Upward mobility? There’s an app for that

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  • JUDD WILSON/Press University of Idaho Associate Vice President Dr. Charles Buck, left, said the Inspire Idaho program may help Idaho residents of all backgrounds overcome economic barriers to succeed in the knowledge-based economy. Innovation Collective founder Nick Smoot is at right.

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    “The Experience Tour” hits Coeur d’Alene March 27-28 at the Innovation Den, 418 E. Lakeside Ave. The free events will give participants hands-on experience with coding and robotics, said event organizers Dr. Charles Buck and Nick Smoot. (Judd Wilson/PRESS)

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    Idaho is the first state to bring free classes in app development to an entire state, said Innovation Collective founder Nick Smoot. National attention is focused on the ambitious project, spearheaded by Smoot and University of Idaho Associate Vice President Dr. Charles Buck. (Judd Wilson/PRESS)

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    App development is central to products in the 21st century economy such as drones, said Dr. Charles Buck and Nick Smoot. (Judd Wilson/PRESS)

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  • JUDD WILSON/Press University of Idaho Associate Vice President Dr. Charles Buck, left, said the Inspire Idaho program may help Idaho residents of all backgrounds overcome economic barriers to succeed in the knowledge-based economy. Innovation Collective founder Nick Smoot is at right.

  • 1

    “The Experience Tour” hits Coeur d’Alene March 27-28 at the Innovation Den, 418 E. Lakeside Ave. The free events will give participants hands-on experience with coding and robotics, said event organizers Dr. Charles Buck and Nick Smoot. (Judd Wilson/PRESS)

  • 2

    Idaho is the first state to bring free classes in app development to an entire state, said Innovation Collective founder Nick Smoot. National attention is focused on the ambitious project, spearheaded by Smoot and University of Idaho Associate Vice President Dr. Charles Buck. (Judd Wilson/PRESS)

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    App development is central to products in the 21st century economy such as drones, said Dr. Charles Buck and Nick Smoot. (Judd Wilson/PRESS)

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COEUR d’ALENE — Idahoans need not fear the future, say local innovation leaders Nick Smoot and Dr. Charles Buck.

The founder of Coeur d’Alene’s Innovation Collective and the head of the University of Idaho’s Coeur d’Alene Center want to help their neighbors from every demographic find a prosperous place in the future of work.

The two have partnered with corporate and government institutions on an ambitious plan to bring Idahoans from square one to complete development of an app. With annual revenues of $1.3 trillion and projections of growth to $6.3 trillion by 2021, the app development industry is already bigger than Hollywood, said Smoot. Most Idahoans think that sector has passed them by. However, he said there’s no reason why they can’t succeed just as much as people from other places.

The pair’s 20-city “Experience Tour” March 26-30 will bring their message of upward mobility through app development to every region of the state. Buck said each stop on the tour will offer locals about two hours of fundamentals in what apps are, and how each Idahoan can learn to write code, develop apps, and gain them a piece of that $6.3 trillion pie. Locals will have the chance to get hands-on experience with Apple Inc.’s Swift, Xcode and Playground products, and program Sphero Robots. Each tour event is free and open to the public.

“For most people it’s a pipe dream where they don’t have the tools” to succeed in a new, tech-based economy, Smoot said. “Here are the tools. Here are people who want to help you. Here are potential co-founders of your companies, taking the same class with you.”

Immediately following the tour, the pair aims to have groups of 20 people in each community start meeting regularly to learn and collaborate on app development. Each group will be assigned an expert in Swift who will organize and cheer on the group members as they develop the app. Most work will be done by group members at home, said Buck, with two or three group meetings per month. At the end of the 180-hour curriculum, each group will have completely developed an app, he said.

“There’s a lot of fear about the future of work in our communities. We want to replace that fear with hope and confidence,” Buck said. Participants will walk away feeling like they can understand and succeed in the new economy, he added. Much like the lending libraries of agricultural equipment that county extension offices have had for years, Smoot said lending libraries of computer equipment will be available to app development group members.

“The Experience Tour” will stop at the Innovation Den in Coeur d’Alene March 27 at 7 a.m. and March 28 at 2:30 p.m., and at Kellogg’s Airport Business Center March 28 at 7 a.m. Smoot said registration is available at inspireidaho.org, but walk-ins are welcome. For a full list of tour dates and locations, go to inspireidaho.org.

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