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42 Abu Dhabi: A tuition-free coding school

42 Abu Dhabi: A tuition-free coding school
29 Jan 2024 09:07

MAYS IBRAHIM (ABU DHABI)

42 Abu Dhabi, a tuition-free coding school, is preparing curious minds from the UAE and around the world to thrive in a rapidly evolving digital landscape through implementing a disruptive projects-based peer-to-peer learning model, with no classes and no teachers.

In a recent interview with Aletihad, Marcos Muller-Habig, Acting CEO of 42 Abu Dhabi, provided an overview of the school’s innovative approach to coding education.

He noted that students who join 42 Abu Dhabi are required to complete a baseline “core programme”, including a set of projects that fall under one common theme, after which each student can tailor their learning experience by choosing projects that help them acquire the skills they find best align with their goals and interests.

“It’s a skills-based approach to what normally people would consider an intelligence or a research-based endeavour,” Muller-Habig said, adding that 54% of 42 Abu Dhabi’s students have “never” coded before joining it. Yet they all share certain consistent qualities, which include “self-discipline, commitment, and perseverance”.

Peer-to-Peer Evaluations

Muller-Habig further explained that once a student submits their first project, a computer system assigns them a peer to evaluate their work, and each project is validated and assessed by multiple peers, which means that students must be able to receive feedback and give feedback as well as explain their code and the thought process behind it. 
“I love the saying, ‘if you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together’, and from day one at 42 Abu Dhabi, you must learn to go together,” he said.

“The evaluation process allows all students to wear the hat of the learner and the teacher; the person you evaluate may be more advanced than you and give you tips. This person may be below your level, and you are helping them.”
Muller-Habig added that this process also helps students acquire soft skills that are essential in any work environment, including communication and conflict resolution.

Who Can Join 42 Abu Dhabi?

No previous coding experience or academic qualifications are required to apply for 42 Abu Dhabi, but all candidates must be aged 18 years and above. The application process involves online games testing logical thinking skills, an introductory check-in, and an intensive four-week bootcamp called “Piscine”, which is held four times per year, according to Muller-Habig.

The upcoming Piscine is set to begin on February 5, while the remaining three are scheduled in May, July, and August, he said, noting that the passing average is between 40 to 70 people per each Piscine.‘Radical Inclusivity’
Muller-Habig pointed out that a total of 760 students have joined 42 Abu Dhabi since its official launch in 2021. The school is entering its third year of operations with 468 students from 56 countries currently enrolled, of whom 35% are women.

“Our ethos is radical inclusivity… the goal is to make education accessible, not only in terms of background, skills, or intelligence, but also accessible for those who may not be able to afford it,” he said.

Aside from supplying the workforce of the future with essential tech skills, 42 Abu Dhabi offers today’s workers the possibility of a career shift without the burden of financial commitment, Muller-Habig noted.

He added that 42 Abu Dhabi is open to its students 24/7, allowing them to schedule their work and complete their projects at their own pace in order to nurture creativity in coding and to facilitate the learning experience for students who may also be attending university or working full-time.

A six-month internship is a requirement for all students to complete the programme. The school facilitates this through working with its industry partners to help students based on their interests and skills-background, according to Muller-Habig.

Navigating the Fast-Paced Tech Landscape

The Acting CEO further stressed that 42 Abu Dhabi ensures that its learning programme keeps up with the rapidly evolving tech landscape through organising hackathons that help supplement students with in-demand tech-skills. 
These are tailored based on input from industry partners or in line with current events, such as the UAE’s Year of Sustainability and the Abu Dhabi Finance Week, among others.

This helps raise awareness about what code can do for any industry, instills the practice of lifelong learning, and allows students to bypass the unpredictability of technological progression, ensuring that their tech skills are up to date. “We always want our students to have the finger on the pulse of the industry,” Muller-Habig said.
He added that the work of 42 Abu Dhabi contributes to supplying the workforce in the UAE with the needed talent to boost its tech startup ecosystem, ultimately accelerating the realisation of its vision for a tech enabled future.

Incorporating Sustainable Practices

42 Abu Dhabi takes great pride in its commitment to incorporating sustainable practices into its learning model to create a generation of skilled coders who will develop innovative solutions that address pressing environmental challenges, Muller-Habig said.

This includes operating power efficient machines, in addition to teaching students green coding languages, ways to minimise the impact that their code may have onto hardware, and how to use their acquired skills to create a more sustainable world, he added.

Students at 42 Abu Dhabi have taken up an extracurricular group project to build a robot that is capable of recognising and remembering faces through recycling plastic water bottles into 3D printer filament used to produce its parts, according to Muller-Habig.

42 Abu Dhabi was established in partnership with Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (ADEK) under the Ghadan 21 accelerator programme. It’s the first GCC campus of the international 42 Network of coding schools, which opened its inaugural campus in Paris in 2013.

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