(Photo by Flickr user Split the Kipper, used under a Creative Commons license)
“I have to understand this community before I can actively align myself with the demands that exist,” Brian LeDuc tells me over coffee in Metro Center. And this is precisely what the energetic new director of The Iron Yard’s D.C. campus is set on doing.
LeDuc comes from a background in education and student leadership training, but worked most recently at the Advisory Board Company as an edtech consultant. In this capacity he says he’s seen technology education evolve over the past few years, and has become “captivated” by the bootcamp model.
See, there’s this giant market need for junior devs. And LeDuc sees bootcamps as a completely new pathway toward this type of career — and that’s exciting, even from a purely educational standpoint. But in D.C. LeDuc sees a further, unique value for bootcamps. He sees the opportunity for people to come in with a strong educational and experiential background in, say, politics or law, and combine that with coding skills to get to the next level of their careers.
In short, LeDuc jumped at the chance to serve these students.
Now, just six weeks into the new job, LeDuc is busy outlining his goals and plans as campus director. Those plans? First up, The Iron Yard has a forthcoming new campus on G and 14th NW. Classes are being taught out of a provisional space in the same building while the expansive new location wraps up construction — LeDuc hopes it’ll open by the end of the year.
Second, LeDuc aims to “respect and foster” the diversity of Iron Yard students. This means working to make courses more accessible — a feat Iron Yard works to accomplish through $1,000 scholarships for students from diverse backgrounds.
Finally LeDuc is looking to build upon the Iron Yard’s advisory board, a group of companies that the bootcamp turns to for advice on market needs, hiring partnerships and more. The Iron Yard’s D.C. board includes companies like Social Tables, Optoro, AOL, WeddingWire and more, but LeDuc aims to expand this council to include, potentially, government agencies and more large enterprise businesses.
Of course, success in all these goals rests on LeDuc really immersing himself in the tech community in D.C., a fact of which LeDuc is only too aware. Hence his cold calls and emails, his coffee dates, his questions.
“I only see myself diving deeper into the D.C. tech community,” he said.