Program adds diversity to computer science
The Computer Science Collaboration between Julia de Burgos elementary school and Villanova University, partners eighth graders with faculty and undergraduates who specialize in computer sciences. Currently running in its 16th year, the program allowed de Brugos students to visit the campus and receive training on computer viruses, hardware, software and source code.
Technology program helps connect students of color to computer programming.
The Computer Science Collaboration between Julia de Burgos elementary school and Villanova University, partners eighth graders with faculty and undergraduates who specialize in computer science.
Currently running in its 16th year, the program allowed de Burgos students to visit the campus and receive training on computer viruses, hardware, software and source code. The annual program has about 20 students that participate and is currently under the direction of Dr. William Fleishman and Najib Nadi, both teach computer science at Villanova.
The collaboration started when one of Fleishman's students, Lance Rougeux, accepted a position as a sixth-grade teacher at Julia de Burgos and explained the school was in need for computers.
"We realized how valuable it would be to have students from Villanova serve as mentors and models to the seventh- and eighth-grade students at Julia de Burgos. Fortunately, I was in a position to donate 24 computers and a half dozen printers for a new computer lab at the school. That was the beginning of the Villanova and Julia de Burgos connection," Fleishman said.
Eighth-grade math and science teacher, Andrew Guyon helped coordinate the program for the last two years, with guidance from Carmen R. Carrion, eighth-grade english and social studies teacher.
"Collaborating with Dr. Fleishman, Mr. Nadi and Villanova students has been personally gratifying. We are pleased to chaperone so our students can have access to technology and campus resources. A special thank you to Mrs. Carrion for continuing the collaboration and to our teacher chaperones Mr. Giacomini, Ms. Wudarski and Mr. Oquendo," Guyon said.
"This program provides an extended learning opportunity for our students on a prestigious college campus in order to foster creativity, critical thinking, and computer literacy. Attending Villanova allows our students one step closer to achieving their dreams of being video gamers and computer programmers," he added.
On Friday, May 2, a ceremony was held to congratulate students on completing the program. During the event, students received a free laptop courtesy of Villanova.
Computer science has been ranked as the most in-demand and lucrative profession, yet recent statistics show people of color are not gaining access to the industry, according to Entrepreneur Media. In 2013, about 29,000 students nationwide took an AP computer science exam. Only 1,090 of African American and 2,400 Latino students took the test in comparison to more than 13,000 white students.
With startling statistics, its no surprise why the collaboration is vital for future success among students of color. More than 80 percent of the student population at Julia de Burgos are Latino.
"The importance of children of color to have access to computer science is paramount, computer science is a driving innovation across all fields, so it makes sense that our children have access to this technology in order to have a career advantage in the future," Carrion said.