By: Hailey Temple

As the technology of the Information Age becomes more prevalent across all industries, some of the more technical aspects of projects can seem impossible to understand. However, Elizabeth Ruscitto sees this pivotal time in technology and business as an opportunity to help entrepreneurs understand coding by introducing Codecademy lessons to students in the RVD IDEA Sandbox.

Ruscitto, a recent graduate of the School of Information Studies master’s program in Information Management and Associate Entrepreneur in Residence at the Sandbox, understands the importance for business leaders to understand coding. “By having the ability to ‘speak’ geek,’ entrepreneurs will have a greater understanding of what type of technical programmer they need, how to communicate with that programmer, the amount of work it takes to deliver a project, and how to get projects completed in a reasonable time frame by being more informed,” she explained.

Codecademy is an organization that uses an open-source platform and programming tools that allow anyone to learn to write code for different purposes, or to contribute their lessons for learning, such as building applications and website design. Through an informal twelve-week Learn to Code course, Sandbox participants will be able to take Codecademy courses and learn up to five programming languages, including HTML, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery and Python. Students can take courses using Codecademy to accommodate their flexible schedules and will meet to exchange ideas and review difficult concepts with faculty members and developers from the devBox, the Sandbox’s technical team.

“Web is now in everything we do, and this new idea of digital literacy is essential in the business world for those interested in working with startups and technical projects,” says John Liddy, Sandbox Director. “With a coding background, entrepreneurs will be able to manage projects, create a framework and use their resources well.”

In order to help more women in the technology field make connections, Ruscitto will also be introducing @WomenWhoCode, which provides networking opportunities and meetings for women in the industry. WomenWhoCode allows women of all technological backgrounds and coding language experience to exchange ideas, co-work, and hack on new ideas in a setting that facilitates networking.

“WomenWhoCode allows women in technology, or those simply interested in tech to come together discuss projects, favorite tools and grow their networks,” said Ruscitto. She hopes to establish a meetup at the Student Sandbox this year for any women interested.

The RVD IDEA Student Sandbox was established in 2009 as a unique business incubator to provide student entrepreneurs the resources to make their visions a reality. Liddy noted that last year, there were 39 groups applying for Sandbox funding, and this year, the number has grown to 129 applicants.

Six higher education institutions take part in the Sandbox. They are: Syracuse University, the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Onondaga Community College, Le Moyne College, Morrisville State College and Cayuga Community College. The institutions are partnered with the Kauffman Foundation-funded Enitiative to provide contacts and resources to broaden the reach of entrepreneurial education and innovation in the Central New York region.