Iron Yard Graduation

On February 16, 2017, The Iron Yard Las Vegas held a graduation for its back-end(*) class. Like all previous Iron Yard graduations, the projects presented by the students are well beyond what one would expect from students coming out of a 12 week bootcamp. These were not mere toy projects nor unfinished efforts.

The event was hosted by Gabe Shepherd, with comments by both instructors, Jeff Newburn (back end) and Mike Sweeney (front end).

The students then stood up and presented a brief overview of their individual projects.

The students were as follows:

Each student was bright, articulate, and well-spoken. What really struck me was how each project truly followed the student’s individual passion.

Melody worked for an artist for a number of years, and she has a real love for art. Her project allows users to track their favorite artists and discover new works by both their favorite artists as well as artists with similar styles. Her project was especially impressive in it’s visual design (to be expected given the subject matter, but still excellent nonetheless). The design was sleek, fluid, and aesthetically pleasing. If you’d like to see for yourself, hop on over to

Darion is a coffee aficionado. His site allows users to find, rate, and share information about their favorite coffees and where to obtain them. I typically hesitate to describe people’s projects as “the X of Y” but in this case, it seems appropriate to call Darion’s project the laser-focused Yelp of coffee, but on steroids. The idea, not the coffee.


Josiah is a gamer. His idea is rooted in his own experience, and one he has seen commonly in video gaming. Many games have levels that are difficult to beat, even with high levels of repetition. There’s often a trick to a given level, or occasionally a user gets stuck and misses a simple solution. Josiah’s website allows users to pair up to assist each other with a given game.


* – Although this was nominally a back end class to teach Java, the students were also taught front end (HTML, CSS, and Javascript). Normally, front- and back-end classes run at the same time and students pair up for their projects. For this cohort, there was no front-end class, so the back-end students had to do the entire project themselves. Rest assured that these did not look like unfinished front-end or poorly styled projects. Instead, the students took this challenge on full force and did a wonderful job.

Disclaimer: I am on the Board of Advisors for The Iron Yard Las Vegas.