Warner Pacific launches sourceU tech school
Warner Pacific University, a 600-student university in Montavilla, on Wednesday launched a new tech school called sourceU. It will offer two degrees that mix liberal arts teaching with coding and cybersecurity training from Epicodus and Ripera.
The two- and four-year courses open in August 2019 and "sticker price" tuition will be approximately $37,000 and $75,000 respectively.
Epicodus is a six-year old coding school in downtown Portland which offers intensive classes. Students work in a flipped classroom, watching lectures at home, then working on projects with teachers in attendance to help them. The school has become known for its no-frills offerings, including a basic introduction to coding which takes place three hours a night, two nights a week, for 15 weeks and costs just $100.
"Warner Pacific's students are more than 60 percent students of color, and we felt this was a way we could partner with a good organization that's doing the work in tech, and wrap around their program an accredited degree," Warner Pacific President Andrea Cook told the Business Tribune.
She said they want to serve students who "often had the sense that they could not do tech" and may be put off by the bro culture of tech firms.
The degree would give the student "the opportunity to get all the training they need through Epicodus and through Ripera, and also end up with a degree that is marketable. It gives them some of the essential skills related to problem solving, critical thinking, and being able to work in teams, that a lot of the organizations indicated they wanted to see for their tech workers."
School to office pipeline
The idea for sourceU came from a paper written by Luke Goble of Warner Pacific and Ben Sand, to reimagine tech education so that it would be responsive to what the industry wants. It would also be friendly to women and people of color.
They met with more than 100 tech leaders in Portland to ask them what kind of workforce and skills they want. Warner Pacific trustees OK'd it last April and by the fall they had a curriculum, and by December a fully accredited course.
Working with Epicodus, Warner Pacific will offer an associate's degree in web and mobile development and a bachelor's degree in digital design. Working with Riperia the university will offer in an associate's degree in cybersecurity with an IT focus and a bachelor's degree in cybersecurity.
They will offer Warner Pacific tech courses but in the style of Epicodus, with a flipped classroom, something new to the university but common in e-learning.
It will take 16 months to get the associates degree, 32 months for the bachelors. Students will take regular courses, such as writing and history, although everything will relate to technology. "Ethics and technology," said Goble, giving an example. "In asking questions about urban life, it'll be technology and the city. So all of the courses will be tailored around 'How do we prepare you as a future tech leader?' but also to teach about the interrelatedness of all things, which is just as useful as the skill to build a website."
Goble added, "The flipped classroom is a mindset of saying 'What do I have to do to get students to learn without me talking all the time?'"
The school will be built out on the other side of the eighth floor where Epicodus is based. SourceU officials showed off renderings depicting more IKEA cubbies and long tables divided by translucent screens. The design is by Greenbox Architecture and the construction company will be Fleschner Construction. Owner Ashley Fleschner said his company was doing the tenant improvement work at cost.
Epicodus CEO Michael Kaiser-Nyman started his school to make it easier for people to learn coding and other IT skills, and used curriculum based on what skills software developers said they wanted to see in new hires. Traditional computer science degrees were not fulfilling the need. But he also recognized that that employers prefer people with full degrees because it usually means they have learned critical thinking, writing and group communication skills along the way.
Ben Sand, CEO, Portland Leadership Foundation and advisor to Warner Pacific President Andrea Cook, said that the school aims to shake up the tech world.
"This is about disrupting the tech education space, so we're intentionally going to be recruiting students of color and women. Will white males be welcome here? Of course, absolutely. But we're setting out with that intention. And that's an identity marker of what sourceU will become."
Cyber house rules
Kris Rosenberg, Riperia's chief learning officer, was formerly at the Oregon Institute of Technology, Wilsonville campus. A specialist in teaching cybersecurity he said how office IT teams now must be skilled in not only network administration, threat recognition and compliance testing, but also have the human skills to keep users from unsafe practices.
Rosenberg said, "Cybersecurity is not a problem that's going to be replaced by artificial intelligence. It's a social issue, it's a people issue. Training people who understand technology but who have human interaction skills, to develop secure cultures, that's going to be critical. Also, it's the highest paying tech job. The median salary is $90,000 a year. So, half the people are making more than that. The salaries in some parts of the country are in the $150,000 to $180,000 range. It's very, very in demand."
He added there are 3,000 cybersecurity positions open in the state of Oregon.
Kameron Berry a junior at Centennial High School, came because his mom said it was a meeting about college. "Centennial is trying to focus more on coding. We partner with the Center for Advanced Learning, to learn about coding and business stuff, to push us into more realistic opportunities."
Warner Pacific University
Christian liberal arts university
Avg cost after aid: $20,000
Graduation rate: 44 percent
Acceptance rate: 51 percent
Address: 2219 S.E. 68th Ave., Portland
Undergraduate enrollment: 600
Address: 400 SW Sixth Ave. #800, Portland