A Year in Review: 42 Silicon Valley in 2018

What We Accomplished in 2018

2018 marked the second anniversary of 42 Silicon Valley and the fifth year since 42 Paris was founded. It has been a great year full of piscines, hackathons, cool student projects, new partnerships and programs, innovation tours from around the world, awesome guest speakers and other fun events. We welcomed a new Managing Director at 42, Sophie Viger, and said goodbye to founder Kwame Yamgnane who moved on to the next chapter in his life. We’ll go over some of the highlights from this past year so you can get a taste of what to expect in 2019!

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Academics

Funded by French businessman Xavier Niel, 42 turns the traditional educational model upside down and provides industry-leading college-level education for free with no teachers, classes or books. We also boast an open admissions process that is entirely merit-based. We embody the American dream by offering top quality education and the opportunity for social mobility. Here is an overview of a new academic program that we added, a reflection on the 2018 piscines, and a recap about HackHighSchool: 

Starfleet Academy

We launched our newest program, 42 Starfleet Academy, in early 2018. Starfleet Academy is an intensive, one-year software engineering program. This program is designed for highly motivated students who want a challenge and don’t want to spend more than 12 months in training. One of our Starfleet Academy students, Paulina, shared, “This program is like a continuation of the piscine, so if you want to keep the intensity and the pace of learning – pick Starfleet.”

2018 Piscines

We held 8 piscines at 42 Silicon Valley this year, starting in January and ending in October. Students who participated in this year’s piscines had an opportunity to live through the incredibly rewarding, once-in-a-lifetime experience. They tried and failed, over and over again. However, the good news is that this trial-and-error period was a learning process in and of itself, developing problem-solving skills and creativity. Congratulations to everyone who passed their piscine and joined 42 as a cadet! For more information on how to apply, click here.

HackHighSchool

HackHighSchool is a free computer programming and coding program for high school students. It’s run by Code for fun using curriculum and tools from 42 to teach a variety of topics. 42 students serve as mentors for high school students at our Fremont campus. This year we had an End of Year Showcase and Party for HackHighSchool students who have completed the introductory curriculum to demonstrate what they have learned. The showcase exhibited 22 student projects that were based on various coding subjects that the students learned. There were around 100 to 150 attendees and everyone who came had a right to vote on their favorite project.

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Hackathons

With 1,024 iMacs and a large lab, we’re proud to serve the coding community and to host hackathons throughout the year. 42 hosted 21 hackathons in 2018 and our students participated in many off-campus hackathons. Netflix ran a hackathon with us and their production technology team, and a few of our cadets got to pitch their products to them. A team of seven 42 students won the top prize in their category at the GSK Immuno Hack and the Robotics Lab had team members who were 1 of 20 finalists for the hackaday Human Computer Interface Challenge. Below is some information about a few hackathons that we hosted on campus:

EDF CODEGREEN 

EDF (Électricité de France), the world’s largest producer of electricity, hosted CODEGREEN: a week-long hackathon at 42 Silicon Valley.  Only open to 42 students, the EDF Code Green Hackathon was a great opportunity for students who were interested in the following: how coding can be used to save the environment, projects that focus on bringing clean energy to regions that don’t have access to it, and an opportunity to practice machine learning algorithms with real-world data and practical cases.

AngelHack Silicon Valley 

42 Silicon Valley teamed up with AngelHack to host our first AngelHack Hackathon. AngelHack bridges the gap between Silicon Valley innovation and entrepreneurs all over the world and in 2018 they chose 42 as the site for their flagship event. According to AngelHack, this year’s theme involved the following,  “the challenge was for participants to make something innovative without limits, something that brings positive change to the world, or even something that solves a small problem.” Over 200 participants turned up and we’re proud to say that two 42 student teams took home 2nd and 3rd place!

ActInSpace 

ActInSpace is the only hackathon contest in the world that offers the chance to work on CNES (the French Government Space Agency) and ESA (the European Space Agency) patents. 42 Silicon Valley hosted the hackathon for ActInSpace participants from the San Francisco Bay Area. This gave students an opportunity to work at the 42 Silicon Valley campus and experience a unique culture that promotes creating, building and changing technology to impact the world around you. The 42 Robotics Team sent a member to represent the United States in the worldwide competition!

Call for Code 

The City of Fremont, 42 Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley Insider, and Tulip Conference teamed up with IBM and hosted a hackathon at 42 Silicon Valley. 42 is proud to announce that this was the only Call for Code Challenge satellite event in North America. This one-day hackathon focused on projects that will create solutions that will improve preparedness during natural disasters and relief during wildfires. Lali Wildfire Detection, the team that won the 42 Silicon Valley Hackathon,  was a top 3 finalist in the Global Prize Celebration in San Francisco!

