ACUITUS

OUR PROGRAMS


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ITs design, operate and maintain computer networks, and all devices, large and small, connected to these networks.

Creating an expert in IT requires three fundamental elements. It isn’t about lectures, projects, text books and grades. 

First, becoming an expert begins with accumulating ten years of challenging work experience, where you solve the hard problems, on your own, being transformed in the process. 

Second, is developing a real understanding of the hard ideas in the field, along with learning how to think critically and solve hard problems – so you have confidence you can solve any problem. 

And third, the only way to acquire the experience and develop the understanding is to have an exceptional mentor at your elbow continually, not to give you answers but to challenge you, always advancing your understanding.  The result is transformational.

We know how to compress ten years of experience and learning into five months, and provide every student with their own exceptional mentor.

The graduates of this program have transitioned into hundreds of companies, in a broad spectrum of industries and industry leaders – Cisco, PayPal, Amazon, EMC, Palo Alto Networks, Booz Alan, Brocade, eBay, Microsoft, Akamai to name but a few.  Many are in senior level positions, now running teams and responsible for hiring – asking for hundreds more of our experts per year.  

We know what we are doing, we have the theory, data and results to back up our claims, and we deeply believe in what we are doing.  There is a cost for the program, but you only contribute to our effort if you get a job and then only for a fixed period of time.  So the risk is on us; we only succeed when you succeed.

Education for most of us works poorly.  If you want to do something very different, if you want to start a career and not just get an entry-level job, if you want to learn to see the world the way other experts see the world, look at what we are doing.  This is the way we need to prepare for the future, the way we will prepare for the future.

1-TO-1 MENTORING / FULL TIME

HANDS-ON / IMMERSIVE

UNDERSTANDING / NEVER LOST

THINKING CRITICALLY / SOLVING PROBLEMS

A JOURNEY FROM ENTRY TO EXPERT, IN MONTHS

To be part of our incredible IT community

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To be part of our incredible IT school


The Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) is the nation’s premiere research organization.  DARPA developed the internet, stealth technology, GPS, and Acuitus education.

In the past 50 years, there have been more than 500 attempts to improve education worldwide.  Essentially all failed, a few showed minor gains (a half grade-point).  Acuitus showed stunning gains.

Working with DARPA for 10 years, we focused on learning how to take a single student, but any student, and transform them from a high-school graduate to an expert in their field quickly – in months rather than years.

Key ideas we developed include: learning how to compress ten years of learning and experience into 5 months; having the student tutored by 20 of the nation’s top experts one-to-one; focusing on understanding not memorizing, making the hard subjects straightforward; never allowing the student to be lost; and keeping the work highly immersive, continually solving hard problems, but with the tutor always at your elbow - not to give you answers but to give you insight.

The graduates were intensely evaluated by DARPA, the Pentagon and the Navy, in competitions that lasted 40 hours a week, for five weeks.  The graduates of one-to-one tutoring with the top experts performed as well as the Navy’s best, men and women with ten years of experience.

This approach, live expert tutors, doesn’t scale; the program was extremely expensive, the nation’s experts could never handle even a few students.  In the second step, we moved the school over to an Artificial Intelligence (AI) platform, called the Digital Tutor.  This platform was designed to provide the same student experience as working with exceptional tutors, who never give answers, often ask questions, always advancing the student’s understanding,  different for every student.   

With the teaching being done by the Digital Tutor, DARPA, the Pentagon and the Navy again ran extensive competitions to evaluate the graduates.  This time the graduates dominated, significantly outperforming the Navy’s “go-to” ITs, all with ten years of experience.  The results were stunning.

Profoundly different, this school has been designed from the ground up to be dramatically more effective in teaching beginning students to be exceptional in their field from the moment of graduation; to be critical thinkers, with excellent problem-solving skills, able to solve challenging problems by thinking them through rather than guessing at solutions or trying old remedies without understanding.


In a Pilot Program, sponsored by the VA Innovation Center, Acuitus educated 100 Veterans using the Digital Tutor.  Incoming students were unemployed or seriously underemployed, almost none had a technical background, prior education was evenly spread among high-school graduates, some college, or a 4-year degree.

All but three graduated on-time; the three drops were for non-academic, medical reasons.  40% were employed at graduation; only two were unemployed at six months.  The objective of this program was to start graduates in careers, not just get jobs.  The average salary increase has been 15% each year since graduation, with the industry averaging 4%.

Initial salary offers were correlated with level of prior education, but these differences disappeared by the third year.

Many graduates started in senior-level positions; most are now in senior-level positions.  Veterans significantly benefit from effectively combining their military leadership with deep civilian technical experience. 


Acuitus provided initial IT training (A-school) for 800 Sailors across three years.  As with DARPA and the VA Pilot, the school was designed to transform high-school students into senior-level ITs quickly.  This advanced school was half the duration of the Navy’s traditional entry-level school built around CISCO and Microsoft’s best curriculum.  Again, the Digital Tutor graduation rates were extremely high (no drops for academic reasons). 

Graduates were typically assigned to the Fleet, generally becoming the “go-to” IT on their ship within months; graduates typically advance through the ranks in half the time (PMW 160).


The mathematics program focuses on underserved students who are in 8th-grade, taking Algebra, but generally performing at the 4th-grade level.  Their arithmetic is unreliable, fractions rudimentary, they have a weak understanding of decimals, no facility with expressions and no number sense.

The objective of this Acuitus program is to prepare these students to excel in mathematics in college.  This means re-teaching these students third through 7th-grade math, have them master Algebra I and II, complete the 8th-grade Common Core curriculum and be able to get 700 out of 800 on the mathematics component of the SAT exam - in 8th-grade

In a recent cohort, students began the year with a D+ GPA; none met the Common Core standard.  At the end of 8th-grade, the class GPA was an A-, with the lowest being a B-; 33% Met Standard on the standardized SBAC exam where the state and county average for the demographic was 13%; and 85% tested out of 9th-grade mathematics in high school, advancing to the following grade.

This work was partially supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Department of Commerce.