Posts about Coding

Why Learn Programming?

March 14, 2018
Yasmine Grand Circus

Yasmine, a Junior JavaScript Instructor, shares her insights on why it’s important to learn programming

As a developer, I often get the question: “Why programming?”

During my days as a teacher, I rarely looked at a computer during the day, let alone actually use one to solve my daily problems. I found I was encouraging my students to be creative and make things every day, while not having the skills or ability myself to do the same.

When I became a programmer, I was finally able to gain the skills to be able to create things that tangibly solve problems people run into on a daily basis. Being able to create something from nothing is why I became a programmer, but there are many more reasons why someone should consider the career. Here are my top three reasons why you should!

  1. Relevancy

If you want to be relevant in today’s industry, or the very least, know what you’re talking about, 

Why learn to code?

learning to code is a really important gateway to understand how today’s society works.

Without a baseline knowledge of how the technology you interact with works, you run the risk of missing out on emerging careers, regardless of whether you use a programming language or not. Being able to talk to others about how things are built is an invaluable skill that will set you apart.

  1. Solve real problems!

While having a basic understanding of programming is necessary to communicate with others in programming related industries, a deeper understanding of code can help you solve problems in your daily life.

For example, when I first started to program, I would practice by creating things I knew would make me more efficient. I realized that I could write a program that would create a new daily workout routine for me based on my previous workouts. Writing the code to solve this problem took me about an hour on a weekend afternoon, and it’s saved me a lot of time searching for or thinking about workout routines every time I plan on going to the gym.

  1. Help real people find real solutions

Yasmine helping students at GC codetretreatAt its core, programming is really just taking problems or inefficiencies and using code to solve them, or make them significantly simpler.

During my first job as a programmer, we worked with a mental health organization that was trying to reach hundreds of people. Their main issue was the site was being able to receive donations, since they are a nonprofit, most of their business depends on them.

Thanks to our programming and problem-solving skills, my team and I were able to create a much more streamlined process for the organization that was user friendly and efficient. Watching the new site develop, hearing their needs and solving a real-world issue they had allowed me to see how good programming can make a big difference to others.

Ultimately, programming is really about a mindset. It’s about being able to take big or small problems and break them down into manageable solutions. The way we develop today has allowed so many people to be able to make everyday tasks, like communication or travel, so much easier.

All of this is possible because people chose to learn to program and utilized their skills to develop these processes. There are SO many reasons to learn programming; these are just a few that were important in my transition from teacher to programmer. If you have questions about starting your journey, don’t hesitate to reach out

Meet Colton, a Java Coding Bootcamp Graduate

October 5, 2017

Our students have always come from a diverse set of backgrounds, but this was a first! Colton was a student in our October 2016 Java Bootcamp cohort who changed his career from deckhand in Charlevoix to developer.

Even though Colton graduated back in December 2016, he continues to stay involved with the Grand Circus community and is a great resource for current students or those thinking about joining a coding bootcamp. Continue reading for insights on his bootcamp experience, how Grand Circus can help you make a career change too, and why Colton landed a job before graduation! (more…)

The Secret To Being A Successful Bootcamp Student: Growth Mindset

September 17, 2017

growth mindset vs fixed mindset Being the Director of Learning for a coding bootcamp, I’m frequently asked what makes someone successful in a bootcamp setting. Leaving a career to jump back into school is hard. Going back to school as an adult is hard. Taking a bootcamp, which demands you learn as much as you would work in full-time job, is really, really hard. I know people take huge risks to join the programs I oversee, so I’ve spent a lot of time analyzing what makes someone truly successful. I think it comes down to this: the best bootcamp students have a growth mindset.

Fixed Mindset vs. Growth Mindset

Out there in the great big world, there are two main types of mindsets: fixed & growth.

Fixed Mindset

The quick and dirty way to describe this is that individuals with fixed mindsets believe that they are smart, talented, capable, etc.; therefore, they are good at things. They, in essence, believe that they are born with the qualities that make them succeed. Those with fixed mindsets tend to experience failure and setbacks pretty traumatically. Following the same logic of their success: now, they have failed; therefore, they are bad at {perhaps coding?}. Learning ends at failure points.

Growth Mindset

On the other hand, we have those with a growth mindset. Individuals with growth mindset, in short, see failures and setbacks as opportunities for growth. They persevere and persist in the face of failure; they are good at things because they have failed. Individuals with a growth mindset believe that success doesn’t just “come,” it is a product of effort. Individuals with growth mindset subscribe to the brain-as-a-muscle school of thought. For individuals with a growth mindset, learning happens during failure points.

Growth mindset is a concept that has been around in education for a long time, but what it comes down to is this: how do you react to setbacks or failures?

Coding bootcamps require failure daily.