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Student Projects

At 42, Project-Based Learning is basically a hands-on way to explore your passions, develop skills, and change the world. 42 is one of the few college-level schools that invests heavily in project-based learning. Here are some examples of impactful projects that have evolved from 42 Silicon Valley in 2018:

Bad Honey Bun Games

With no background in VR, a team of students at 42 released a successful VR game on the Oculus store and achieved over a 1,000 downloads in the first 2 weeks. Conversion: Artificial Dawn is a rails-based movement arcade-style shooter game created by Danny Saetern and Sean Darsie, co-founders of Bad Honey Bun GamesThis is the first ever VR game to be created at 42 and so far has been played and loved by visitors to the school including Michelin executives, Ford Innovation Lab team members, the CEO and a program manager from Occipital, visitors from ESCP Europe, and Doug Kryzan founder and CEO of Rocket Worldwide.

Cardioid

A group of students at 42 Silicon Valley are working on making music collaboration more accessible by developing collaborative software for independent musicians and record labels around the world. With Cardioid, an emerging music startup that started as a student project at 42, a musician no longer has to write down their ideas on a napkin or upload all their files on a usb before handing it over to another artist. Cardioid will make it possible for musicians to share and add to work entirely online. 

Kafali Pay

A former refugee from Ethiopia, an urban planner from Manhattan, and a former computational math major from the Bronx are all part of a team of students at 42 who created Kafali Pay. Kafali Pay is a mobile application that helps people compare money transfer options so they can send money to relatives who might not have access to a bank account. Basically, Kafali Pay is the “kayak” of remittance payments, where you can compare money transfer options so friends and family sending cash can make the best decision.

Wilderness Patrol

The Wilderness Patrol app was developed to address the needs of the California State Park system and the 1,300 Wilderness Patrol volunteers at Rancho del Oso. It gives Wilderness Patrol volunteers a tool that makes it easy to accurately report any issues they encounter. By having a more efficient and streamlined reporting system, the California Parks Department can recognize problems, make any necessary repairs and thus improve the beauty of the parks while also reducing expenses. 

Mycotronics

The 42 Robotics Lab teamed up with Stanford Bioengineering to create a robotics system based on mushroom-related research. Believe it or not, but mushrooms can be more than just food, so they developed an easy-to-use, cost-effective production system that Makers will love. Basically, Mycotronics is an open-source modular smart habitat for automating bioproduction in your own home. Mycotronics short-term goal is a low-cost intelligent bioproduction system for synthetic biology research and consumers needs. Their long-term goal is building on hardware/software/database to develop intelligent bioproduction systems for terraforming and space applications. This project won an Editor’s Choice Award at the 2018 Maker Faire!

Cerebro Voice

Cerebro Voice is a silent speech communications device that was developed by a team at 42 that works within the Robotics Lab. The device collects electrical signals directly from the vocal cords and other muscles involved in voice articulation to produce silent speech recognition via machine learning. Silent speech recognition is also known as subvocalization recognition, which is the ability to recognize words without the person needing to say the words out loud.  Imagine if we could have these conversations privately in silence like with Siri. Silent speech technology can also be used for people who need it most, such as people who have lost their ability to speak due to medical reasons.

For more information about student projects at 42 Silicon Valley, click here.

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Corporate, Community & Educational Partnerships and Recognitions

This year we teamed up with Filemaker, an Apple subsidiary, to create a unique internship program. We also partnered with GitHub Education and created a data science camp with 49ers EDU. 42 Silicon Valley also received formal recognition, from Moonshots and the California Black Caucus, for our efforts to make education more accessible. Read more below:

Filemaker

In 2018 we teamed up with Filemaker, an Apple subsidiary, to make the first accessible program for software engineering that provides monthly living stipends for students and serve as a pathway into the workforce as a Filemaker developer! FileMaker has teamed up with 42 to tackle education access, student debt, and the skills gap while also building and growing developer talent. You can learn more about the program here.

GitHub Education

42 Silicon Valley was named one of the first six GitHub Education schools in the world alongside Gallaudet, Santa Barbara City College, St. Louis CC, Ubiqum Code Academy and the University of New Hampshire. We’re a coding school built for the real world so we love GitHub and our students use it for a lot of their projects. It’s also where employers look for portfolios when they’re hiring. Visit GitHub Education’s website to learn more.

