NUVI CTO Brett Allred has created an organization for people to come and learn computer programming from professional software engineers.

The need for adequate computer programmers is well-documented, a need that grows daily. The explosion of successful tech companies within Utah has brought added weight to this issue — growing businesses look to fill developer positions from a talent pool that (many times) lacks the necessary knowledge for entry-level positions.

NUVI CTO Brett Allred understands the growing need for programming talent. In fact, he lives it as the head technical honcho (official title, of course) at a company that requires its fair share of computer programers.

Less than a year ago, Allred wanted to jumpstart an internship program through NUVI that would create access to up-and-coming programmers. Over 80 people applied and through the interview process, Allred learned some things. Namely, how underprepared everyone was.

“I was really impressed with how excited, hungry, and motivated these people were to come in and learn about programming,” said Allred. “But as we got into the interview process and started asking questions, they all really fell short of what I would consider entry-level knowledge. That part was extremely disappointing.”

Allred voiced his concerns to other CTOs within Utah, who all agreed that they faced similar challenges at their own companies. This got the wheels spinning and before long, the group began spitballing ideas on how to start solving the dilemma.

“There are so many programmer jobs out there, so many opportunities, so many people that are hungry to do this,” said Allred. “But there’s a disconnect in the way they’re being educated. What can we do to help change things? Maybe teach them a different model of learning so they can actually go and get jobs as programmers.”

Just like that, Allred founded DevNano. It centers on a simple idea: finding a way to help the community by providing under-qualified individuals with an introduction to the basic principles of computer programming. Allred explained part of his reasoning via an open letter:

I believe that everyone should learn how to program a computer. Learning to program teaches individuals how to think, how to be creative, how to be innovative and how to better solve problems. Learning to program also helps individuals better understand the technology shaping our modern world. I understand not everyone is going to be a professional, but that shouldn’t restrict them from learning the basics.

As a self-taught developer and an advisor for the MATC computer science program, Allred has helped shape curriculum based off his own experiences. For DevNano, he plans on bringing that same ideology to the table.

“The principles of programming, networking, computers, and building things are not changing that rapidly,” said Allred. “In fact, most of the concepts have been around for over 50 years. But we don’t focus on the fundamental principles of how this stuff works, we get worried about every little change that’s happening in the market.”

To explain this idea, Allred offered another example: automobiles. No matter how many snazzy new features get thrown into cars, the basic concept has remained the same for the last 100 years, just four wheels and an engine. He believes computer programmers would be better served by treating development in the same way, focusing on the core principles rather than the infinite comings-and-goings in technology.

The first step for DevNano is a meetup group that will gather for the first time on May 2 at the Nuvi building in Lehi. The course is free and Allred plans to focus on an introduction to software development, providing people with the basic principles he’s learned throughout his career as a developer. Allred plans on meeting weekly with the group and hopes to lay the foundation for a larger DevNano program, one that provides 1000 under-qualified individuals with the skills and mentorship to obtain developer jobs.

“We’re going to start from the basics, just come and learn,” said Allred.