November 2016

BoldIQ and Veterans Day

Affordable code schools would help vets fill in-demand tech jobs.

Washington state has thousands of unemployed veterans and an estimated 20,000 unfilled technology jobs. Cost is the most prohibitive aspect for many veterans interested in learning to code.

Daniel Browning was a network administrator with six years of experience working under extremely challenging conditions. His experience, though, wasn’t enough to get him a job, even in tech talent-starved Seattle. That’s because Browning’s experience was in the U.S. Army, not the private sector.

Photo: Daniel Browning, a veteran who works at Bellevue startup BoldIQ, speaks during the Washington Technology Industry Association’s FullConTech conference. Browing is a Code Fellows graduate.

The unemployment rate for veterans in Washington state is 3.8 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. It’s slightly higher among veterans who served after Sept. 11, 2001, at 4.1 percent.

Meanwhile, Washington’s economy suffers as a result of an estimated 20,000 unfilled technology jobs that prevent promising companies from growing and succeeding.

The state’s thousands of unemployed veterans could help fill the need, and Washington coding schools – which train basic computer science skills in a matter of weeks or months, not years – could help prepare veterans for technology roles.

While that may sound like a simple solution, both the veterans and the code schools have encountered major challenges in making it happen.

Recruiters want Stanford grads

The military teaches many of the soft skills required in technology roles, including attention to detail and working on teams, and veterans can often easily transition into the jobs with some technical training. Plus, many have obtained the security clearances necessary for government projects in the technology industry.

The tech industry has started to take notice. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos earlier this year pledged to hire 25,000 veteran and military spouses at the company, including training 10,000 veterans and spouses for cloud computing roles. Microsoft and many other technology companies including EMC and SpaceX have initiatives for hiring veterans, too.

The trouble is – even with deliberate measures, such as veteran-only job fairs – the skills veterans learn often don’t satisfy the region’s technology recruiters. There can be a stigma against hiring candidates who didn’t graduate from one of a handful of four-year universities.

As demand for technology talent continues to grow, though, companies are having to consider candidates whose backgrounds look a little different than the traditional Stanford graduate.

Dozens of code schools have formed to respond to the industry’s insatiable demand for programmers. Seattle has at least 12 code schools. Nearly all of them have opened in the past five years.

“A lot of people are often overlooked for a job they can do,” said Sonny Tosco, a recent graduate of Bellevue-based Coding Dojo’s California program.

The son of Filipino immigrants, Tosco wanted to be in the military from the time he was 4 years old. He graduated from prestigious military academy West Point and served in the Army until 2012, when he moved home to Silicon Valley.

“I was having an existential crisis and questioning my purpose outside of the military,” he said. “So I decided to go all-in.”

Tosco founded a company called Limelight, a mobile app that allow users to see others on a map and ask for a photo of their location. The app was inspired by an experience he had in 2012 during the Arab Spring, when he wanted information from people on the ground. He spent two years on the project before giving up on it and enrolling in a coding school. He graduated in early November and already has another plan for a startup.

Veterans, he said, are ideal technology industry entrepreneurs and job candidates.

“From a young point in your career in the Army, you’re already bestowed responsibility, leading people and managing resources,” Tosco said. “I was 28 and chief of operations for a 300-member organization. It was like being CEO for deployment. I don’t often see people that young having responsibility in the corporate world.”

Coding schools can help veterans like Tosco supplement the job skills they learn in the military with fundamental computer science skills. But for many veterans interested in learning to code, cost is the most prohibitive aspect.

The G.I. Bill problem

When Army veteran John Shaff decided he wanted to use his military experience for a technology career, he didn’t want to go back to school for four years.

But the G.I. Bill – the government program that pays for veteran’s undergraduate education – wouldn’t cover his coding school tuition, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars.

“It was honestly very frustrating,” said Shaff, who deployed from Washington’s Joint Base Lewis-McChord to serve as a infantryman and later as an intelligence officer in Afghanistan.

The G.I. Bill covers the full cost of an undergraduate education at any public university or college in the U.S. and many private schools. It also covers non-college degree programs, including truck driving, HVAC repair, emergency medical training and beautician schools. Code schools, until very recently, were not included.

In August, Seattle-based Code Fellows, where Shaff eventually enrolled, became the first coding school in the state to receive approval for the government program.

“From the military perspective, you don’t want to spend an additional two to four years in school. These are adults who have lives and want to transition from their military experience as quickly as possible,” said Code Fellows CEO Dave Parker, whose father-in-law was also a West Point graduate.

What’s great about the Code Fellows programs, he said, is that veterans who want jobs get into the workforce much faster than they would it they went to a traditional school.

Code Fellows has a variety of programs, most of which take about 10 weeks to complete. The school has trained more than 650 students since it was founded in 2013 and has a placement rate of more than 95 percent with an average starting salary of $71,000.

Still, most coding schools aren’t yet able to accept the G.I. Bill and many veterans with technology ambitions, regardless of experience, might have to settle for lower-paying careers.

The Washington Technology Industry Association and other advocacy groups are trying to change that by getting skilled veterans in front of tech companies looking to hire. It’s already starting to work.

Browning, the former Army network administrator, graduated from Code Fellows earlier this year. Through a WTIA program, Browning was hired on at Bellevue startup BoldIQ and has become one of the growing company’s most promising employees.

If Browning could teach computer networking to a group of Afghani citizens in the midst of a war zone, BoldIQ CEO Roei Ganzarski said, the veteran would likely do well at the scheduling software company.

“What we found was (he has) tremendous skills, capability and passion for what (he is) doing,” Ganzarski said, “and (he has) been able to achieve even more than we would have expected from any hire, even a brand-name school.”

