From combat boots to computers: Eleven Fifty Academy offers options for veterans, additions to GI Bill cover expenses

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Cody Boillot always liked computers, sometimes even building his own. But the 35-year-old Noblesville resident didn’t pursue a career in computers until recently.

First, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 2001 as a boom operator, where he refueled planes while in the air.

Having enlisted shortly before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Boillot completed several tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. He logged 2,500 combat hours in the air.

Veteran Cody Boillot attended Eleven Fifty Academy because he wanted to learn a technical skill. He graduated in October and has been hired as a software development engineer and tester for Cognizant, a global company.

After serving, Boillot volunteered as a teacher in Thailand and Cambodia. After that, he got involved in the corporate world.

“I didn’t like the corporate world environment,” he said. “I felt like I needed a hard skill.”

Boillot’s wife, Ellen, worked as an interior designer and was designing John Qualls’ home. Qualls is president of the coding school Eleven Fifty Academy in Fishers. Qualls and Boillot spoke, and Boillot enrolled in the academy. He graduated last month and already has a job as a software development engineer and tester for Cognizant, a global company that provides IT services. 

“I had zero coding experience prior to this, but I’ve always been technical,” he said. “I love technology but had zero coding experience and now I’m a junior developer.”

Boillot said Eleven Fifty Academy offers more coding experience in 12 weeks than a computer science degree does in four years. 

Boillot used his GI Bill for his undergrad, but recent additions to the bill are covering expenses and tuition for coding boot camps like Eleven Fifty Academy, making it possible for veterans to transition from the service into the coding world.

“The fact they have the GI Bill available is a big deal,” Boillot said. “The GI Bill is so crucial for veterans transitioning out of the military because many military positions don’t have a civilian counterpart. It’s crucial that veterans get training in a new field in order to continue with a career providing for their families.”

Drew Blincoe used the Forever GI Bill to attend Eleven Fifty Academy. He will graduate Nov. 16. (Submitted photo)

Drew Blincoe  of Evansville is a veteran utilizing the additions to the GI Bill. Blincoe, 27, served in the Marines from 2012 to 2016 and taught himself how to code. He heard about coding boot camps such as Eleven Fifty Academy through his own research. The GI Bill updates allowed him to attend the academy free while providing him with a living allowance. He will graduate Nov. 16 trained in JavaScript, which he hopes to use to create his own business. 

“Basically, it’s perfect for me since I didn’t have the money to drop,” he said. “It’s a pretty significant amount to come here, but with the Forever GI Bill, it allows me to come here completely for free, and I also get a paid living allowance.”

Blincoe wants to eventually run his own online company and sell merchandise and raise funds to train dogs to provide to veterans with PTSD. With his Eleven Fifty Academy training, he can build his own website and maintain it.

For more, visit elevenfifty.org.

Eleven Fifty Academy offers an alternative path

Eleven Fifty Academy President John Qualls said most people in the military are already on an alternative path. So, when they’re discharged, Eleven Fifty Academy offers an alternative path to a career in lieu a traditional four-year college degree.

“In the tech field, can you do the work is the most important piece,” Qualls said. “(Veterans) bring a certain level of ‘can-do’ to the table that employers are looking for today.”

Qualls said military families can take coding skills with them anywhere.

“We feel that coding is this mobile skill. Yu can take it anywhere with you versus other skills that are very regional,” Qualls said.

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