The Coast News Group
Dan Hendricks, left, owner of Open Source Makers Lab in Vista, listens as Andrea St. Julian, middle, and Aaron White discuss her business goals on Nov. 2. Photo by Steve Puterski

Open Source Saturday aims to build coding skills

VISTA — A gap exists between those entering the workforce and those looking for talented workers in the tech industry.

About five years ago, Dan Hendricks opened the Open Source Makers Lab in Vista, which is a maker space, incubator and co-working research and development facility. And as the membership has swelled to nearly 50, he saw the need to close that gap.

He met Kevin Brewer through the San Diego Tech Hub earlier this year and the two came up with a solution, Open Source Saturday. The weekly gathering allows those coders, and those with a novice level wanting to learn, to collaborate and grow their skillset so they can break through the challenges of landing a job.

“We had a brainstorming session … and just came up with an idea and started it that Saturday,” Brewer said of he and Hendricks’ February meeting at the tech hub. “There are a lot of coding boot camps out there … and they’re not quite ready for the workforce. The idea was to give people an on-ramp post-boot camp, pre first job to give them practical experience.”

The work consists of giving those individuals the right tools and best practices, Brewer said. Additionally, it connected recent graduates, and boot camp grads, with industry professionals for mentorship opportunities while working on real projects, he added.

Brewer said open source projects are massive and difficult to work on, making it impossible to read all the lines of code. He said it ties into the professional world as job with large companies are similar in scope.

“It’s a twofold purpose here,” Hendrick said. “It’s like a technical gym to exercise the skills you’ve learned in the coding camps or university.”

He said some will be focused on code, while others will be discussing resume building, interview skills, while pulling people into the workforce.

Yet, another chance meeting, this time with Steph Huynh, founder of Vulcan Design Studio, has led to a pair of events, including Reframe/Reboot Coding Challenge from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Nov. 17 in Vista and Escondido, in partnership with the San Diego Code School.

Huynh connected with Hendricks and Brewer for Hacktoberfest, a global, two-day event dedicated to open-sourced coding. The trio also collaborated with SDCS, Learn Academy and SoftStack Factory to organize and host the event.

The local Hacktoberfest had about 50 people participate and was one of the only such events in the county, Huynh said.

“It’s this great collaborative group that came together and pulled it off,” Huynh said.  “It was a great event.”

And due to the success of Hacktoberfest, Huynh said Brewer came up with Reframe/Reboot as a way to encourage coders to explore new coding languages. OSML and the SDCS will play host.

“There are about 20 different languages … and there are exercises that help you build off that to learn that new language. We really want people to expose themselves to other languages.”

Meanwhile, Hendricks and Brewer are eager to grow Open Source Saturday. They said there is potential for growth such as connecting with one of the colleges in North County or a cohort program.

In addition, Hendricks said focus programs such as Hacktoberfest or Reframe/Reboot will remain a staple of Open Source Saturday.