Moringa Core 3 Final week

Article by Nancy Momanyi

Graduation pic

Graduation is coming up, and such a momentous occasion calls for reflection.  Betty who is one of the students from the graduating class says 6 months ago she had no idea how the Moringa School experience was going to be. Here she was, fresh out of campus about to undertake a coding boot camp with no idea of what to expect. 6 months down the line, she can comfortably state that it has been one of the best decisions she has ever made!
At Moringa,  she learnt more than just programming . She learnt how to be part of a team, to take part in building something awesome through combined efforts, interacting with other developers on both a professional and personal level and to grow her developer skills as well as interpersonal skills.
It has been a truly wonderful experience that I’d recommend to anyone, she says.

Andrew who is excited to finally achieve his dream of being a software developer says his experience in Moringa has been exhilarating, having gone through university in Kenya he says this has been a great stepping stone towards joining the employment world. The technical training in Moringa has provided him with sufficient confidence in his skills to take on any technical challenge. He has greatly improved his interpersonal skills which is often a challenge to developers. He would highly recommend the program to anyone looking for a career in tech.

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Newton who is the class representative of the class says he looks back on the past five months and is left with nothing but wonder. Wonder at how much he has grown. Not only has he advanced his knowledge in programming but he has learnt to become a problem solver. For his final project he is working on developing a software called Kid zone. This is a software that is used to teach kids how to program. It has a built in text editor and a very basic curriculum that is easy for young children to be able to learn how to code.

Our last interview was with Dennis who joined Moringa School with a dream of becoming Kenya’s best Software Developer. He says that he hopes to join Andela after completing the program.  He mentions that the best part about Moringa is that he not only learnt how to become a good programmer but also got a chance to work with the brightest minds. Moringa School is vibrant, humongous and diverse. Both the students and the staff are working to make it a top-ranked developer institution . Its located in the heart of Nairobi and offers endless opportunities to experience different cultures.

Through these interviews we got to learn that all the students in the class acknowledge that their technical mentors have played a big role in getting them this far. We as the Moringa School community are so proud of them and wish them the best in their journey.

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Facebook Developers Circle

Article By

Nancy Momanyi.

 

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Facebook Developers Circle is a community that is free to join by any developer. The aim of the group is to enable information sharing between developers and create a positive impact within the developer community within a particular country. The group is open to anyone who is interested in learning about the newest technologies from Facebook. The group is headed by a tech industry leader in a local community. The Kenyan team is spearheaded by Anthony Nandaa who is an Engineering team lead at Andela.  The group is open to everyone, be it a student learning how to program or an experienced developer looking to turn an idea into reality. The community enables developers both to learn and network with others in the industry.

This program has been launched only in a few cities across the globe. We are privileged to have this program in Kenya since March 2017. Moringa school and Facebook Developers Circle hold the meetup monthly for the Nairobi group. In addition to the monthly meetups, there are events, conferences and hackathons. To organize for this there is a Facebook group where members can share code, links and videos. The last meetup’s topic was conversational bots.

Chat bots are computer programs designed to simulate human conversations especially over the internet. The average person has at least three messaging apps on their phones. This has led to the development of chat bots. This is a new concept in artificial intelligence and brands are planning to use chatbots more in the future but with a more customer centered approach with hope to gain more customer insights, personalizing their brand and improving the general user experience. According to Thomas Nyambati, there are two types of Bot models. To begin with there are the generative models that generate responses from scratch primarily based on deep learning models and they mainly depend on the ability of a bot to gain more information as time goes by. There are also retrieval based models that generate responses from predefined responses. This model can incorporate machine learning to understand different contexts and is the one employed.

The developers in attendance were taken through the steps they require to develop and implement chat bots. Moringa Core 5 students were particularly interested in knowing how these bots can be developed from scratch using languages like Python. Depending on the time, nature and channel different methods can be used. The panel discussion ended with the developers interested told to create videos showing how their bot works and submit it to the Facebook group for review.

In addition to fostering online and offline community and collaboration, Facebook

developer circles wants to help developers gain new skills. The group is partnering with Udacity, one of the largest online training platforms in the world, to launch custom Facebook training programs for our Developer Circles community, which will be available via Developer Circles Facebook groups across the globe. The Developer Circles meetup is also a chance for developers to network and get opportunities as well as learn about coding boot camps like Moringa School. The Moringa school community is glad to partner with Facebook Developers circle to create a large community of developers in Nairobi.

 

 

 

 

Moringa School Women in Tech

Vivian PresentationStudies have shown that young girls are less interested in studying fields dominated by their male counterparts due to negative stereotypes of their abilities and lack of female role models in that area. This is why women in technology movements have a big role to play in changing the the perception that young women have about technology.