Moonshots Certification

42 became a certified Moonshots in Education school, with a plaque presented by creator Esther Wojcicki. To qualify for Moonshots Certification, 42 Silicon Valley had to meet the qualities as outlined in the acronym TRICK (Trust, Respect, Independence, Collaboration and Kindness).  We believe these qualities are at the core of what makes the 42 community such a great place to learn and is important to our peer-learning and project-based pedagogy.

49ers EDU Camp

49ers EDU and 42 Silicon Valley created an innovative sports coding camp with a focus on football and data science. Students, ages 9 to 19,  programmed in Python using football statistics. 42 Silicon Valley students volunteered as mentors. The camp was hosted at 42’s campus and it ended with a field trip to the 49ers museum and Levi’s Stadium to engage with 49ers staff and the 49ers EDU STEAM curriculum.

Certificate of Recognition from the California Legislative Black Caucus  

A Certificate of Recognition was presented to 42 Silicon Valley by the California Legislative Black Caucus in appreciation of 42’s contribution to the success of the African American Leaders of Tomorrow Program (AALT) Conference. 42 is extremely lucky to have such dedicated staff and students who believe in expanding educational access and creating a model of education that promotes equity and inclusion.

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Events Hosted at 42

42 hosted several events on campus this year, some open to the public while others are exclusively private. As part of the tech community in Silicon Valley, we love opening our doors to those who are just as excited about tech as we are. These events are a great way for our students to get involved in the local tech world and for you to spend time with the 42 community at our campus facility. Although we can’t give a shout out to every wonderful person who came to visit us, here are a few events that we want to share:

Alumni Dev Panel

42 Silicon Valley hosted our second annual Alumni Dev Panel which was a big hit! There were 12 alumni from companies such as Paypal, Microsoft, and Netflix, with various positions where they can flex all of the amazing coding and soft skills that they learned while at 42. The event had a relaxed feel to it, and alumni were great about sharing their story about their own journey from 42 to employment with cadets who were in attendance.

For more information about our alumni, please read our alumni profiles.  

Africa in Tech

Students at 42 Silicon Valley launched Africa in Tech with the goal to promote Africans who have been successful in tech as well as provide networking and mentorship opportunities.  Africa in Tech is an open source platform where you can build and contribute to projects that address tech problems in Africa via hackathons. Africa in Tech also hopes to connect American companies that build solutions for Africa with African companies interested in the tech market in the United States. At 42, we are fortunate to have a diverse community of students who are passionate about creating awareness about these important issues in tech.

Women in Tech Week and Tesla Panel

From a former fighter pilot to a panel of women in the auto industry, to a creative technologist combining science and engineering with art and design, we had an inspirational Women in Tech Week at 42.  We hosted guest speakers throughout the week who shared their insights into what it is like to be a woman in tech. We also hosted a Tesla Panel with software engineers and a senior staff product manager. The diverse group of women shared their backgrounds in technology and how they got the positions they have at Tesla. It was an inspirational event and our students had an interactive Q&A afterward.

Peer 150 Event

42 hosted a big event this year that focused on the future of education. The 250 guests included CEOs, HR professionals and leaders in education who participated in a presentation with some major keynote speakers. It was an inspiring afternoon that connected the way we educate students with the skills that innovative companies are looking for in future employees. The Peer 150 is an exclusive, invitation-only, networking group for the top executives in designated professions. 42 ambassadors gave The Peer 150 members a tour of campus and shared with them more information about our school. For more information, read our article about the event.

Hour of Code

42 hosted an Hour of Code event in December. Hour of Code is a global initiative that takes place during Computer Science Education Week. Hour of Code has over 400 partners and 200,000 educators who participate in over 180 countries. The event is designed to be an introduction to computer science, with the goal to make programming more accessible. 42 Silicon Valley’s Hour of Code event challenged students to code a trivia game in only 60 minutes!

Red Bull Escape Room

The 42 Silicon Valley community was beyond excited to have a Red Bull Escape Room in the middle of our lab this year. Qualifiers for the championship took place in over 20 countries around the world. 42 Silicon Valley was selected to be a qualifying venue for the Red Bull Escape Room, one of only two locations for the qualifiers in the entire United States. Not only did Red Bull set up an awesome inflatable escape room but our student competitors were motivated by a chance to score some free Red Bull. 42 students are always ready for a fun challenge and working in a team, and that is exactly what the Red Bull Escape Room delivers.

The 42 Community in 2018

It really does take a village to make 42 such a wonderful place! From our founders to our staff and student volunteers, we couldn’t have accomplished everything we did this year without working as a team. We can’t wait to see who will join the 42 community in 2019 and what great things we will all accomplish together! Have a Happy New Year!

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published by Stacey Faucett – December 21, 2018