ended up with 4 wonderful teachers, I spent a lot of time trying to locate female teachers in surrounding cities. Even with an offer to pay for them to travel to Pittsburgh, no takers. The students agreed that being taught by male allies still carried the mission of diversifying tech. 

What Could Be Improved for Next Time

  • Pittsburgh can feel small at time but I was amazed that the majority of our attendees did not know each other. Since we stuck to a lecture style format, we missed an opportunity to create groups to do more project based learning. 
  • Our attendees were intermediate so it would have made sense to assign homework covering the basics of Clojure so we could have tackled harder material with teacher assistance. 

Special Thanks

  • My co-organizer, Jessica Nebgen
  • Host extraordinaire, Elisa Llera
  • Our teachers, Benjamin R. Haskell, Bruce Adams, Katrina Hall & Matt Enright
  • Our ten students (shout out to Katelyn Hertel who flew in from New York City for the workshop)
  • ClojureBridge HQ, especially Yoko Harada and Katherine Fellows

I'll be pondering on my next workshop for 2017. Please leave a comment with your ideas and your offer to help!