Artificial intelligence (AI) in software engineering is here – and here to stay. For some, this provokes anxiety, but for others, it’s viewed as an opening to new opportunities.
A recent report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the “increased demand for software developers, software quality assurance analysts, and testers will stem from the continued expansion of software development for artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, and other automation applications.”
And this growth spans across industries, as there’s been significant growth in available jobs outside of what’s considered traditional tech. More and more companies are expanding their tech capabilities, which requires them to build development teams that can build necessary software, innovate, and compete. Many of our graduates are working as software engineers in healthcare, manufacturing, real estate, entertainment, and several other industries.
Within this framework, the expanded use of AI tools can both complement and boost the role of the software engineer, particularly when engineers learn how to use these tools with care and responsibility.
In this post, learn how we teach the use of AI tools in our coding bootcamps, how software engineers are already using them on the job, and how learning to use them effectively from experienced practitioners will put you in a position to excel in your career both near- and long-term.
The time is right to learn AI tools for software engineering
Course Report recently published an article looking at the 2024 tech hiring market. They interviewed Zubair Desai, Galvanize Curriculum & Instruction, Lead Software Engineer. He discussed the importance of training to be a well-rounded software engineer who has an understanding of how AI tools fit into the wider job and industry.
According to Zubair, this means learning about AI tools as you’re also developing other vital skills related to the software engineering craft.
“If you deliberately improve your critical thinking/problem-solving skills, software engineering fundamentals, and teamwork experience, you can position yourself as someone who can safely leverage the latest technologies – including generative AI – many times over compared to someone who is only able to highlight their programming knowledge,” he said.
And the timing is right to start learning now.
“This was the year, so far…where the general, average tech person went from taking AI not that seriously, to taking it pretty seriously,” said Sam Altman, OpenAI CEO, in an interview on the Hard Fork podcast.
Learning how to responsibly use leading AI tools will put you at the forefront of exciting technological innovation – just as the profession (and the world) evolves to use AI more and more.
How AI tools are already being used on the job
Software engineering is about solving complex problems – and many professional software engineers are already using AI tools to help.
In the 2023 Stack Overflow Developer Survey, 70% (of more than 37,000 respondents) said they either plan to use AI during development, or they’re currently using it to write and debug code, document, test, and more.
But there are limitations to consider, according to Bart Dorsey, Galvanize Coding Bootcamp Instructor. In a recent panel conversation about the effects of AI on software engineering, he mentioned the importance of human creativity.
“These tools can be useful for finding ways to do things that everybody does the same way, because there’s only one way to do it,” he said. “But when you start getting into building an application and it needs to be a specific thing and nobody’s ever really done it before, that’s when it’s going to fall apart, because the tools can’t be creative. They can’t come up with new ideas because they don’t think.”
An article in BrainHub expanded on this idea, writing that while AI tools are helpful, and even transformative in some ways, humans are required for complex problem solving, creativity and innovation, ethical considerations, adaptability and context understanding, collaboration, and communication.
“There’s a lot of fear about the machines coming to take our jobs,” said Bart. “I don’t think that’s going to happen. Instead, I think that the tools are just going to make our jobs easier.”
Another survey, this one from GitHub, shows that belief to be widespread – 41% (of 500 professional software engineers) said they believe AI coding tools can help prevent burnout in their careers, and 57% said they believe these same tools can help them improve their coding skills.
How we teach AI tools
In 2023, we announced the addition of the AI-productivity tool, GitHub Copilot, to all of our coding bootcamp curriculum. Students have quickly taken to the tool, using it to expand their understanding and increase their productivity and coding confidence.
“These are tools that can help us build better stuff, but you have to know how to use the tool in order for the tool to produce something good,” said Bart.
With that in mind, we teach students how to integrate GitHub Copilot into their workflow after they’ve learned how to be proficient programmers without it. Students then use the tool to build a portfolio project to demonstrate their ability to evaluate and blend AI-generated code with their own.
Instructors like Bart are industry veterans and practitioners who have managed the responsible use of productivity enhancement tools throughout their careers, which puts them in an excellent position to teach them to others.
Our Career Services team also has the professional experience to teach AI tools from a career-search perspective. Led by Director of Career Services Lena Johnson, the team uses a tool called Hiration to help students and graduates find software engineering roles.
“We now offer our students a one-year premium membership to Hiration, a platform using AI to optimize LinkedIn profiles, customize resumes, and ensure overall application alignment,” Lena explained to Course Report. “Hiration’s AI features go beyond the application phase, providing interview preparation support by offering feedback on video interview responses, including the quality of both content and non-verbal behaviors. Empowering students with AI-driven tools enhances their readiness and confidence in the job search.”
AI is here to stay; it’s time to embrace it
We know that generative AI will continue to grow, shift, and change, and we’re committed to teaching the latest and best in our curriculum. This moment in time is an opportunity for software engineers to embrace the idea and practice of lifelong learning and the need for adaptability.
By acquiring these skills, and cultivating this mindset, software engineers can position themselves to leverage AI and contribute effectively to the development of creative solutions across industries.
Learn more about how we teach AI (and a lot more) in our coding bootcamps.