Meteor at MEST: A framework as bold as the School

admin | Thursday, April 16th, 2015

MeteorJS, the open-source platform for building web apps, has made it into MEST’s classrooms.

 

Making the connection

I wasn’t sure whether I’d make it to the Bitcoin meetup in Berlin. I’m glad I did, because I got a chance to hear a previous tech fellow, Falk, give a presentation. Right at the end of his talk, he mentioned, “Oh, yeah, and if anyone wants to come teach in a startup school in Ghana, just talk to me.”

 
Go to Ghana and teach programming? I instantly knew I that I was going to do this.

 
A couple of weeks later I was invited to interview.

 

Meteor: My first tech love

 
I had discovered Meteor several months before and was already pretty adept at the framework. I was using it every day at my startup, Bitwa.la, and had just founded a web agency offering professional Meteor development.

 
I was astounded by the speed at which you could create. Now it was possible to turn an idea into product in less than a day. This was completely inline with the message of Eric Ries’ ‘The Lean Startup’ which I had begun treating as scripture: build an MPV and launch as fast as possible.

 
It doesn’t matter if it’s broken or half-finished. The most important thing is to validate your idea and get feedback at every stage.

 
Meteor let me do this and I was falling deeply in love with this powerful new tool.

 

The Ultimatum: Meteor or bust

I look back on my interview with the MEST team now and find it funny that I was nervous in front of the the people whom I now consider friends. I gave a brief introduction, but soon switched the focus from me to Meteor and why it should be taught at MEST.

 
Given my enthusiasm for the JavaScript framework, you might’ve thought that I was talking about a cure for cancer. I was convinced that Meteor was the next big thing for web apps and that it could help MEST’s students get ahead of the curve.

 
Eventually my interviewers posed the question: “If you couldn’t teach Meteor, would you be happy to teach something else instead?”

 
“No,” I thought, although I replied somewhat more politely. If I came to Ghana to teach, it would have to be Meteor.

Why Meteor is perfect for MEST

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If you’ve ever visited MEST, you can’t leave without noticing the crazy pace at which things happen. Students are expected to learn how to build startup in two years. The first years spend 50% of their time on tech and 50% on non-tech; time is very precious!

 
Meteor is a good match because it’s easy to learn and allows for very quick results.

 
Of the many benefits of Meteor, I would emphasize that it is:

  • Efficient – achieve a lot with little knowledge
  • Worthwhile – the skills you gain are modern and widely applicable
  • Intuitive – Meteor’s concepts are easy to grasp

 Most importantly, it’s fast.

 
The EITs (entrepreneurs in training) are encouraged to create fast and pivot faster. With more traditional frameworks, this is not easy. Meteor lends itself to rapid development and prototyping. It has a great feature where you can stage your project on Meteor’s servers. If I have an idea, I can get it up and running online in a matter of minutes for free.

 
Checkout e.g. popo.meteor.com – a game by a group of first year students

 

[Tweet “.@MeteorJS platform for web apps makes it’s way to .@MESTGhana classrooms by .@BenPeterJones”]

Building apps on day 1

We’re in our third week of Meteor and we’ve already seen some apps built. As I write, the EITs are participating in a mini-hackathon with the goal of ‘Making life better at MEST’. They’ll only have 6 hours total to come up with an idea and develop a working prototype that will be tested by their peers.

 

Community resources

Meteor has a small, yet awesome community. So far they’ve supported the EITs with:

 

[Tweet “Do you have software dev’t experience coding in agile languages & frameworks? Join @MESTGhana #teachAtMEST”]

These resources are helping the EITs and will continue to help those who continue with Meteor after we finish the syllabus. Meteor is extremely new and its community is small, enthusiastic and active.

 

Next steps

Will some of next years NewCo’s be built with Meteor? I hope so. Two of the EITs recently won the largest ever hackathon ever in Africa with a Meteor app and I’ve got the feeling that more success will follow.

 

Are you interested in teaching at MEST? or learning about Meteor?


Feel free to email me on ben@meteorfactory.io

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  • yogiben

    It was a great term. I hope Meteor continues way into MEST’s future!

  • Oga

    Learning meteor was awesome thanks to @yogiben:disqus