Thursday, April 15, 2021

Michigan State, Apple collaborate on first U.S. Developer Academy in Detroit

February 4, 2021
Sophomores Julia Turnbull and Lily Franklin talk about a class study tool displayed on Julia's laptop on January 27, 2020.
Sophomores Julia Turnbull and Lily Franklin talk about a class study tool displayed on Julia's laptop on January 27, 2020. —
Photo by Lauren DeMay | The State News

Michigan State University has teamed up with Apple to launch the U.S.’s first Developer Academy in Downtown Detroit later this year.

The academy is a year-long program designed to give students the combination of coding, design, business and entrepreneurial skills needed to enter the iOS app economy.

“At Apple, we believe technology can be a powerful force for good, opening new doors to opportunities to learn, create, and be part of the thriving app economy,” Apple’s Vice President of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives Lisa Jackson said in a statement. “The Apple Developer Academy is designed to inspire a new and more diverse group of entrepreneurs and app developers, supporting them with the skills and resources to pursue careers in today's digital workforce.”

Apple has academies in Brazil, Italy and Indonesia. The Detroit academy will be the first of its kind in the U.S. 

“As a dynamic and resilient city, Detroit is the perfect place for the first Apple Developer Academy in the US, and we are thrilled to partner with Michigan State on this project,” Jackson said.

Detroit was selected as the host city in order to empower young Black entrepreneurs, creators and coders in the city and across the state of Michigan, as part of Apple’s Racial Equity and Justice Initiative, led by Jackson.

“I think it's a huge win for Detroit, and what it represents for Detroit is Apple's recognition that the city of Detroit is an important city,” Associate Provost for Teaching, Learning, and Technology Jeff Grabill said. “...For Apple, the designation of Detroit, represents a pretty significant investment on their part, and the identification of Detroit as a city worth investing in.”

Students can apply regardless of academic background and are admitted following an exam process. The academy will be tuition-free and will focus on recruiting students from Detroit and Michigan.

“We need to meet learners where they are, and provide them with career and job-relevant opportunities, but also opportunities that don't require them to come to East Lansing for four or five years to get a degree,” Grabill said.

Students can choose a shorter 30-day program before deciding if they want to continue into the full 12-month long program. Apple expects the academy’s programs to reach close to 1,000 students each year. 

Grabill said they are working to open up the program for MSU students to use as part of their degree program, regardless of major or college, as well.

“(MSU is) the state university of Michigan, and so one of our responsibilities as we move further into the 21st century, is to identify new ways in which we serve the educational needs of the people of the state of Michigan,” Grabill said. “We've traditionally served the educational needs of the state of Michigan through the traditional degree programs in East Lansing, through our extension service, which puts educational opportunities in every single county, and as we look towards what human beings need in the 21st century, they're going to need an education that is different than we've done it before.”

Apple worked with MSU to develop an iOS Design Lab on campus for MSU students to experience app development while learning the basics of Swift coding, app design and app marketing.  

“They supported us in the development and the opportunity and so we demonstrated to Apple that we were really good, creative and innovative educational partner,” Grabill said. “And so when they started to think about where they might want to put a Developer Academy in North America, we were top of lists for them with regard to our innovation, our creativity and our commitment.”

Their previous collaboration and the opportunity in Michigan led to the selection of MSU as a partner for the academy.

“We’re grateful for the partnership this opportunity brings to Michigan,” MSU President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. said in a press release. “Apple is the perfect partner for us to help educate and prepare a diverse generation of coders, tech leaders and entrepreneurs, and Detroit — Michigan’s innovative technology and premier urban hub — is the right location for this academy. There is tremendous potential for this project moving forward and we’re excited to get started.”  


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