Google Code Next lab coming to Michigan Central; student says free program gave him head start

Posted at 5:14 PM, Mar 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-21 17:14:56-04

(WXYZ) — The world of tech sparked something inside Joshua Wallington at a young age.

"I really liked video games as a kid. And eventually, at some point, I was like, 'oh, it would be cool to make one,'" he said.

Not knowing where to start, he turned to YouTube for help.

"I ended up creating my first game when I was 13 and publishing it to a site called Roblox," said Joshua.

Fast forward to high school in metro Detroit, that’s when Joshua started, well, Googling about Google.

"I kind of started to look more things up and found Code Next. And this was during the height of the pandemic," he said.

Google founded Code Next in 2015; the free program aims to grow the next generation of diverse tech leaders, lifting up Black, Hispanic and Native American high school students through courses and clubs operating on a semester schedule.

Joshua applied, and was accepted.

"I was able to interact with kids that look like me in the STEM field, which was, I think, one of the most valuable experiences ever. And then the instructors were really hands on," he said.

Joshua did the program virtually — but now a physical location, a Code Next lab will be coming to Michigan Central.

It’s just one part of Ford and Google’s partnership aimed at breathing life into a new mobility district in Detroit, giving people the opportunity to learn new skills.

"Google believes in the city and the people of Detroit. We're committed to ensuring that everyone who calls Detroit home has the opportunity to learn the skills needed for today's most in-demand jobs," said Danielle Russell, Managing Director, Americas Platforms at Google and the Google Detroit Site Lead.

Joshua, who is currently a freshman at Howard University, said Code Next gave him a head start.

"I was definitely ahead of my peers when it came to midterms and tests and understanding what was going on. And then I still had the Code Next community for questions, so I would ask my professor questions," he said.

Now an alum of the program, Joshua is a big supporter, encouraging local students who are thinking about a career in tech.

"It's something that most people will enjoy, especially being able to create something of your own — is something that everyone should do. So whether that's computer science, engineering, working with drones, technology is everywhere. Technology is cool. People should go for it," he said.

As the build continues for the Code Next lab here, all high schoolers are still encouraged to check out the programming and see what might work for them.

The lab is expected to be completed later this year.

Check out more about Code Next and the program offerings here.