ACC to offer classes in Apple’s programming language starting this fall

ACC students in game design classes say they plan to take advantage of new courses in Apple's Swift programming language this fall. (KXAN Photo/ Alyssa Goard).
ACC students in game design classes say they plan to take advantage of new courses in Apple's Swift programming language this fall. (KXAN Photo/ Alyssa Goard).

AUSTIN (KXAN) —  As part of an effort to expand opportunities in the tech sector, Austin Community College will offer students classes in Apple’s programming language Swift starting this fall.

Gary Graber, the department chair in game design, animation and motion graphics at ACC, said that they’ve already seen a great deal of interest in the classes.

“You spend a year and you could potentially go out and get a beginning level job,” he explained of the Swift programming courses.

Several weeks ago in Austin, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced this partnership alongside ACC leadership, Austin Mayor Steve Adler and State Senator Kirk Watson. The program brings the tech giant’s App Development with Swift program to community college students, helping those even with no programming experience to create apps on Apple platforms.

While the program will be offered at more than 30 community colleges across the country, Austin and Austin Community College had particular appeal to Apple because of the city’s growing tech sector and ACC’s large student body.

“We were sent over to Apple, we got a whole briefing on Swift and a couple of days later we had an announcement with Tim Cook, so it was pretty amazing,” said Graber. He is now preparing to teach students the new language through an interactive Swift Playground program.

While Graber’s students are more interested in developing games specifically, many of them will be looking for jobs in the growing app market.

This gives even more resources to ACC professors who had already begun teaching app development. Graber explained that Swift is appealing because it is simpler than some of the other programming platforms.

Delaney Bannon was on a team of ACC students who created the first ACC-developed app to be available in the Apple App store. Their creation: a game called “Spell Panic” was available to download to iPads starting this August.

He plans to take Swift courses at ACC and thinks learning the new language will make him more marketable as he applies for jobs.

“Being able to have something in your hands that we can show to people, like that makes all the difference in the world,” he said. “We were people who had never made games before and we made a game at the end of the project and it went to the app store.”

Bannon came to ACC from Wisconsin specifically for their game design program. He explained that he would like to work on action or role-playing games, but he needs a solid foundation in different types of coding to have a shot at those jobs.

“If all you’ve done is see movies and you’ve never seen like a set, you might think it’s actually magic,” Bannon said. “What this does is it actually lifts that veil and it shows you these are all the machines working behind the scenes and how to use them.”

The Swift courses will be available to ACC students at no additional cost.

“It’s invaluable, having an education and having someone who can assist you on hand at any given time, and answer questions, it’s going to take down so many walls that would usually make learning to code a huge mountain to climb,” Bannon said.

Apple noted that this partnership with ACC is part of their effort to expand access to jobs in the tech sector through working with community college graduates. Apple added that there are more than 7,000 current openings in the Austin tech field.

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