Issue 27

The dream of a Summer School came true: the Fortech hiSchool Training Program

Sorina Mone
Marketing manager


Organizing practical courses for high school students was one of the first pillars of Fortech"s vision I became aware of after joining the company. This "dream" was kept on the company"s agenda until the conditions were favorable to make it real.

The new main office opened up nice perspectives for initiatives that require a special logistic, dedicated people and well connected partners. With all these elements in place, the HR department and a team of passionate guys from Fortech, together with a group of teachers from "Avram Iancu" theoretical high school set the stage for the hiSchool Training program.

What is Fortech hiSchool Training?

This program is a common initiative of Fortech and "Avram Iancu" theoretical high school aiming at organizing practical workshops for high school students interested in getting in depth knowledge and understanding of the IT field. The objective of the Training sessions is to complement the notions acquired in school with practical data and to put students in contact with the environment they will face in college and after graduation.

We want to be the organization that contributes not only to meeting the demand for IT specialists for the second half of 2014 or even for 2015... but also for the next 10 to 20 years.

We strongly believe that to prepare the specialists of tomorrow we must invest significantly in the children and youth of today. It is also true that to excel in any field, the first encounter with it must take place at as early an age as possible. In this context, meeting some role models or real landmarks is truly valuable. We have no Steve Jobs to tell an entire nation that each child must learn programming since this activity teaches one how to think (i.e. "Code Starts"). What we have at Fortech are passionate people who devoted a part of their spare time to equally enthusiastic and inquisitive kids, who will soon face one of the most important decisions in their lives.

Having wrapped up the vision section, we will now go over the log of the 13 days spent with our students.

Day 1  - Careers in IT

We make acquaintances... current and future business analyst, project manager, programmer, designer. Over 40 high school students in Fortech"s Happy Bistro, shy at the first meeting with "the engineers". We unveiled a career in IT from different perspectives, all of them present in a project team: the business analyst"s perspective, the project manager"s, the programmer"s, the QA"s, the system engineer"s, the designer"s.

"These discussions motivated and convinced most of us to choose careers in IT. They expanded our horizons, giving us the chance to learn what it means to work in this field" Alex, Rares, Beatrice and Adina told us.

We got really happy when we had to add an extra session for workshop number 2 to accommodate more than 20 students, the cap we set up for the following sessions. The first workshops followed:

Day 2 - Introduction to OOP 

Day 3 - Web programming

Day 4 - MS Office

Day 5 - Programming best practices

This was one of the most appreciated workshops, as it "oozed" the practical experience of the Fortech programmers. Students passionate about programming had the unexpected opportunity to see what a "clean" code means, what code refactoring and reuse involves and to learn about methods for code analysis.

"We coded games and web pages and learned to keep our code clean" Sergiu, Dragos, Lorand and Ionut told us.

Day 6 - Time management

Day 7 - Agile concepts

Learning an Agile methodology through a game is the most practical and interactive way. In this workshop we resumed the Scrum Lego City simulation we made at the 2014 edition of the ..."even mammoths can be Agile" event. It was interesting to notice that the most frequent mistakes present during this simulation, which happen in the context of an Agile project, such as clarifying the specifications with the product manager, were made less frequently by students than by graduates! While this is no ground for an objective conclusion, we realized that restrictions in communication and thought are inversely proportional with age, that young people are less fearful of making mistakes and more likely to ask questions when in doubt than their older counterparts. It would be a pity not to make the most of this situation.

Day 8 - Mobile application programming (iOS and Android)

Day 9 - Branding & graphic design

The project we proposed was branding... the Internet. 3 surprising concepts were proposed (naming, logo, slogan etc.). The students used the Adobe suite to prepare the design and supported the concepts in the simulation of a pitch.

Day 10 - Teamwork

This is another key skill nurtured through a highly interactive and at the same time funny workshop. The result of the teamwork was: a video material devised, directed and filmed by the students themselves.

The last 3 workshops targeted technical concepts and skill building:

Day 11 - Collaborative tools - best practices

Day 12 - Software testing and quality assurance

Day 13 - SQL databases

Retrospective - the 2014 summer edition of the Fortech hiSchool Training in numbers:

  • 50 high school students
  • 15 Fortech trainers
  • 4 trainers from "Avram Iancu" high school
  • 13 workshops
  • 52 hours spent by students at Fortech

We express our gratitude to the teachers from "Avram Iancu" high school, who were involved in this project, to the attending students and to their parents for the support offered.

"My son is one of the "Avram Iancu" high school students who attended the workshops organized by Fortech. He came home delighted by what he saw and what was presented to the students during the first days. Having a company do such a thing for these kids is fantastic and the fact that Fortech opens the kids" eyes in such a dynamic field as IT deserves our praise. Congratulations to Mr. Vaduva, the teachers from "Avram Iancu" and their collaborators!"  (source: Ziar de Cluj)

What"s next?

This was the story of a pilot project. We will repeat the program with a new series of workshops this fall. We look forward to welcoming at Fortech new students eager to learn about IT!



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