Amira Ahmed's story – Bath Spa University

Amira Ahmed brings her ten years of experience in coding and design to her teaching on the Skills Bootcamps in Web Development and Creative Computing.

As a Lecturer on the Skills Bootcamps, Amira has developed the curriculum, created course content, and coached the students throughout the course. Alongside this, she’s been mentoring front-end developers and designers on live projects. Amira has over a decade of academic and commercial experience and has led several projects as a software developer and designer.

"Our job as lecturers is to create an environment that equips our learners with the technical skills needed to walk straight into an entry-level position after completing the course."

Getting involved with the Skills Bootcamps

I’ve been coding and designing professionally for around ten years. My passion for coding started when I was studying for my BSc in software engineering. Once I left university, I began lecturing in higher education and working as a software engineer in software houses. As time went on I progressed into mentoring on apprenticeships and short courses in the software development field.

Before joining the team at Bath Spa University I’d mentored on a couple of bootcamps, such as codenation. During this time I observed how the learners made the most of the useful resources they received.

The 12-week programme used in these bootcamps builds up your sector-specific skills and is a cool and interesting teaching approach. So when Bath Spa University reached out to me about the upcoming opportunities on the Skills Bootcamps in Creative Computing and Web Development, I jumped on board.

Our job as lecturers is to create an environment that equips our learners with the technical skills needed to walk straight into an entry-level position after completing the course. We also teach soft skills, such as interview techniques and how to work well in a group, that'll see our students slot seamlessly into an already well-established team.

"The biggest piece of advice I can give to someone thinking about applying to a Skills Bootcamp is just go for it."

The growth and development of the Skills Bootcamps

I bring my skills in design development and front-end technology to the short courses we offer. Now that we've completed several cohorts of our Skills Bootcamp in Creative Computing, we've found a nice balance between the more creative side of the course, which my colleague James Shaw covers, and the web development and tech side, which I teach. I mentor the creative side of the web by working with students on design principles and using web technology for high-end designs.

We’ve developed the curriculum over the last year. It draws upon real-life industry expertise to prepare our students for success as professional developers in the real world. We condense the most practical skills and practices of a four-year Computer Science degree into just 12 weeks to maximise their return on time spent working with real code. In addition, we ensure students get the chance to get their hands on the code and get messy from day one, with plenty of support along the way.

In my opinion, the biggest success of these courses is that most of our students are now working in their desired tech and design fields. This shows us that once students finish their Skills Bootcamp, they have the necessary building blocks of web development knowledge and a good portfolio, allowing them to acquire entry-level roles in tech.

"In my opinion, the biggest success of these courses is that most of our students are now working in their desired tech and design fields."

Teaching on the Skills Bootcamps

Teaching front-end development

I'm responsible for teaching front-end development, from the basics of HTML and CSS to the advanced JavaScript and React JS library. I love thinking about what it means to write Test Driven Development, the SOLID principles, and clean coding for good professional web practices. The SOLID principles are very important for our students to understand as they help to make software development easy, reusable, flexible, and maintainable.

Learning and utilising different programming languages

Our renowned Skills Bootcamps cover all aspects of front-end software development. You'll learn about the tools you need to get started with the basics of web development, HTML and CSS, before gaining an in-depth understanding of the most popular programming language used in the industry: JavaScript and its Library React.

I’m particularly passionate about using React and love it with my whole heart. We've also found that it's useful for students to learn how to use multiple languages as they’re then able to use core problem solving techniques to decide which one is most suitable for their projects, as well as becoming more desirable for future employers.

“Coding is like having a superpower. You have the ability to make magical things happen by using your mind.”

Building confidence and making coding approachable

One thing that stood out to me about the Skills Bootcamps at Bath Spa University was how accessible they were. We run daytime and evening courses, so there’s great flexibility in learning. In particular, the evening sessions allow students in employment who can't afford to quit their jobs for three months to attend.

I think these courses also make coding itself more accessible. Once upon a time, the words "coding" or "web development" conjured up images of data-obsessed computer geeks. Nowadays, coding is seen as a vital skill and an illustrious career path that's pursued by a wide range of people from both creative and non-creative backgrounds.

The biggest piece of advice I can give to someone thinking about applying to a Skills Bootcamp is just go for it. Don't feel like you have to understand everything straight away, it comes with time. Don't believe anyone who undermines your skill level or abilities. Just keep going and one day it will just click. Us lecturers are also here to support our students with those topics they don’t quite understand. We’re available outside of lesson time and during drop-in sessions to provide further insight and build their confidence in those tricky areas.

“It's easy to fixate on and feel overwhelmed by the concepts you haven't yet grown comfortable with, but taking time to acknowledge your accomplishments can be just the thing you need to get you to the next stage on your developer journey.”

About Amira

When I’m not working, I love traveling with my family and kids. In my spare time I practise calligraphy and photography, and I love binge watching Netflix!

Edit section | Website feedback to web@bathspa.ac.uk