Sometimes multiple times a day. To be truly successful in a bootcamp, you need to be comfortable persevering through your mistakes. When you attempt a coding challenge and it doesn’t work, are you going to slam your computer shut, or are you going to try a different type of loop? When you’ve spent three hours working on a program and it’s not producing your expected output, are you going to delete all your code, or are you going to refresh and debug? When your API no longer works in the 11th hour, are you deleting that feature or are you buckling down to find a workaround?

Evaluate: What You Can Do Right Now

The next time you experience a big setback, before you take action, take a moment to evaluate your own reaction. Bootcamp students challenge themselves to exhibit grit and persistence to see setbacks, both big and small, as opportunities to become better developers. Bootcamp students are (or quickly become) individuals with a growth mindset.

What’s Up with Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality

September 7, 2017

Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) don’t exist independently of each other.  Rather, both are points (or ranges) along a continuum. Augmented Reality is at one end (with low immersion, or high inclusion of physical reality) and Virtual Reality at the other end (with high immersion, or complete exclusion of physical reality).

Enhanced Reality

We may see the terms “Augmented” and “Virtual” Reality go away as more people gain experience with these technologies, and witness the overlap and connections between the two; we may see a term such as Enhanced Reality come into being as the entire spectrum with specific technologies clustering at different points along the spectrum.  Already some devices offer support for both, including the Michigan-based Immy Inc. whose headset includes an LCD panel to block vision for VR, or goes clear for Mixed Reality.

Mixed Reality

So what’s Mixed Reality?  The term is muddy and debated.  When Microsoft debuted HoloLens, they came up with the term Mixed Reality (MR) to differentiate it from previous AR technologies.  In 2017, they further tweaked the meaning of the term and at times seem to use it to refer to the entire AR/MR spectrum.  Currently their website offers the definition: “Mixed reality blends real-world and virtual content into hybrid environments where physical and digital objects coexist and interact.”  As a term created by a specific company for their products, MR may or may not catch on in a broader sense.  Other companies so far are mostly sticking to AR and VR, with a few using other terms (such as Intel’s “Merged Reality”).

Others continue to use Mixed Reality to refer to a middle point in the AR/VR spectrum.  Here’s a basic guide to the three technologies this use of the term identifies:





VR is a fully immersive environment; visual input from the real world is excluded and other kinds of input are typically minimized.


MR places virtual objects in real-world contexts to make them look truly present.  It involves an interaction between the real and virtual which AR omits. AR overlays data, images, and objects over the user’s real world view without trying to make them look seamless—essentially a “Heads-Up Display.”
HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear, PSVR Microsoft HoloLens, Magic Leap, DAQRI Smart Helmet/Glasses Google Glass, Epson Moverio, ODG R8/R9

  • Immersive environment
    • Completely blocks physical world
    • 360-degree surround
  • Limited real-world physical movement
  • Generally tethered
  • May involve handheld controllers

  • Tightest integration with the physical world
  • Untethered
  • Captures surrounding environment
    • Can capture hand gestures
    • Can allow for safe navigation

  • Lowest-cost hardware
  • Greatest awareness of surroundings; allows safe navigation of the physical environment
  • Typically voice-controlled

  • Immersive simulations
  • In-depth experiences
  • Safe first (or repeated) exposure to hazardous situations

  • Embedded support tightly integrated with what user sees
  • Third-party coaching/mentoring
  • Overlaid diagrams/ cutaways/ guides

  • Embedded support triggered by elements in the environment
  • Context-sensitive information
  • Reference materials and task lists
  • Real-time information updates


Next time the topic of AR/VR comes up (as it does more and more these days) you can reference this table!


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Virtual Reality vs. (or with) Augmented Reality

August 9, 2017

Virtual Reality and its relatives Mixed Reality and Augmented Reality are exciting, powerful technologies that have all gained a lot of attention in the past year. The question is, what do they all mean?

What are Virtual Reality, Mixed Reality and Augmented Reality?

Many people have not yet had an opportunity to try one or more of these technologies. There’s much overlap in these terms as well, which can make the learning process more confusing.


Detroit Codes Harder

July 21, 2017

Since the beginning of 2016, we’ve exposed over 1,800 individuals to coding through our free Intro to Coding Workshops. The Intro to Coding Workshops are part of a much longer history and much deeper effort. While many of us are doing our best, the tech industry remains no stranger to recurring patterns of discrimination and inequitable practices. We’ve known for a long time that if you’re going to be in tech, “you have to want to” (thanks for the empowering words Michelle Obama!) break those narratives. Inspired by our beloved Detroiters, we began the hustle.  (more…)

Find The Right Bootcamp For You

May 16, 2017

With more than 10,700 jobs added in the last year, Michigan’s tech industry is booming. If you’ve ever dreamed about taking a coding bootcamp and pursuing a career as a web developer, then now is the perfect time to take the first step. But how do you get started?

