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By Chelsea Jubitana, '21, Duke University

After hearing about the ways that other students worked on a Code+ project from the ground up and the access they had to mentors in Duke’s Office of Information Technology, Ahmad Khan, ’22, decided to apply.

He hoped to gain experience working with a team of developers to learn advanced coding practices while contributing to a project that could benefit Duke. His goal was to develop a stronger understanding of how software and hardware interact, and to apply this knowledge to real-world situations.

“When applying to Code+, I did so with the hope that I would have access to OIT mentors who could teach me better coding practices,” said Khan, a computer science major.

His decision paid off. Khan is part of a small group that worked on the Feed Every Devil (FED) project, which aims to address food insecurity among Duke students by providing an app that allows students to donate their extra food points to a food points bank.

Code+ is a ten-week summer program that provides undergraduate students with little to no experience in tech the skills necessary to land an industry internship the following summer. Students gain the technical skills they need to take a project from a mere idea to a prototype or more developed product with the guidance of IT professionals. From the experience, participants also develop presentation skills, learn best practices for software development, and engage with Duke stakeholders and corporate sponsors.

During summer 2020, Khan and his team learned enough to develop a web application that allows students to request food points and, upon approval, receive food points that other students have donated. The experience exceeded his expectations. Khan continues to work with his Code+ team on the project, and they hope to launch the application in fall 2021.

"Code+ has definitely helped me in my long-term goal of becoming a better developer through exposure to well-written code from my mentors and learning to think through the implications that certain code design choices have on the overall application,” Khan said.

“Through participating in Code+, I became more qualified for software engineer internships, and I also gained critical thinking skills for project management and a much stronger understanding of how web applications work,” he added.

Khan recommends that current students considering Code+ should apply, as it provides a low-stress environment to develop new skills in software development while providing meaningful work that positively impacts Duke.

“If I had the choice between Code+ and a formal internship, I would choose Code+ because of the freedom the program granted us in developing a project as well as building an application from scratch,” he said.