Code Nation x Revel Field Trip Recap: Bringing Students into New York Clean Tech
by Jack Ratner, Software Engineer at Revel
New York City is one of the fastest growing tech markets, second only to Silicon Valley. The city has an unparalleled diversity of industry, institutions, culture and people that make it attractive for top tech companies, founders, investors and of course talent. Increasingly, new tech jobs are cropping up outside of Manhattan’s core business districts in the outer boroughs, opening up more opportunities particularly for native New Yorkers and New Yorkers from socio-economically underserved neighborhoods.
The data bears this out. A recent report from HR&A and Tech:NYC on the health of New York’s tech ecosystem over the last decade showed tech jobs in Brooklyn grew at a faster rate than any other borough, adding over 14,000 jobs. Yet it also revealed little to no progress has been made improving racial or gender representation, even more so on higher-paying end of tech jobs. More needs to be done to give all New Yorkers the ability to participate in the tech sector, and the economic mobility that carries.
For tech’s growth to truly benefit New York long-term, we have to make sure young adults — especially from historically excluded backgrounds in the tech sector — are equipped with the skills to obtain these jobs. That means tech skilling from childhood education, to city and state college programs, to workforce development programs beyond that. Baseline programming skills should be viewed like reading and writing: essential skills to understand and succeed in today’s world.
Code Nation Students at the NYC Revel Office
Revel, where I work as a software engineer, is one Brooklyn company that has contributed to the borough’s outsized tech job growth in the last few years. Revel is the leading provider of electric vehicle fast charging in New York and runs an all-electric rideshare service with over 1,000 employee drivers. While we’re still relatively small for our industry, just a few dozen of us on the tech team, we’re beginning to think about our role shaping the workforce pipeline in the communities we operate in.
Electric vehicles and the charging infrastructure for them are emerging technologies, with many challenges to come and a huge need for smart engineers to solve them. They are also key to the city’s and the country’s emission reduction goals, which is incredibly personal to the younger generations who will live with the worst impacts of climate change. Revel sees a unique role we can play educating students and young adults in the tech, logistics and operations behind electric fleet management and public charging infrastructure. It’s a foot in the door to the wide and rapidly growing space of climate tech.
That’s where our first partnership with Code Nation came in. Earlier this month, Code Nation helped us host 15 students from the Williamsburg High School of Arts and Technology, a school right in Revel’s backyard. The kids spent nearly a full day with leaders on our engineering and operations teams, learning coding skills and working through real-world Revel case studies. And of course, we wrapped the day with some classic Brooklyn pizza. Field trips like this not only give students some practical experience outside the classroom, they also show them that a career at a company like Revel is something they could actually have when they grow up.
Tech is supposed to be a space where everyone belongs, but if young people don’t see themselves represented, they won’t seek for themselves to be included. Code Nation has a really innovative model to change that perception. They are able to leverage the many resources of the tech sector — including for field trips like we did, but also regular elective classes embedded in schools, mentorship and other material support — for the benefit of interested students, with a focus on providing opportunities to Black, Latino and women youth in under-resourced high schools. It’s an effective ground-up approach and an investment in the future of communities that need it most.
As New York’s tech sector continues to build up, there will be more and more industry connections for students to access through Code Nation, and as a result more possibilities they can imagine for their future. Revel hopes to be one of those possibilities. With Code Nation supporting New York students, we can be.
Jack Ratner is a Software Engineer at Revel, one of Code Nation’s company partners in New York City.