Having trained more than 650 developers, our staff has a lot of experience when it comes to helping people find the right program to fit their personal experience and professional goals. Just like programming languages, no two bootcamps are the same. It is important that you choose a program that is going to give you the best return on your investment. So if you’re looking to start a new career in tech this year, we have a few pointers from our staff. (more…)

5 Reasons You Should Learn C#

February 27, 2017

Our lead instructor, Kamel Rushaidat, Ph.D., shares insights on why he loves C# and why others should learn the programing language. If you are looking for an explanation of what C# is, hop over to our blog 10 Things to Know About the .NET Programming Language.

One question that comes mind when people are trying to learn programming for the first time is “What language should I start learning first?” There are a lot of options out there, and we teach a few tracks in our coding bootcamps, but I think that C# would have been my very first choice if it has been around when I started to learn coding.

Since its introduction back in 2000, C# has been gaining a lot popularity, although it is fairly new when compared to other popular programming languages ––– such as Java and C++. I have been using C# since its introduction, and I really enjoy coding with it. I have used it to develop many web, mobile and desktop applications.

Here are my top 5 Reasons on why you Should Learn C#:

1. It’s Easy to Start With

If you choose C# as your first programming language, you can pick up a lot of concepts easily enough. Setting up a hello project is very intuitive. As one of the most popular programming languages, you will have a ton of material on the internet that can help you resolve problems and errors in your code (keep reading to learn more about this). This can be extremely helpful if you just started to learn a new programming language. Plus, Visual Studio (which you use to write C# – see point #3!) is an amazingly powerful and incredibly helpful tool. If you already know Java, C or C++, C# will be fairly easy to learn, as many of the basic program structures and statements are similar.

2. The Ability to Develop Many Kinds of Apps on Several Operating Systems

Through many years, I developed many apps using C#, such as web, desktop, mobile, robot (Lego Mindstorms) applications as well as games (Unity) and REST APIs. C# can be your one-stop shop for all of those applications, so you won’t need to learn a new language to develop a different kinds of applications. This means it has a lot of practicality when developing.

3. Large Availability of Powerful Development Tools

One of the biggest selling points of .NET(C#) is that Microsoft provides a wide suite of powerful tools that can help programmers develop better programs. The most important of all of those tools is by far Visual Studio. Visual Studio is a very powerful and rich Integrated Development Environment (IDE) that provides a wide set of tools to support program development, testing and debugging, performance analysis, version control, deployment, and much more. Visual Studio is a beginning programmer’s best friend.

4. Microsoft has Your Back!

Microsoft is constantly adding new features to the language. Microsoft also provided support for seamless integration with other Microsoft technologies, such as Microsoft SQL server, cloud computing, Azure dep
loyment and many more. Having these features makes the language more versatile, easy to learn and increases its usability.Reasons You Should Learn C Sharp

5. Popularity

If you Google “the most popular programming languages,” C# will be most certainly be one of the top five most commonly used languages. This means that you will find many resources, books, tutorials, videos and more to help you learn C#. Microsoft has a training website, Microsoft’s Virtual Academy, that offers many courses for beginner developers. Other popular sites that provide tutorials include Pluralsight,, and Complete C# Tutorial.

Many companies use C# to develop applications, such as Quicken Loans, Domino’s Pizza, Sears, NBC news website and many more. (Learn more about this in our blog 5 Companies that use .NET)

I hope that those reasons are enough to convince you to start learning C#! See you on! ☺

Resolving Git Conflicts from the Command Line

September 8, 2016

One of the most challenging yet common activities development teams run into with Git is resolving merge conflicts. This happens when multiple developers are making changes in a repository at the same time.

This post provides a walkthrough of how to get through two typical Git conflict scenarios. To set the scene, Grant and I are two developers working on a simple web page. We’re starting out with two files, index.html and styles.css. Our repository is hosted at GitHub, and in this case we are both working directly on the master branch.


5 Michigan Companies that use .NET

August 4, 2016


At Grand Circus, we know that people want to know where they’ll be able to use their skills once the bootcamp is over. One of the awesome things about learning .NET at Grand Circus is that there are lots of local companies that use this framework every day right in our own neighborhood. Here’s a brief sample of a few companies that use .NET where bootcamp graduates could possibly work.

Quicken Loans

Located just down the road from Grand Circus, Quicken Loans is an online mortgage lender that employs hundreds of developers. Quicken Loans was recently listed as one of the top 5 places to work in America by Forbes. The company has a large development team, so there are tons of seasoned developers to learn from as bootcamp graduates grow in their careers. Dozens of Grand Circus alumni currently work for Quicken Loans in a variety of positions—everything from interns to software developers!