Cape Town hosts boffin boot camp

27 June 2016 - 13:36 By Farren Collins


Once a year, for two months, the cream of the crop from some of the most prestigious universities around the world descend on Cape Town. But they are not just here to party it up in Camps Bay with the rich and famous; they are here to take part in a two-month intensive "boot camp", which brings international industry experts to Cape Town to teach these Ivy League undergraduates.iXperience was founded by 29-year-old Aaron Fuchs two-and-a-half years ago.The South African mechanical engineer studied at Yale and ended up as a hedge fund manager on Wall Street. He wanted to "reimagine education" by teaching courses "relevant to the career space" but not taught well at colleges, with a focus on technology and consulting.The idea is to accelerate their careers by giving them one month of an intensive camp - classes in their respective fields - followed by a month on-the-job training."It seems strange, but it is actually true, iPhone app development is not actually taught in universities in the US , and there are not many places that teach it. The other big attraction of iXperience is that they [students] get to spend two months travelling abroad , and that i s very appealing to a lot of students. So it i s the combination of learning this incredibly valuable skill and also travelling ."The current cohort consists of 110 students from institutions such as Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Oxford University.Gabriel Martinez, a computer science and architecture student from California, said it was difficult to study these fields in a "formal" setting, and that it was difficult to study abroad in a technical field. These were the reasons he signed up for iXperience.The iXperience learning experience was different in that it was " very much hands on" ."I ha ve accomplished a lot in a short space of time," Martinez said.Lecturers are all industry specialists in their fields.Yash Singh , a management consultant from consultancy firm Accenture, took two months off to teach, "to show students what it is actually like in the industry".He said the approach is to start with the application of the knowledge, instead of learning the theory first.Fuchs aims to turn iXperience into a fully fledged university. iXperience contributes $25-million (about R325-million) to the Cape Town economy, and five local students are sponsored to take the course, which costs $8500.

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