ASU club builds community for online students studying software engineering

CodeDevils allows online students to collaborate on software projects

Evan Borchert is 39 with two kids and lives in North Carolina. He is also a senior studying software engineering and the co-founder of an online student club.

CodeDevils, which was founded by Borchert and Stephanie Miranda, is an online club intended to help students going through ASU's online software engineering degree.

Borchert said that when he joined the online program in 2014, he was looking for a club to join to work on projects outside of class. When he found out that one didn’t exist, he and Miranda founded the club in September 2016. 

Miranda, a junior studying software engineering, said being an online student can be difficult, and that she was looking for something to do outside of class. 

“When I came to ASU, I started asking around for clubs in the online community, because we really miss out on that face-to-face interaction and nothing really was out there,” she said.

The club is currently run by junior Kristofer Hoadley, who lives in Illinois. Hoadley said now that he is president, he is focusing more on collaboration and less on projects. 

“I have been a little more focused on the communication portion, providing people a place to have those conversations of 'Hey I'm struggling with something, can someone help me?'" he said. 

Hoadley said members are from all over the world, so not everyone can attend the weekly online meetings.

To address this problem they use the communication app Slack, which allows members to message about various topics in a designated channel. The club also publishes its weekly meetings online for other members to see and comment on.

Aside from meetings, the club also works on projects together online. Last year, its members made an Android app to help people make flashcards and study, Hoadley said.

Hoadley said he chose to attend online school because of his job at Starbucks, which has a relationship with ASU online that pays for his education.

Miranda said one of their biggest challenges is finding a time that works for everyone.

“We are all over the world,” she said. “I'm in California. Our president is in Illinois, so is our webmaster. Our treasurer is in Dubai, and our secretary is in North Carolina.”

Borchert said that when the club was founded, there were around 15 members, and they now have around 200 in their Slack channel. 

Borchert said online students miss out on a lot, including career fairs, another reason for co-founding the club.

“We get all the same emails (on-campus students) get,” he said. “When there's a swarm of bees on campus or something like that we get those emails, and I chuckle to myself."

He said that when online students get emails about career fairs or job opportunities, they feel like they are missing out. Because of this, part of the club's mission is to help members edit their resumes and look for jobs. 

Miranda said it is strange having not met many of her fellow classmates in person.

“Evan and I have worked really closely, and we live on opposite sides of the U.S.,” she said. “It's weird to know I'm friends with somebody who I've never physically met. If we saw each other in public we may not even recognize each other although we have conversations almost every day.”

Borchert said he chose the ASU program because ASU is a “brick-and-mortar” university.

"When you get the degree, it doesn't say ASU online,” he said. “It says software engineering from ASU, and that feels solid to me, better than those other programs out there.”

Miranda said the club has given her a sense of community, despite the fact that she hasn’t met many of her classmates.

"Being able to really apply what we are learning is really nice, and having a sense of community with my fellow students," she said.


Reach the reporter at ajhowar6@asu.edu and follow @andrew_howard4 on Twitter.

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