A Silicon Valley software engineering school is opening a campus at District New Haven, the newly redeveloped technology and innovation complex in the city's Fair Haven neighborhood.

The San Francisco-based Holberton School of Software Engineering expects to begin classes at its East Coast campus in January.

Holberton School District New Haven
San Francisco-based Holberton School of Software Engineering is opening an East Coast campus at the District New Haven technology and innovation complex.

"We chose Holberton because they're truly innovating in the education space," said District New Haven founder and CEO David Salinas.

"They're doing things differently. They're tearing down the barriers to education."

Salinas said the presence of a software engineering school in New Haven will be a significant boost to the state and region.

"We're facing a major issue not just here in the state of Connecticut, but nationally," he said.

"It's a lack of technology talent and computing skills—for jobs like software developer, full stack developer, and computer systems analyst, just to name a few."

Skills Shortage

He said that statistics from the state Department of Labor show Connecticut companies have roughly 300 openings annually for systems analysts and another 300 for software developers.

Holberton will help fill that void, he said.

The school's curriculum covers coding, software design, and other digital skills sought by Connecticut industries, including defense, aerospace, insurance, bioscience, and medical device manufacturers.

Lack of technology talent and computing skills is a major issue here in Connecticut and nationally.
— District New Haven's David Salinas
Holberton co-founder and CEO Julien Barbier said the school plans a modest initial enrollment—30 to 50 students—with the goal of expanding to 1,000 within three or four years.

"Our education is focusing on three things: Learning how to learn, critical thinking, and problem solving, and teamwork," Barbier said.

"We have no formal classes, nor formal teachers—the school is open 24/7, and instead of competing against each other, students are helping each other, asking questions of each other."

Public-Private Partnership

Holberton does not charge tuition for its two-year courses until graduates find jobs. They then pay 17% of their salary for three-and-a-half years.

"Holberton is a very different kind of education and it works," Barbier said. "Every single graduate from Holberton has found a job and most of them found a job before the end of the two years."

Salinas said a recent state government survey showed 91% of businesses are challenged in finding and hiring technology talent.

"So challenging that they needed to go outside of the state to find the most qualified talent," he said.

"We believe that by identifying, engaging and training world-class software engineers regionally we're providing the tools and innovation necessary to ensure the best talent stays in the local business ecosystem."

The New Haven campus will receive $1 million in state aid over the next two years and also has a number of private partners, including Cognizant, Comcast Business, Digital Surgeons, iDevices, and Sikorksy Aircraft.