A teenager who has been coding for several years at a local technology initiative is passing along his skills to middle-school kids.
Parker Thompson, a 17-year-old who has been a fixture at the Charleston Digital Corridor, said the coding camps he instructs during the summer teach "important programming and coding values."
The Digital Corridor recently halted its classes for adults. Parker was a teacher's assistant at those courses, starting at the ripe age of 13.
Thompson has been proficient in programming languages for years. He started learning at 11. Thompson and another high school student now run the classes geared toward adolescents, called CS Upstart.
He graduated Thursday from the Charleston School of the Arts and is heading to Brandeis University in Boston to study economics and political science. Thompson said scholarships he obtained through the Digital Corridor, which was created by the city and is now a private nonprofit, meant he never had to pay for a class himself. He and his partner in running the camps, an 18-year-old Chicago-area student, have been working on outreach to minority communities to enroll as many of those students as possible.
"I come from a minority background," Thompson said. "It became very apparent to me that what I had wouldn't be afforded to other students in my position."
The camps are held at the Digital Corridor's Meeting Street office. Three sessions are being offered this summer, priced between $249 and $269. The first class starts July 8. A web development camp teaches core concepts and the principals of web design, Thompson said. The other, in robotics, borrows the Montessori model and encourages hands-on learning and allows kids to build their own models.
Kids in need of scholarships can contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 843-579-7659. Money for the scholarships was raised through the Digital Corridor's annual iFiveK race, which many local technology firms participate in.
It is not the only coding camp for kids in Charleston or South Carolina. Charleston Women in Tech runs another, called CodeON, also geared toward minority students. The classes are free.
Atlatl, a Charleston-based software company that makes visual tools for manufacturing companies, hired a chief growth officer whose resume includes stints at tech darlings Zillow and Tumblr. Justin Scott spent six years at Zillow as co-head of sales, according to his LinkedIn page. He was then a vice president at Tumblr for two years.
Atlatl CEO Marc Murphy said the upper King Street-based firm made the hire as it aims to grow.
"Seeing how Ataltl leverages the power of visual configuration to provide unmatched buying experiences is what drew me to the company," Scott said in a written statement.
The Charleston Defense Contractors Association, an industry group for companies that work with the military, began its internship program last week. The roughly dozen internships run during the summer months, and feature host companies including Scientific Research Corp. and Mercom Inc. The contractors association hands out a $2,000 stipend to each company that takes students.
With labor shortages growing, the internship is designed to prepare more people for a career in the defense industry.
Nearly 100 students have taken paid internships through the program over the last 14 years. One of the association's board members was once an intern himself.
"I had no idea what the defense industry was all about," said Jimi Elderman, who now works for Virginia-based Spry Methods. "This program opened my eyes to the possibilities while exposing me to my future."