Tech en­thu­si­asts pop­u­lar­ize IT in war-af­fected Don­bas

Kyiv Post - - Lifestyle - BY ANNA YAKUTENKO [email protected]

KRAMATORSK, Ukraine — Be­fore Rus­sia’s war stormed into Kramatorsk in Donetsk Oblast in 2014, Sergiy Gakov was teach­ing en­gi­neer­ing at a local univer­sity. Three years later, he man­ages one of the few IT hubs in Don­bas that teaches pro­gram­ming and holds IT events and lec­tures.

For Kramatorsk, an in­dus­trial city that has for decades been re­ly­ing on three ma­chin­ery plants to pro­vide work­places, mod­ern IT ed­u­ca­tion gives the city’s youth a chance for the bet­ter fu­ture.

A city of around 160,000 peo­ple, Kramatorsk is lo­cated some 80 kilo­me­ters from the front lines of Rus­sia’s war on Ukraine in the Don­bas. Now the ad­min­is­tra­tive cen­ter of Donetsk Oblast, Kramatorsk was one of the first cities oc­cu­pied by the Rus­sian-led sep­a­ratists in April, 2014. It was lib­er­ated by Ukrainian army three months later.

The busi­ness part­ner of 36-yearold Gakov, Nikita Yery­omin, 35, says that it’s easy for many to suc­cess­fully change their job from a ma­chin­ery fac­tory to IT due to their tech­ni­cal back­ground.

“If many peo­ple in Kramatorsk worked in IT, they would be­come a sort of a fish­ing rod that helps to catch fish; they would at­tract more money to the city and in­crease the over­all well-be­ing.”

Their IT hub, called Geek Bunker, was launched in 2016 thanks to the fund­ing from pri­vate in­vestors, in­clud­ing the Kramatorsk-based out­source com­pany Quart-Soft Ukraine, which now plans to ex­pand the hub and add a co-work­ing space.

“In other cities there are var­i­ous con­fer­ences and mee­tups where peo­ple can com­mu­ni­cate with each other and learn some­thing new. In Kramatorsk, there is also an IT con­fer­ence once a year, but it’s not enough,” said Yery­omin.

Geek Bunker of­fers var­i­ous lec­tures by Kramatorsk IT ex­perts, free pro­gram­ming classes, and has a small lab­o­ra­tory with a 3D printer.

“Kramatorsk was ba­si­cally a work­ing town that emerged from two tech­ni­cal star­tups,” Gakov joked, re­fer­ring to the ma­chin­ery fac­to­ries that were built in Kramatorsk in the 19th cen­tury.

“But the war gave the city a huge push,” Yery­omin said. “Now, the fo­cus slowly moves from big in­dus­trial man­u­fac­tur­ing to small busi­nesses and star­tups.”

Pop­u­lar­iz­ing IT

The big and light-filled room of Geek Bunker with a pa­per screen for pre­sen­ta­tions is a hid­den gem amid Soviet-style build­ings and sign­boards of­fer­ing cheap va­ca­tion in an­nexed Crimea penin­sula.

Yery­omin and Gakov said that the in­dus­trial Kramatorsk fol­lows the al­lUkrainian trend with more and more peo­ple want­ing to be­come in­volved in IT be­cause of the high salaries.

For those, Yery­omin and Gakov, to­gether with the Kyiv-based non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tion Brain Bas­ket, held a five-month course of cod­ing called #CS50 in Kramatorsk.

By the end of the course, the par­tic­i­pants pro­duced three projects — an in­for­ma­tion sys­tem that helps to track pub­lic trans­port, an on­line ser­vice for ar­rang­ing doc­tor ap­point­ments, and an on­line cal­en­dar of cul­tural events.

In sum­mer, Yery­omin and Gakov taught kids pro­gram­ming dur­ing the sum­mer camp IT For Kids, which was or­ga­nized by an­other Kramatorsk non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tion Free Ua. Gakov is also giv­ing lec­tures in schools about jobs that will be pop­u­lar in the fu­ture to pro­mote cod­ing among kids.

Now they are choos­ing par­tic­i­pants for the se­cond run of #CS50 course and hold an­other course for kids, Learn Pro­gram­ming by Play­ing.

Yery­omin, who is also a teacher in the local Don­bas State En­gi­neer­ing Academy, said that the main vis­i­tors of IT cour­ses are teens and 30-year-olds who want to switch to IT from other jobs. Many of those who de­cide to change their ca­reer have a pro­found tech­ni­cal ed­u­ca­tion, be­cause the city is known for its fac­to­ries pro­duc­ing heavy ma­chin­ery and jewelry.

At the same time, many young tal­ented peo­ple still leave Kramatorsk to pur­sue job op­por­tu­ni­ties in other big cities.

Fast tech­nol­ogy train

Apart from teach­ing oth­ers, soft­ware pro­gram­mer Yery­omin and en­gi­neer Gakov are also col­lab­o­rat­ing on their other startup — a cloud tech­nol­ogy that al­lows work­ing with var­i­ous equip­ment re­motely.

So far, they use a cloud tech­nol­ogy to re­motely work with 3D print­ers made by Gakov and an­other Kramatorsk en­tre­pre­neur Bo­hdan Trys­tan.

Gakov and Yery­omin want to co­op­er­ate with fac­to­ries in Kramatorsk to use a cloud tech­nol­ogy for re­mote con- trol there, how­ever, so far man­agers at the fac­to­ries have been “treat­ing it like a fic­tion story,” ac­cord­ing to Gakov.

Gakov is also work­ing in a startup that is pro­duc­ing in­ex­pen­sive pros­the­sis for am­putees, the parts of which are mostly printed by a 3D printer. The cost of such pros­the­sis varies from $100 to $700, ac­cord­ing to Gakov. He said that the com­pany didn’t find much in­ter­est for the pros­the­sis in Ukraine, but plans to ex­port them to East Asia.

This Septem­ber, Gakov and Yery­omin pre­sented their printer that sup­ports cloud tech­nol­ogy in Kyiv dur­ing the Skhid-Ek­spo (EastExpo) ex­hi­bi­tion of suc­cess­ful en­trepreneur­s from Don­bas.

Both be­lieve that their in­ven­tions re­flect lat­est trends in tech­nol­ogy.

“Ukraine usu­ally in­vests in a train that has al­ready left. Ev­ery­one wants to climb into this mov­ing train, but it’s not pos­si­ble any­more,” Gakov said. “I be­lieve in the fu­ture of our project, be­cause I think that it’s a train that hasn’t yet left the plat­form.”

(Volodymyr Petrov)

Sergiy Gakov (L), Nikita Yeroymin (C) and Maxim Pono­marov (R) talk in the lab­o­ra­tory with 3D print­ers in IT-hub Geek Bunker in Kramatorsk, Donetsk Oblast. They teach kids and adults pro­gram­ming, hop­ing to bring in­no­va­tions to the in­dus­trial city.

(GeekBunker­UA/ Face­book)

Chil­dren learn the ba­sics of 3D mod­el­ing in Geek Bunker in Kramatorsk, a city in Donetsk Oblast.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ukraine

© PressReader. All rights reserved.