Greenville Tech receives $22,500 grant from Duke Energy Foundation for after-school program

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CoderDoJo aims for young techies

Information technology ranks 11th out of 16 career cluster choices among students in grades 8 through 12.

Manufacturing ranks 14th.

That doesn’t bode well for Greenville’s economy.

But Greenville Tech wants to help change that through a CoderDoJo, a free after-school program designed to introduce middle school students to coding, website development, applications, programs and games and to allow them to explore technology in informal, creative and sociable environments.

Greenville Tech got a $22,500 grant from the Duke Energy Foundation for the program.

“We need to expand the pipeline of future workers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and advanced manufacturing,” said Mary Locke, assistant dean in Greenville Tech’s business and technology division. “A lot of students and their parents are not familiar with how much technology is involved in manufacturing.”

The problem is especially acute among female and minority students. Only 32 percent of manufacturing workers and 46 percent of information technology workers in Greenville County are female.

CoderDojo is a network of free, volunteer-led, independent community-based programming clubs for youth. It has 550 clubs in 55 countries.

A Greenville Tech faculty member will supervise the program. Teachers for each class will be from the college’s faculty. Volunteer coaches will assist them.

Locke said a total of 280 students from four Greenville middle schools would participate over the course of four semesters.

The program will begin in the fall. Locke said organizers aim to attract both boys and girls and will recruit students from lower-income neighborhoods so they see expanded career opportunities.

As part of the program, all of the students will learn about the educational path they should follow in high school in order to get those IT and advanced manufacturing jobs, Locke said.

The curriculum will focus on coding as well as introduce students to robotics and gaming. The program will feature project-based classes and allow students to develop their own projects around topics they find interesting.

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