Students gain high-demand technology skills through ETSU Innovation Lab member

Published 2:05 pm Wednesday, June 16, 2021

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JOHNSON CITY – Cloud Wise Academy, an East Tennessee State University Innovation Lab affiliate member, recently concluded a six-week-long course designed to teach valuable coding skills and train students for technology professions.
The Website Coding for Beginners course was the first coding experience for most students, and they learned to create websites with HTML, JavaScript and CSS. Through this course and others, Cloud Wise Academy’s mission is to train and equip the region’s workforce with online marketing and technology skills. Additionally, the course aligns with the Innovation Lab’s mission to champion entrepreneurs and promote innovation.
“The way we see it, each person who learns these high-demand skills has a chance at a new career and the ability to impact our local business community positively,” said Joe Mckenna, founder of Cloud Wise Academy. “The types of jobs created by this situation are almost endless.”
Ten students completed Website Coding for Beginners, and each person brought a different experience level and motivation to learn coding.
Waylon Deskins is employed as a graphic and web designer in Abingdon, Virginia. He enrolled in Website Coding for Beginners to expand his skill set.
“I felt like web coding was really my Achilles’ heel,” he said. “It was the only thing I wasn’t really comfortable working on, so I thought, ‘If I could just get that under my belt and get comfortable learning to read that language, it would really benefit me and my career.’”
Deskins hopes to use his new coding skills to eventually create a freelance website development business, and he used the final assignment in the course, building a website from code, to create the beginnings of his professional portfolio.
Luke Voorhees took the course virtually from Elizabeth City, North Carolina, where he is stationed with the U.S. Coast Guard. After more than 20 years of service, primarily as an avionics electrician, he plans to retire next year and move back to Jonesborough, Tennessee.
“The world is constantly changing,” Voorhees said. “There are new and better ways of doing things, and you really have to stay up to speed. They might change the whole language of how something in code is written. It’s definitely something you have to stay on top of.”
For Voorhees, the course was an opportunity to explore his interests and gain more knowledge about the current technology field as he plans for his next career.
Other students, like Mara Sluder, enrolled in the course to start thinking about college and career opportunities.
Sluder is a 15-year-old student at the Morrison School in Bristol, Virginia. She has several artistic and media-related interests, including a photography business she runs on Etsy. The Website Coding for Beginners course provided her an opportunity to learn more about coding, which she says is an interest she may pursue in college one day.
“You want to be dedicated to something, but you also need the ambition and creativity,” she said. “My favorite thing about coding is probably the artwork that goes into it. I did several sketches for another project I’m working on, and the creativity I learned from coding is what inspired me.”
Nathan Noble, the course instructor, said his favorite part about teaching the course through Cloud Wise Academy is how students with varied interests can find inspiration from learning to code.
“It could change your life,” he said. “I like being a part of a class that’s a vehicle for that – working with someone, giving them just a few tools and then they can assemble those together. It can make a huge difference in someone’s life.”
Cloud Wise Academy classes are held in the evenings as well as virtually and in-person, so students with jobs and families can conveniently attend instruction. Courses are taught by experts in the field, who use those skills in their professions. Upcoming sessions include the WordPress for Beginners Workshop, which begins Sept. 13, and Introduction to Mobile Development using Google Flutter, beginning Sept. 14.
For more information about Cloud Wise Academy and future courses, visit, or email Mckenna at or at 530-515-9851.
The ETSU Innovation Lab is a high-tech business incubator that assists aspiring entrepreneurs from concept through commercialization. For more information, visit or contact Dr. Audrey Depelteau, director of the Innovation Lab, at

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