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Computer Science Makes an IMPACT
Thursday, January 16, 2014
With Siena students on break, the College’s computer science department opened its labs and classrooms to dozens of Capital Region high school students for the annual IMPACT Program. Students participated in a series of activities and some friendly competition designed to teach them about various areas of computer science.
“It’s kind of like school almost, but, you know, more fun because we’re doing something a bit different than you usually do in school,” said Tech Valley High School student Justin Canaperi.
IMPACT Program Coordinator Dan DiTursi said computer science is a rapidly growing field. He notes that over the next decade, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects more than a million new job openings in math and computer science-related fields. DiTursi added that there aren’t nearly enough graduates to fill those positions.
“High schools generally don’t have computer science offerings and we want to try and broaden the available pool of students who might go into computer science,” DiTursi said.
DiTursi and fellow Siena faculty members are teaching the students about various areas of computer science, including software engineering, graphic information systems and computer graphics. The idea is to show them that the field requires communication, collaboration and analytical thinking.
“This program really shows students that there are a lot of different things that you can do in computer science that really aren’t related to programming but still are related to areas that they are interested in,” said Pauline White ’94, a math and computer science teacher at Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School.
Another goal of the IMPACT Program, according to DiTursi, is to dispel the stereotypes associated with the “nerd” working all alone in front of a computer screen.
“I thought it was more that you just sit behind a computer and type in all these programs, but there’s a lot more to it where you can use a creative side and you can also be, like, working with a team,” said Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School Student Natalie Albright.
The IMPACT Program connects students who excel in math but are not familiar with computer science, especially young women, to this rapidly growing but still male-dominated career field. This career exploration program could have a profound IMPACT on their future studies and propel them toward a fulfilling field where job opportunities await.
Contact: Ken Jubie
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