Meet our Instructors, Mentors, and Admin Team

As much as we love our space, and as proud as we are of our curricula and class materials, Claim Academy wouldn't be Claim Academy without our team of rockstars teaching class, running the daily operations, and mentoring students. The people below make things happen, and you should get to know them!

Andrew Benz

.NET instructor

Andrew currently works as a .NET developer at Shipworks in downtown St. Louis. As a contributor to the .NET source, Andy has a uninque view of what's under the hood of the .NET framework. His personal projects include working with ASP.NET in a linux environment and contributing to the open-sourcing of the .NET framework for use across platforms. Andy has taught VB.NET to students in a traditional setting, and he looks forward to working with Claim Academy students in a more personal setting.

Tim Ehrhart

.NET instructor

Tim has spent 14 years as a software developer, the last few years with Asynchrony in St. Louis. From graphics engines to enterprise-level eCommerce sites, Tim has done it all. He's ready to show students what can be done with the .NET framework in an Agile and test-driven environment, making sure that every student is ready for the fast-paced environment of a modern software development team.

Alan Long

.NET instructor

Alan currently works at Stifel financial and as a co-founder of Lasunas, a web-development team focusing on .NET and Javascript development. Alan previously taught at Southeast Missouri State University. Alan is excited to bring his front-end web experience to the .NET team, covering ASP.NET and future integrations with Javascript supported by the .NET framework.

Siddique Hameed

Java instructor

Siddique has been programming professionally for 17 years, in a variety of programming languages, frameworks, and technologies. He currently works for MasterCard during the day, and spends his spare time mentoring FIRST robotics competitive teams and hacking Raspberry Pis. He's excited to introduce Java students to the wide variety of tools available to integrate their ideas with mobile applications, enterprise services, and new trends like the Internet of Things.

Vinod Vydier

Java instructor

With 22 years in field, Vinod is a leader in the world of Java. Vinod spends his daytime hours working for Java's parent company Oracle, teaching and training users on products at every level of the Java stack. Vinod is excited to impart upon Claim Academy students the full breadth, depth, history, and future of the Java suite of tools.

Nick Kraftor

Java instructor

From vintage video game console programming to enterprise-scale mobile applications, Nick is always programming. Currently working with Enterprise Holdings as a Java developer, Nick got his start in Physics and as an educator at the high school level. He's looking forward to sharing his enthusiasm for application development with Claim Academy students!

Arjun Venkataswamy

curriculum developer and mentor

Arjun is the curriculum manager and web devlopment instructor at Starter League in Chicago, now bringing his expertise to St. Louis. Arjun is a former high school teacher who has developed curricula for students of all ages, from middle-schoolers to adults. He's passionate about helping students recognize and realize their potential as technology creators. Arjun is also a well-established Ruby developer in the Chicago area.

Alex Pearson

Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Outreach

Alex is in charge of the day-to-day operations at Claim Academy, from working with instructors, to interviewing students, to managing the Claim Academy blog and website, to marketing and recruitment efforts, to program and curriculum development. Alex has a proven track record of building successful businesses in multiple industries, and he's now combining that business expertise with his passion for programming and web development to make Claim Academy the top training program for St. Louis developers.

William Fink

.NET curriculum advisor, Microsoft partner, and student mentor

Bill works for Microsoft as a local technical evangelist, and is bringing his experience with the .NET framework to Claim Academy's Windows-focused courses. Bill also has years of experience teaching students as an adjunct professor at Southwest Illinois Technical College, and has been heavily involved in the tech industry as a consultant for RGA and Daugherty Business Solutions.

Sheila Burkett

programming mentor

Sheila has been programming for St. Louis businesses since 1988, and has been active in teaching programming to others as a guest lecturer at the University of Missouri St. Louis, as a mentor for the St. Louis IT Entrepreur Network (ITEN),a team member of Bounce Back St. Louis, President of Tuxedo Park Management, and now a managing partner of Spry Digital. Sheila is excited to bring her expertise to the classroom through guest lectures, pair programming, and indivudal mentorship.

Yomi Toba

programming mentor

Yomi is a co-founder of successful St. Louis start-ups Lockerdome and Pushup Social. He currently serves as the CTO of pushup, and will use his combination of business expertise and technical experience to guide students towards their next career in the St. Louis tech sector.

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Brad Urani

programming mentor

Brad Urani is a software engineer and veteran of 5 St. Louis start-ups, including Upside, Pushup Social, and Cat5 Commerce. He has experience in financial software, ecommerce, games, industrial process control systems, social networking, and educational software. His insights as a team leader and head of engineering will help students better understand the top-level processes behind their individual projects.

Ola Ayeni

business mentor

Ola is an Arch Grant winner and owner of successful St. Louis start-ups Eateria and Claim. Ola is now using the relationships he's built in St. Louis to help provide scholarships and job opportunities to graduates of Claim Academy's programs. You'll also see Ola helping students with the soft skills that they'll need to master not just the craft of programming, but the business of software development.

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