Last week we were privileged to have Vivian Opondo, a Moringa School alumni come to to give a talk on how to increase the number of Women in tech. If you are a woman in the tech industry in Africa you may find it a little bit isolated. This is what most of the young women who attended the event thought. After giving various women from the panel a chance to speak we came up with the reasons why most girls that join tech related careers always seem to fall off along the way.  We came up with some of the ways we can  encourage more girls not only to join tech but also to keep the momentum once they join.

Jill who is a curriculum engineer at Moringa School noted that a number of the girls drop out of the program after a few weeks. The reasons vary but it is mainly because that they feel that the field is not diverse, creative and exciting. This is a myth because there are so many sectors in the tech industry that require you to use your creativity to solve problems. There are also so many exciting new opportunities in the tech sector as we are in a digital era.

Vivian who was leading the discussion took us through various ways she thinks that we can make the tech journey for most of these young women more engaging. We decided on having forums where we could learn code and after a few sessions plan for a hackathon. We also needed to have various key players in the industry to come and talk to these girls. It is important for them to have mentors in their journey so that they can hear various people talk about how they got into tech and how it has changed their way of thinking.

In an article on Quora, Dolly Sighn answered a question someone asked on the advice seasoned women in tech would give younger girls trying to make a career in tech. She said that growing up in the heart of silicon valley she had always avoided the idea of a career in tech because she generally enjoyed her humanity classes more than her math classes. She thought that the only way to work in tech was to get a degree in computer science which was not the case. Even with no background in a tech related course you can easily learn programming,design and any other area of tech.

The other issue that was pointed out by Lucy who is a former Moringa School student is that most of the tech events that were held were attended by mostly male developers. This made the female participants feel  left out of a male dominated field. A few of the other younger girls currently in the program stated that they would feel more comfortable attending the tech events together with their female counterparts. We concluded that having such women tech groups was important because we could then attend events together as a team and slowly grow the number of women in these events.

We hope to continue to grow our Women in tech community and to reach out to girls and women who are joining tech or to those already in the industry. We will involve new women in tech, already experienced developers and key industry players so that everyone can have someone to mentor them. We encourage anyone that is interested in being a part of the Moringa School Women in Tech group to join us and grow our community.

 

Graduation Lessons

By Nancy Momanyi,

Moringa School Staff

IMG_0334The Moringa community is definitely different from any normal school environment. It does not only provide growth for the students but for the entire society as well. What sets it apart from anywhere else is the diverse culture that both the students and the staff come from. Everyone feels accepted from the first day and you can not easily tell the difference between a student and a technical mentor. Technical mentors are there to guide the students through the course work.

This past week as the Moringa Prep Students were headed for their graduation we took the time to ask a few students and technical mentors what they thought of the five week program. The kind of responses I got gave me a different perspective to the entire program. Esther from the class pointed out the best thing she had gotten from the whole program is the art of becoming an Autodidact.  An autodidact is someone who learns something in a particular field without the benefit of formal education.

This particular student captured my attention because I had always wondered why so many people in the tech industry prefer not to go through formal learning methods. She mentioned that at Moringa School she had managed to learn various programming concepts in a very short period of time because of the self learning approach were they taught themselves new concepts and worked with their peers to solve projects that they were given. The Moringa Prep program taught her that even without having a formal classroom environment she could learn about any subject matter within a very short period of time.

Philip Weru pointed out that peer learning is a skill that he intended to use later in his programming career. The program taught him that although he was an independent learner he would need help from team mates if he was to get tasks done on time. He learnt how to troubleshoot various coding problems and use platforms like stack overflow to see if other programmers had experienced similar problems. Stalk overflow is a platform where you can ask any tech related question mostly about programming and get various solutions from different programmers.

The last person that was interviewed was Moses Okemwa, a technical mentor who mentioned that the main thing that he has learnt being at Moringa school is the importance of community. He even mentioned about how they recently had a talk on diversity and inclusion. The Moringa school community generally encourages everyone to treat others with respect even if they are different from you which is clearly seen in by how the students and staff interact with each other.

It might have been the end of the program for the Moringa prep students but it definitely was not the end their journey. This program was an eye opener for most of them who learnt how to self learn and use their skills to solve real life problems.

CYBER SECURITY AT MORINGA SCHOOL

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By Zoe Ochwango, Moringa School Staff.

From the 27th of May to 6th of July, 2017, Moringa School ran a course on Cyber Security with Africahackon, which had a great reception from tech enthusiasts in Kenya. The idea for the training was motivated by three main aspects: the need to embrace new trends in technology, how cybersecurity is becoming increasingly needed as technology use increases, and finally, the national security of any country highly depends on it. We have always challenged ourselves to constantly work to becoming more relevant in the continuously changing priorities of a country and job market.

