Apple CEO Tim Cook visited Austin Friday morning as part of a broader announcement that Austin Community College will be among 30 schools nationwide to offer a new app development program.
The year-long App Development with Swift program teaches students how to build apps using Swift open source programming language. It’s a course available to students with no programming experience.
“They’ll learn to code and design fully-function apps,” Cook told a room packed with business people, startup founders, politicians, educators, Apple employees and college students. “And, more importantly, they’ll gain a set of skills and experience that are so crucial and increasingly valuable in today’s fast-changing and fast-moving economy.”
The move is meaningful in that community colleges are accessible to a wide variety of students at relatively low prices — and many emerging tech hubs, including Austin, don’t have enough qualified talent to fill the growing number of tech jobs available. And app develop is one the fastest-growing industries in the world — Cook said developers have earned $16B from the iOS app economy.
“Coding is the language of the future, a language that should be taught to students all across America at every level and at every age so that they shape the future for themselves,” he said.
Earlier in the day, Cook met briefly with the founders of Aceable, Bumble, Localeur, RetailMeNot, Your Trainer and others who got a few minutes to discuss their apps.
Apple employs about 6,000 people in Austin, and its local campus in North Austin is the company’s largest outside of Cupertino. Cook got a rockstar’s welcome at Capital Factory, with dozens of people vying to chat with Cook for a few seconds or snap a selfie before he was whisked away in a black Audi.
Shambrekia Wise, founder of Austin edtech startup FuzeU, was among those who got a chance to talk with Cook after the big announcement.
She said she told Cook that it can be discouraging to see so many roadblocks and not know where to start. And she told him it’s encouraging to see how Cook has embraced diversity and tech education.
“As a black woman with a science background, I know very little about building an app,” she said. “And, if you look at the numbers, there aren’t many of us in that industry. But when you have leaders like Tim Cook who embraces diversity and encourages people to soar to your dreams… it’s so inspirational.”