Click to read the full article in the PSBJ

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AIN’s Matt Thurber covers Jeppesen Operator at NBAA

Jeppesen is tapping its many resources to create a new single-source software solution combining flight planning, trip planning, runway performance, weight-and-balance, crew scheduling and management and reporting. The new product is called Jeppesen Operator, it is available now and the company is demonstrating it here at NBAA 2016 (Booth 1596).

The Operator project started more than six years ago, when Mike McCready joined the company and took a look at all of Jeppesen’s varied products to try to figure out how they could be developed for the future. Jeppesen has offered flight planning for decades, having purchased Lockheed’s DataPlan service in 1989, and it also is in the international trip-planning business, in addition to publishing aeronautical data and, more recently, developing mobile apps to display that data.

This was a grand opportunity to write a small white paper,” McCready recalled. “I called it ‘flight department in a box.’ I looked at all the Jeppesen services and products and realized that Jeppesen could be in a position to bring a single-source solution [to the market]. It’s a platform to run a flight operation.”

To gauge industry interest and obtain feedback, Jeppesen formed a customer advisory board in 2011. “We started refining what the product should look like,” he said, “and what the software should do.”

The next step was to make sure there were enough internal resources to make the new product possible. Then, he said, “Over the years there was lot of work, and interviews. The customer advisory board gave us a lot of direction.” The board included Part 91 flight departments and Part 135 passenger and cargo operators.

Jeppesen’s international trip planning (ITP) team was key to a fundamental aspect of Operator: supporting schedulers and dispatchers who can do much of this work themselves, provided they are given the right tools. The software did need to be informed by the ITP team, but the software’s users should not be dependent on the team to set up and release flights for their operations.

We found a way of doing that through using flight planning,” said McCready. When creating a flight plan, all the requirements of the flight must be met, so Operator then creates a queries database and from that a checklist for the trip, he explained. The checklist outlines items that the user–perhaps a pilot in a small operation or a scheduler or dispatcher–must either obtain or check. For example, an international trip may require a navigation permit. Operator not only specifies this requirement, but also includes information that will help the user satisfy the requirement, such as contact information for securing the navigation permit.

Behind the scenes, however, the Jeppesen ITP team stands ready to assist. “We know it’s going to take people time to get comfortable with that, and we built in a concierge button,” McCready said. “We want to provide the expertise of the team that you have access to through software.” Jeppesen understands that some operators may fly infrequently to a complicated international destination such as China and need help, or a large charter operator may be busy and wants to offload some of this work. “We still have our ITP team there to support you,” he said. “We built that functionality into the system to make it do-it-yourself. But we’re not going to forget you.”

Jeppesen isn’t trying to replicate what other software providers have created for operations and trip-planning software, and one of the big differentiators is a tie-in with BoldIQ, the creator of the Astro platform and its Solver optimization engine. “We’ve worked with them and helped them refine Astro,” he said, “and we’re in the process of building in the optimization piece so we can provide the Solver module for our customers. It will still have a single user interface, but Astro and Solver run in the background.”

Solver helps operators optimize resources (aircraft, crew, etc.) to make the operation as efficient as possible and also to help recover when something unexpected happens, such as an AOG, sick pilot or other unplanned event. “It’s quite amazing,” McCready said, “and is saving customers 10 to 20 percent due to increased utilization.”

The BoldIQ features won’t be available in the initial release of Operator and should be available next year, but in any case, customers will be able to subscribe to Operator and all of its capabilities, or pay more for Operator plus the BoldIQ features. The runway performance, weight-and-balance and other Operator features are all Jeppesen-developed. Operator will also integrate with third-party programs such as Camp Systemsmaintenance tracking and financial systems.

While Operator is cloud-based and will run via a browser on any computer, Jeppesen is planning to tie apps such as Mobile Flitedeck together with Operator and develop other apps to enhance its performance. “It’s all about making sure we’re connected through the whole process,” he said. “How to bring flight planning, runway performance, weight-and-balance, and make those talk with the trip-planning database so it’s easy to use. You don’t have to be a six-year-trained international trip planner. You’ll be able to be trained and execute trip plans and fly around the world.”

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Flying covers Jeppesen and BoldIQ solution

Jeppesen Launches New Operator Software

Program incorporates all levels of trip planning to make flight departments more efficient. By Pia Bergqvist

At the NBAA Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition in Orlando, Florida, Jeppesen introduced a new software product aimed to streamline the work of flight departments. Jeppesen teamed up with BoldIQ, experts in on-demand flight operations and optimization, to create Jeppesen Operator, which integrates the many levels that go into managing aircraft and crew in an on-demand flight department, such as aircraft maintenance, crew currency, flight planning, weight and balance, flight permits, and more.

Once trip planning begins, the software creates an all-inclusive checklist. The checklist allows multiple operators to work on the same trip plan, and since the software is cloud-based, a plan can be accessed from multiple locations by several operators, allowing a trip plan to be started in one location and finished in another if need be. Operator can be managed through a computer or mobile app.

Jeppesen Operator also combines with Jeppesen’s EFB app to allow flight departments to seamlessly push the trip information to the pilot. In the future, Operator will also connect to Garmin’s Pilot app.

The software allows the operator to pick and choose services offered by Jeppesen. Jeppesen’s concierge service, which is incorporated into the software, allows flight departments to pick and choose the services they are able to handle themselves and hand off more complex ones, such as international permits and handling arrangements, to the professionals at Jeppesen.

Pricing varies depending on the services selected and are paid per tail.

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