How tech can help you recycle

Jessica Halley was unsure of herself upon entering Enspiral Dev Academy’s 18 week web development bootcamp. “As a kid I was always terrible at math, so I guess I assumed computer programming wasn’t the path for me,” she notes.

But by the end of the programme, her team had developed an app to help improve the way we recycle.

“It was a big challenge. Because I’m so terrified of math I came into the course with a belief that I was probably going to be rubbish at this. But I surprised myself in the end, and we managed to come away with a product that we’re all really proud of. The tutors were really supportive and I also feel really lucky to have been working with such an awesome cohort,” says Jess.

“I didn’t expect to have such emotional reactions to computer code. When you manage to solve a problem and get the code working, you feel like a superhero. I also didn’t expect I would come away from the experience with such a great group of friends.”

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Team Hoppers: Sarah Dueweke, Natalie Perret and Jessica Halley. Photo by Bob Zuur.

Sarah Dueweke pitched the recycling idea for their team’s final project. Sarah says, “Dev Academy helped boost my confidence a lot. Just knowing all that I could accomplish in such a short time surprised me, and made me really proud.”

“I thought it would be cool to work on a project that could teach people about the importance of recycling and sustainability, in the hopes that it might inspire people to care more about it. I was motivated by the beautiful set of Method Recycling bins in the Dev Academy kitchen, which were often abused by people not recycling things properly! We began talking to the Wellington City Council in the early days of building the app, in the hopes that we could continue working on it with the council after we graduated. And in fact, we are still working on it now.”

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Method Recycling bins

The concept behind RECYCLEHack is a web application that lets you input the product you would like to throw out, and then tells you which bin to put it in, or where you can take that item to be recycled. It’s a handy way to find out what to do with electronics and garden supplies, for example. The work-in-progress is here.

Jess, Sarah and Natalie Perret were Dev Academy’s first all-female final project team, and joined Dev Academy with an intake that was mostly women. Natalie notes, “Our team took inspiration from Grace Hopper, a pioneering computer programmer, hence our team name: Team Hoppers. We believe in the importance of highlighting women’s achievements in coding in order to inspire more young girls into the field.”

Natalie discussed the experience of being female in tech. “This isn’t my first time working in a predominantly male workforce. However, I’ve been really impressed with the efforts by the tech sector to promote equality and diversity and was really heartened to be in a cohort of which two thirds were women.“

Jess notes that, “Reflecting on my own experiences growing up I’ve realised I had this unconscious belief that computer code wasn’t something I could do, and I think gender had a big part to play in that. So it’s all the more important to be learning this stuff in an environment that promotes diversity, and that’s what Dev Academy does. I’ve also been really encouraged by the male developers that I’ve met, both in my cohort and working in the industry, that have discussed the importance of diversity in tech.”

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Grace Hopper, pioneering computer programmer

When asked what they would change about Aotearoa if they could change only one thing, Jess notes, “We definitely need to do better with our recycling! The research for this project was pretty terrifying, we are throwing far too much into landfill.”

The Dev Academy programme is extremely fast paced, full immersion and intensive. Part of the effectiveness of the curriculum is that students build actual projects throughout the entire course, so they leave with a portfolio of practical experience that employers can look at in order to hire them. The members of Team Hopper came from a range of different backgrounds, but worked together to produce a product with their newfound coding knowledge to help solve a local problem at the end of the Dev Academy course.

If you’re wondering whether coding could be for you, don’t be daunted by the idea of needing to know complex mathematics, or by the idea that you’re not what a “typical coder” looks like. The industry needs more people like you and is working hard to support diversity in the sector. In selecting people for the Dev Academy programme, we look for people that have empathy, that love working with other people, that are passionate about technology, and have played around with tutorials such as Codeacdemy, enough to know that coding is something they want to do.

If this sounds like it could be for you, apply today for Dev Academy, and we’ll get in touch to answer any questions you might have. Applying takes only 10 minutes!