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Cabarrus Magazine

Cracking the Code

Jun 01, 2018 08:30AM ● By Jason Huddle

Cracking the Code


Vast numbers of kids are mesmerized by computer video games and the Internet. Now there are ways to turn that fascination into education.

Computer coding can be defined as the “language” used to develop software, mobile applications and websites. It basically tells the computer what to do. Our computer operating systems, Internet browsers, smartphones and social media sites all run on code.

What began as binary code – infinite patterns of zeros and ones that represent transistors – has given way to programming languages (see sidebar).

Code Conquest says, “Thousands of different programming languages let us write code that is (relatively) easy for us to write, read and understand. Each language comes with a special program that takes care of translating what we write into binary code. Different languages are designed to be used for different purposes – Web development, desktop software, solving scientific and numeric problems, and so on.”

What makes coding so relevant today directly corresponds to how much computers are ingrained in our lives. “At this moment, we can already witness how technology is shaping the world,” the Edvocate says. “More and more jobs require at least some basic computer literacy. Even if you are working in the fast food and retail industries, it is expected that you know how to use a computer. As time goes on, requests for coding skills will grow, and it is reasonable to expect that one day not knowing it may sound as bad as not knowing how to read sounds now.”

So what are being created today are ways – and places – for children to be introduced to computer coding. And offering them the opportunity at a young age affords them many years of fine-tuning their skill and where they want to eventually take it.


Code Ninjas

David Graham founded Code Ninjas in 2016. A software developer and entrepreneur for two decades, he watched adults that took part in his coding camps go on to successful jobs. Realizing the incessant demand, Graham turned to the coders of tomorrow – kids.

According to Code Ninjas’ website, “The STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) field is growing day by day, with an estimated 9 million new jobs being created between 2012 and 2022. However, the United States is still falling behind other countries in the movement, creating demand for more STEM education across the country.”

Graham started offering Code Ninjas franchise agreements and sold more than 70 in his first nine months. One of those franchises was bought by Vivek Dighe and his wife Anjali.

 Living in Washington, DC, both already had successful careers. 

“Prior to Code Ninjas, I specialized in operational management, working within a variety of industries within the nonprofit, government and commercial markets,” Anjali says. “In addition, I volunteered my time extensively with community organizations such as Women in Homeland Security, Friends of the Fairfax Commission for Women, and Communities in Schools of Northern Virginia.

“Vivek specialized in technical product management and business development in the telecommunications industry, working within commercial, government, defense and international markets. He launched numerous software products managing satellite, optical, mobile and tactical communications solutions for small businesses to government agencies.”

The Dighes, wanting to scale back on the hectic pace of their lives and take a new business path, moved to Charlotte. “Seeking opportunities for our son, we realized through research and speaking with other families that the opportunities for a techie kid and family were very limited,” Anjali explains.

“We researched our options for starting a program in the Charlotte market and started conversing with the Code Ninjas franchisors. After more research about the dire needs of coding and programming within a variety of industries in the future, we decided that Code Ninjas offered the best opportunity for us to give back to our Charlotte community and market.”

Code Ninjas’ blueprint revolves around seven- to 14-year-olds building video games – and learning computer coding in the process. Code Ninjas provides a brick-and-mortar center for ninjas (students) to come in after school, during parents-night-out and for camps. They are given access to teaching staffers, there to provide help as needed. Ninjas earn “belts,” building levels of achievement as they learn.

“Similar to the martial arts, our program is based on a belt system – starting with the White Belt book going all the way up to the Black Belt book. Each book is filled with project-based curriculum – teaching students how to code through developing games and robotics using the programming language JavaScript,” Anjali says.

“So, instead of a young mind hanging out at home playing video games, with our program they come into our ‘Dojo’ two days a week for one hour each day to build their own video games and use their own creativity to enhance those games to become more their own, all the while learning JavaScript under the guidance of our Senseis – high school students with passion around STEM education.”

By the time students have earned their Red Belt – one step away from the Black Belt – they have developed their own game or app. “The Black Belt is pretty cool because we look at the business of gaming, gaming marketing and distributing apps through an app store,” Anjali adds. “Working in a team environment, our students learn how to take their developed games to the market through competitive analysis, research and development, testing and quality assurance, and then an understanding of the economics behind placing an app in an app store.”

A student that “graduates” from the Code Ninjas program can return at age 16 to become a Sensei in Training. “With the right attitude, the right personality and the right passion, that student can now be hired to work for Code Ninjas Charlotte, continue their education with us and sometimes be recognized through their schools for internship credit, as many of our Senseis currently do,” Anjali shares.


Futures are Bright

BurningGlass Technologies is an analytics company that studies the labor market. “Lots of students who don’t think of themselves as future programmers may ask, ‘Why do I have to learn coding? What is coding for?’ As our world continues to digitize – and it is, rapidly – having the skills to work with computer code is becoming more important and, thus, more valuable in the job market,” the firm says.

“Our research shows the demand for coding skills is spreading throughout jobs far beyond IT (Information Technology). In fact, nearly half of all jobs in the top income quartile now request coding skills. The data contained in our report are drawn from 26 million U.S. online job postings collected in 2015 and have been analyzed to determine the specific jobs and skills that employers are seeking.”

BurningGlass partnered with Oracle Academy to prepare the report that shows coding skills are transforming the job market in a number of ways:

• “They’re more in demand: Seven million job openings in 2015 were in occupations that value coding skills. In general, programming jobs are growing 50 percent faster than the market overall.

• Coding is particularly valuable to candidates across five major job categories: Data Analysis, Engineering and Manufacturing, Design, Marketing, and Programming and Information Technology (IT).

• Coding provides a salary premium: Jobs requiring coding skills pay $22,000 per year more (on average).”

Additionally, according to Fast Company, “Half of all programming openings are in industries outside of technology. Among them: Finance, Manufacturing and Health Care.”

Anjali says, “Our kids need to know how to code. Regardless of who they become or what they want to be, understanding the basics of coding will be a part of their lives. From NASCAR to NASA, from the automation of package delivery to fabrication machines, code is and will remain to be a part of our lives.”

Code Ninjas camps start this month and include Gamebuilders’ Club, Beginning JavaScript, Minecraft Create, Code Drones and Roblox Create.

For more information or to schedule a tour – at 8905 Christenbury Parkway in Concord – visit

Article By: Kim Cassell

Photos Courtesy: Michael A. Anderson Photography and Anjali and Vivek Dighe

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