Kenya has suffered from many cybersecurity attacks, ranging from attempts to disrupt critical infrastructure to steal information, funds and disrupt delivery of essential services. A more recent one was speculations regarding the hacking of Safaricom and MPESA services for a day. Because close to 45% of Kenya’s GDP flows through MPESA, the hacking of such a service in the future would do much harm to the economy of the nation. With majority of the things we do today going online – working, shopping, playing, and dependence on digital services quickly growing – the need to protect our information from being maliciously disrupted or misused is really important. Cases of cyber security threats have also been on the increase now than ever before. Therefore having a stable, safe and resilient cyberspace is of utmost importance to our daily life.

So what really is cybersecurity?

As RSA Security LLC puts it:

“Cybersecurity is not about writing elegant code or building a high performance network. It is about managing risks. The reason we continually fail to adequately secure our networks is not a failure to understand technology, but a failure to understand people and how they behave. That’s why some of the best penetration testers and incident investigators come from non-STEM backgrounds”

An article in the Harvard Business Review referred to information security scientists as:

“The Sexiest Job of the 21st Century.”

Cyber security is certainly a career that requires not only just strong analytical thinking skills, but also a creative mind with the ability to know how systems can be interfered with. Most times engineers create systems which they are later on surprised to see people use in ways they never thought would be possible. Therefore, learning cybersecurity will push one to higher levels of creativity to think through those kinds of things.

What does the future look like on cybersecurity?

The reality is that if someone wants to be an expert at risk management presently, the best ground will be in cybersecurity. It was ranked 8th on World Report’s list of the 100 best jobs for 2015 by USnews, with an estimated 36.5 % profession growth rate by 2022, 209,000 vacant cybersecurity jobs in 2015 in the U.S and a whopping $88,890 median yearly pay for an information security analyst.

Through the training program organised by Moringa School, trainees were able to understand online security concepts such as The course we had helped those who came for it understand what online security is, how they can protect their digital life; home or work (threat landscape), risk management and  fundamental challenges of networking and communication. They also had an opportunity to know harmful online threats and the steps on how to tackle this.

Moringa School is presently scaling to other countries; Tanzania, Nigeria and Ghana, with these countries also facing the same challenges on cyber security attacks as the others, the need to have a part of the population of these countries competent to handle these challenges is one of our top priorities. Our vision, which is to build human capacity by training people of varied technical ability in a holistic way, is our guiding light!

Giants in Programming

By James Kimani, Moringa Prep

Hello world. My name is James Kimani. I recently joined Moringa School for the Moringa prep program and I am planning to go back to do ruby on rails and java. This story narrows down my experience in Moringa School and what prompted me to join Moringa School.

I have a degree in procurement. In campus I fell in love with technology. I had interest which slowly grew into passion. This is why I ventured into programming. I strongly believe that any business that does not utilize technology loses profits. A business that does not make use of technology does not fully achieve its potential. Technology allows you to have clients and business partners from anywhere in the world. Technology creates solutions to problems in the society. Technology makes life easier and fun. Technology enables you to work remotely from home. The final and most crucial to me-technology allows you to spend more time with family; this is because you can easily become your own BOSS.

Upon searching for a school in Kenya that provides high quality education and training in programming, I almost threw in the towel until my friend recommended me to join Moringa School. He had heard good things about the school from his friends. It was at such a pivotal time because I was sick of watching online tutorials on YouTube. I needed a classroom setup where I could consult someone if I got stuck and learn more from other people. I applied for Moringa School and I was called for an interview. I said to myself “interview?! This is interesting.” In Kenya if you apply for a course most schools never call you for an interview. You are just required to submit your qualifications and pay the school fees. Moringa School is different. They actually want to know why you are interested in programming, this helps them to know you and help you achieve your dreams.

Rolling up my sleeves for the first day and I will say it was fun! After orientation we were introduced to our very own Technical Mentors. Technical mentors help you in your studies whenever you face any challenge; they are always there ready to help. The kind of learning style at Moringa School is different from the ones people are used to. You have peer programming. This is where you get to study in pairs. You have a partner, who you study together with, do code practice and challenges with. Then after a short duration of time, like two days, you switch to a different partner. It is fun because you get to work with people who think different from you; you are also able to learn more than you could have otherwise studying alone. Moringa School also provides time for you to work alone.

Moringa School has sweet notes hosted online. I must admit it’s remarkable. Their notes are detailed and very helpful. You are able to understand code easier because of its simplicity and do code practice. Moringa School does not condone copy pasting of code because they actually want students to learn. You get to have one on ones with your technical mentor so that they can know how you are progressing. On Friday you do an independent project which helps you put into practice what you have been learning the entire week. We hang with the senior developers who are doing the more advanced programming and they get to advice you, see your projects and comment on it.

