In six years, about two thousand students have graduated from Apple Developer. Four hundred were yesterday in the Aula Magna of the San Giorgio a Teduccio Campus, just outside Naples, listening to Lisa Jackson, Apple’s Senior Vice President Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives. “Today is not an end, because education is not a goal. It is a journey. And I can’t wait to see where yours will lead, ”she said at the graduation ceremony for students from 19 different countries.
What we have seen is encouraging: because those who attend the Academy learn the code, study the graphical interface, prepare business plans and practice marketing, but also try to find meaning in what they do. Jackson talks about apps that “have the potential to have a positive effect on people”, and cites applications like Remoria and Anne among many examples. The first, born from a very heterogeneous team by nationality, gender, background, was developed in collaboration with the Neapolitan branch of the Italian Alzheimer’s Disease Association (AIMA) and uses Apple technology to help address the speech and understanding problems of patients, already in the early phase.
The Anne app is named after Anne Sullivan, the teacher who led the writer and activist Helen Keller for 40 years: it is a gateway to the outside world for deaf people, thanks to the use of Morse code, by tap and swipe and vibration of the iPhone. She was born from the knowledge of a deaf and dumb Paralympic athlete.
And again: TrueSteppy, which helps the blind and visually impaired to recognize obstacles and avoid them thanks to the smartphone, and then Echo, conceived together with the Neapolitan association Cleanap, to build a tool that would echo the ecological initiatives promoted on a local basis. Or Litt, to know the position of the sun and the direction of the sun’s rays in an hour and a specific place. Lisa Jackson also met the creators of KoiKoi, an app that brings the Japanese card game KoiKoi to digital, born from an all-Campania team with three members who come from the East of Naples, and the result of a collaboration with Apple Academy in South Korea.
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“Time and time again, students and faculty at this venue have shown that coding is a truly universal language, and that the greatest measure of technology is how we use it in the service of others,” says Lisa Jackson. And she defines Naples “the Italian capital of developers”.
Apple last fall announced a new investment in the program, and extended the agreement with Federico II University until 2025, as well as launching a new alumni program that will support graduates in their business ventures. Meanwhile, the Campus also hosts a series of Co-Innovation Hubs, spaces in which companies collaborate with Federico II on initiatives related to open innovation, technology transfer and the acceleration of startups. And in recent years in the San Giovanni a Teduccio hub, new research centers and academies of big names in technology such as Cisco, Deloitte, Accenture, TIM and others have been born.
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The course of study
According to Apple data, the iOS app economy currently supports more than 2.2 million jobs across Europe; of these over 85,000 in Italy; in this sense the activity that takes place in San Giovanni plays a fundamental role.
The courses, free of charge, are of different types. The standard one lasts 9-10 months. Another 3,000 students have completed Foundations courses since 2016: they last 30 days, and are offered in collaboration with several universities and non-profit organizations across the Region. Foundation courses are designed for students who are interested in learning the basics of programming.
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At the Academy of San Giovanni no one is judged, also because there are no teachers but mentors, older boys and girls who accompany the students in their training. The Apple Academy not only prepares students for the career opportunities of the iOS app economy, but supports them on their career path once the program is complete. Over 100 companies have participated in recruiting and job fair events for Academy graduates, and program participants have embarked on successful careers in Italy and abroad. The Academy’s international vocation is also evident in the composition of the 2021/2022 class: 28% women, 80% Italians, 20% foreigners and students from other countries. But, for a curious irony, the Apple campus is located right where one of the most typical products of Naples and Italy was produced: the Cirio tomato preserves.
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