France's free coding school is coming to Silicon Valley

You can sign up to learn at '42' today.

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Martin Bureau/AFP/Getty Images
Martin Bureau/AFP/Getty Images

For 3 years, Paris residents wanting to learn programming have had access to 42, a school that offers a radical approach to technical education: there are no teachers, no lesson plans... and no tuition fees. As long as you're between 18 and 30 and thrive in a 4-week coding challenge, you can spend 3 to 5 years mastering software development at no cost and on very flexible terms. Sound good? Well, you won't have to move to France to give it a shot. The 42 team has announced that it's opening a 200,000 square foot Silicon Valley-area campus (in Fremont, to be exact), with applications beginning immediately. The first class starts in November.

If you ask the school, this is about fixing a skill imbalance in the US. While the country has taken some steps to improve computer education, 42 believes the American educational system "deprives" companies of the programming-savvy people it needs to innovate. You'd ideally get a steady stream of highly motivated coders ready to cross San Francisco Bay and join startups.

It's hard to say how well 42's method works when few if any of its Parisian students have even graduated, but the concept (created by Xavier Niel, who founded the French telecom Free) may not be that far-fetched. As our TechCrunch colleagues point out, some existing students are so determined that they sleep in the hallway -- while that's not exactly healthy, it shows a kind of commitment that you don't always see in college. If you see a sudden surge in young Bay-area tech talent a few years from now, you'll know who to thank.

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