I did the Moringa prep program. Moringa prep is an introduction to programming. You get to learn front-end web development using html, css, bootstrap and a little JavaScript and jQuery. You later get to advance when you pass the class and join Moringa core. In Moringa core you get to choose the android package or ruby on rails package. The android package has deeper JavaScript, java and android app development. The ruby on rails basically is a web development framework written in ruby.

My journey in Moringa School was amazing. It stretched my mind and got me to realize that I am capable of doing more than I can imagine. I grew on my interpersonal skills-I am now able to express myself better. This is because you get to present your projects to other people. There are numerous activities in Moringa School which help in growth, some of them are: stand-ups, lightning talks, group projects and independent projects among many others. There is usually yoga in the evening at least twice a week. On Thursday Moringa School invites a guest speaker who is in the industry and they get to advise us. We interact with them and actually get to grow and know what is expected of us. It is a great place to network and meet Giants in programming. One thing that stood out for me was the staff. Moringa school has the friendliest staff I’ve ever meet. They are always cheerful and willing to help. Moringa School is more of a family.

Moringa School teaches you learn how to learn. At first, when I heard this statement during orientation I did not understand it. Having gone through the Moringa prep I actually feel comfortable learning by myself how to code which I actually didn’t before I joined Moringa School. I know how to do proper research, learn a new programming language by myself using documentations and videos. That I would only have achieved through Moringa School.

So, would I recommend somebody to join Moringa School? I already did and they have already joined. I recommended a friend of my mine to join Moringa School Immediately after I had an interview. I know a serious and professional school when I see one. I am sure that very soon Moringa School will be in-taking more than 1000 students in a single cohort because people are actually realising the importance of Technology. If you want to join a programming school and you are not certain which school you want to join, I recommend you to join Moringa School.

My advice to an aspiring developer is: be strong, do not be fainthearted and do not give up. You do not need to understand a concept the first time, second time or third time. Just do practice. Success is the sum of small efforts — repeated day in and day out. A ship is safe in the harbour but that’s not what ships are built for. Push yourself; do not be in a comfort zone!

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A MOMENT CAPTURED

By Newton Karanu, MC3
My history
In my life, since I started having a conscious mind, I developed the urge to seek information. It is all I ever wanted. I felt like I had this thirst that could not be quenched by anything but information. So my journey began. I would go to my dad’s library just to read his Physics, Maths and Computer Programming books in order to try quenching my thirst. This went on for a while until I got to high school. Then my thirst increased tenfold. This was mainly because I felt like the school I was in wasn’t providing me with the necessary information that I needed. By the time I was done with high school, I had finished my virtual degree in psychology as I had read all of the psychology books at home.

One night, while in the library, I got a hold of a book written Fortran. This is where my journey in programming begun. I always wanted to understand what makes computers to work. So I began my first language. It was hectic. I quit in a few days after I had gone through almost half the book and I could not make sense of any of what I read. So I moved on and started learning command prompt. I perfected my skill so much that I started making viruses in high school for the fun of watching computers do other things than what they were programmed to do. I got done with high school and wondered, what next.

Moringa school
Life after high school was funny, everyone wanted me to go to university. As per what I had heard from by siblings, University was not just the place for me. So I started searching. Then one day in the newspaper, I read about moringa school. From the very word go, my intuitively knew that this was the place to go, so I emailed them and asked for an interview. What a shock it was for me when I got replied to that very same day. An interview was arranged and I came in prepared to answer the hardest questions in my life. The person interviewing me, I later came to learn that he was my technical mentor was awesome. He didn’t just ask me questions because they were to be asked, I felt like he actually meant each and every one of them. He cared. Soon after, I got my invitation email.

Moringa Prep
It was the most confusing moment of my life. Having been used to the normal classroom setup, the flipped classroom literally flipped my mind. But I was determined to know what javascript and git were, so I kept on working. Throughout the five weeks of prep, it was the best of times and the hardest of times also. The five weeks felt like five months, but now as I look back, the five weeks were like than 5 minutes. Finally, we were graduating. The best feeling was when I was shaking the hands of my mentor and the CEO of moringa. Later that evening, we decided to take our mentor out. It was the best feeling I had in a long time. I felt like I really belong in Moringa school family.

Moringa Core
After finishing Moringa prep, I went for a 10-week break, before beginning ruby. In that period, I had been shaped by Moringa School to understand that in as much as everyone is diverse, I need to be inclusive of them. I started looking at things in a very different perspective and I liked it. Sooner than later, I was back in Moringa School to begin my core classes. I felt like Prep was baby steps. I was now in a marathon. As I go on with this journey of coding, I would like to pass my gratitude to Moringa School, and tell them that I wouldn’t be where I am right now were it not for them. Live long and prosper!