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July 16, 2019

UC Riverside Engineering hosts summer coding camp to address diversity shortfall in computer science careers

The free camp, funded in part by a $10,000 donation from Amazon, teaches local high school students computer science applications

Author: Katharine Hall
July 16, 2019

The University of California, Riverside’s Marlan and Rosemary Bourns College of Engineering (BCOE) will embark on two sessions of CS 4 ALL CODE CAMP, a free one-week intensive program that introduces coding and computer science to high school students from the Inland Empire region.

Code Camp, created by the college’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE), is designed to inspire young women and underrepresented groups to gain interest with careers in computer science. During the camp, students learn to write code, develop applications, and control code technologies while working on Amazon Kindle tablets.

The program addresses a unique challenge in the tech and STEM workforce, which are among the highest paying and fastest growing careers in the United States. There are currently more than 500,000 open jobs in computing but the number of computer science graduates fall short – just around 50,000 each year, and of those only one in five are women and even fewer are underrepresented minorities.

The camp is led by a pair of tech-savvy computer science experts, lecturer Kelly Downey with assistance from professor of teaching Mariam Salloum. “Keeping the camp free-of-charge is important to attract a diverse audience of high schools students who are interested in computer programming but may not have access to industry-specific pathway programs,” Salloum said. “Amazon’s gift helps keep Code Camp free so all students have opportunities to learn fundamental skills that could lead to lucrative computer science careers.”

More than 80 local middle and high school students attend the camp each summer to develop coding skills that are applicable to real life. Throughout the week, students participate in talks and group projects, interactive labs, and are encouraged to take computer classes in high school and study computer science in college. Students also improve their practical computer skills, problem-solving skills, and learn how coders create software for a variety of fields, including health, art, law, and education. To navigate these coding exercises and course projects, students practice skills on Kindles and take the tablets home afterward to continue their projects after the camp has concluded. The camp culminates in a showcase highlighting the apps created by the students and parents and family members are invited and encouraged to attend.

To learn more about the CS4ALL CODE CAMP, visit the program’s website

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