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Finding common ground

Finding common ground

By Glenda McCarthy

Josh Taylor, from Grand Falls Windsor, wears many hats. He is an entrepreneur, a consultant, a program developer and a teacher. But in his position with College of the North Atlantic at Prince Philip Drive campus, Josh is pulling on experience from all these roles to help students get the most out of their time at CNA.

Josh has only been with the college since January 2014 but he splits his time between program development and instructing the Programmer Analyst (Business) Co-op program.

The revised program, of which Josh assisted in the development, has a very diverse curriculum. A course on immerging trends keeps students on the cutting edge of the programming field. The Mobile Programming using Android course is an exciting one for students, as many already use Android platforms on their smartphones or tablets. An elective course, taken in semester eight of the program, allows students to put the skills they learned in the three-year program to good use.

CNA’s Programmer Analyst (Business) Co-Op has a strong Java background. When Josh recognized that students were ready for an Android application development course structured around building and delivering apps, he brought it into the classroom.

“Android has its own operating system and is built on its development environment, but it is written using Java language. If you are Java programmer, which our students are, you can adapt to it very quickly.”

Josh says the apps developed by the students are very good and of the eight students in the class this year, two already have apps on the Google Play store.

“Education naturally always has a slight lag behind industry, and that’s fine,” Josh says. “You need that because you wouldn’t be able to update programs every year or there would be chaos. Right now there are two major trends that are dominating everything – web development and mobile development.”

The college’s Programmer Analyst (Business) Co-op program has traditionally been structured towards Widows application development, but there was a recognized need to introduce a component that is flexible in industry – Android. The next step will be rolling out a course focusing on Apple iOS, which Josh hopes to have in place by the winter semester of 2016.

“We rolled out Android first because it’s open and Java-driven so it fit with current program now. Apple is built on different programing language. In the future the goal is to have a dynamic web component in the program and Android application development and then the iOS ecosystem development course for all Apple devices.”

By expanding their offerings, Josh says CNA will continue to be ahead of the game.

“We’re ahead of the trend when it comes to Android. We have had people out in industry for a year-and-a-half with Android programming experience. That might not sound like that long but Android is a system that only caught on in 2010, so it’s only five years old. For schools to have graduates that have specialized in it out a year-and-a-half, that is pretty special. I think we’re ahead of the curve.”

Josh is a big fan of entrepreneurship. When he’s not working at CNA, you can find him at Common Ground, St. John’s first co-working space and start-up house. He was an early investor in the company and says there was a need for a non-profit, shared co-working space where people could get together and share ideas.

“It’s kind of an office away from home for entrepreneurs, artists, and people in technology and technology-related fields. They can come together and share ideas and build companies,” Josh says.

“Where it comes in with the college is I take my students there every single term and I encourage them to become involved in the community. I’ve had some success with that, but a lot of them graduate and work for government or work for a private company and I wouldn’t call that a failure.”

As an instructor, Josh loves to see his students gainfully employed and happy in their careers.

“I try to expose them to a non-traditional route, which is entrepreneurship. I’ve always been supported by the college in taking students to Common Ground to show them around, and get the look and feel a start-up. We’ve got a few people that have really gotten interested in it and I’ve seen them back there multiple times. It fits together because I’m encouraging my students in entrepreneurship and trying to help them build their network in the city. A lot of large companies are mining (Common Ground) for talent so it’s a good place for our students to be.”

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