Flatiron School Helps Refugees; Cornell Tech Hires Ex-Yahoo Scientist

The technology education scene in the city has seen interesting moves of late—particularly at the Flatiron School and Cornell Tech.

Today, New York-based Flatiron School announced it is working with Re:Coded, a humanitarian nonprofit, to provide a curriculum to Syrian refugees in Iraq to help them find work as software developers.

And last week, Cornell Tech hired Ron Brachman to be director of the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute, replacing Adam Shwartz in the role. Brachman previously served as Yahoo’s chief scientist and head of Yahoo Labs, overseeing the company’s scientific operations. His career includes stints at Bell Labs, AT&T Labs, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Adam Enbar, Flatiron School’s president, says the first class of 50 students in the program with Re:Coded will start in the fall and will run for one year. The collaborative effort will make use of Flatiron’s Learn online education platform to provide training. Graduates from the program will also receive assistance to find jobs with employers that hire remote workers.

Re:Coded, Enbar says, was formed in 2015 to help refugees get job training—and pursue life prospects away from being recruited by armed groups and various forms of exploitation. “Depending on where they are, it’s hard to create real economic opportunities for them that might be local,” he says. The idea behind the collaboration is to teach technical skills that will give refugees in camps in Iraq the chance to find paying jobs. “They may be mobile, and the economy where they are might not be great, but if they have the skills to earn a living remotely it can be a great opportunity,” Enbar says.

This is the latest example of Flatiron School helping people from disadvantaged backgrounds pursue new career opportunities in technology. One month ago, the coding academy introduced a fellowship program to give legal immigrants in New York the chance to learn skills to become Web developers.

Enbar says the nature of technical jobs is changing, with skill sets and the ways of getting work done evolving, which can open up career opportunities. “If you want to be rewriting a search algorithm at Google, you probably need a PhD in math,” he says. “However, if you are helping an entrepreneur build the minimum viable product for an app, or doing remote maintenance work, you don’t need to be on site.”

Students in the program with Re:Coded and Flatiron School, Enbar says, will also receive coaching on how to create a résumé and develop their interview skills. “Re:Coded has people that will work with students on solidifying English language training and to help them with their careers once the program is over,” he says.

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