CHARLOTTE, NC — When it comes to technology, to say change is constant would be an understatement. Change is ever-present. With what seems to be a mass migration to the cloud, paired with the rampant enthusiasm for the Internet of Things (IoT) movement, keeping up the relentless pace of advanced technology seems nearly impossible. But impossible means little to those who carry a deep-rooted passion for field, those like the Enterprise Developers Guild.
The Enterprise Developers Guild, commonly referred to as “The Guild”, is arguably the most successful user group in the southeast. Led totally by volunteers and made up of a community of hundreds of developers, The Guild offers a peer-to-peer learning society, with technical education on the latest Microsoft platforms, products, technologies and resources. Each month, local developers gather at the Charlotte Microsoft campus to explore their colleagues’ expertise, learn new technologies, and (thanks to the corporate sponsors) eat lots of pizza.
Anyone familiar with The Guild will testify that they are not just another user group. Founded by Bill Jones Jr. in 1998, the organization has steadily grown to its current state due to an insatiable energy brought to each and every gathering. From their leadership to their devoted members, this group of exceptional individuals epitomizes the Yeats quote that preceded this article. Not only do they “light the fire” when it comes to key technologies, they fuel it, most notably by their signature day-of-training event, Carolina Code Camp.
2014 marks the 14th occasion of this now annual gathering, where over 350 developers from across the region flocked to CPCC’s Levine Campus to partake in back-to-back sessions of, as most would say, “pure Microsoft goodness”. Held on Saturday, May 3rd, this year’s event featured a 12-track schedule with an astonishing 60 sessions provided by over 50 speakers.
Mark Wilson, Carolina Code Camp Committee Co-Chair and First Vice President of the Enterprise Developers Guild, says, “We had 80 sessions submitted by 55 speakers – the most we have ever received in the past. One of the ways our event is different from other events is that we never turn away a speaker.”
This “full inclusion” ideology exemplifies The Guild’s unyielding motivation to engage each and every member and their specialties, creating a well-rounded resource pool for local developers.
Dan Thyer, Carolina Code Camp Steering Committee member and CTO of local software development company, Logical Advantage, speaks on his experience with The Guild and Carolina Code Camp, stating, “I have gotten exposure to a wide array of technology that otherwise I might not have been exposed to. It energizes me to see cool stuff that other people are doing and makes me want to learn more quickly how to do some cool stuff myself.”
The Camps’ key topics included Mobile, Cloud, Data, SharePoint and Visual Studio, to name a few. Additionally, the event offered the oh-so-popular Builder Faire, where attendance to some of the sessions were so great, individuals stood outside the room just to get a glimpse of the action. Premiered in 2013, the Builder Faire is where developers are able to showcase some of their extra-curricular projects; it will further expand on IoT and Maker topics, such as programing for Google Glass, and some pretty awesome tricks with home automation.
The uniqueness of this track proved to be a wonderful platform to engage up-and-coming IT talent, because the projects were largely based around home automation, they involved many of the presenter’s family members. One of the sessions was even kicked-off by the presenter, Jamie Dixon’s teenage daughter, who had a large hand in developing his “Eject-a-bed” project. Additionally, Thyer’s Kinect/Netduino session highlighted his projects from over the years, in which his family plays a large role as he employ’s his teenage sons to create videos complete with custom soundtracks to document his technical milestones. A new addition to Thyer’s talk was his automated cat toy, which is controlled by motion and audio and perfectly “blinged out” by his 9-year-old daughter who helped with the power source and enclosure for the components.
IoT is quickly becoming an almost mandatory skillset for developers to have within their intellectual arsenal.
“These are important trends for developers to watch. Our focus on automating our work-life is beginning to bleed into our family-life. There is a lot of growth potential in this relatively new sector,” states Wilson.
Considering the richness of topics, diversity of participants and potential to receive unmatched insight into technical programs and processes, one would expect a pretty hefty price tag on admission to this all day event. However, what could quite possibly be the most staggering characteristic of Carolina Code Camp, and of the Enterprise Developers Guild as a whole, is that the cost is FREE. The organization and camp is 100% sustained by volunteers and the corporate support of local companies such as Logical Advantage.
While, yes, Logical Advantage is a continued supporter of The Guild, their involvement reaches beyond their sponsor status, as many of their employees include Thyer, Wilson and Code Camp staple, Syl Walker. With these individuals, The Guild has not only been able to maintain their initiatives, but also increase awareness through the recent release of their new website, along with e-mail campaigns offering subscribers meeting and industry updates right to their inbox.
“Much of our success is due to our president, Bill Jones Jr., as well as the dedicated members of the Guild Steering Committee. But to keep going, we need more volunteers who would be willing to help lead the group in the future,” says Wilson.
Though we don’t foresee The Guild will lose traction any time soon, the leadership takes the recruitment of involved members very seriously. As they continue to light, and fuel, the passion for technology within their members, their main goal is to continue providing vital and free resources, further enriching the IT talent of the Carolinas.
For more information on Carolina Code Camp or The Enterprise Developers Guild, visit their website at www.developersguild.org.Go Back