Georgia Tech Broadens, Diversifies Computing Education

October 5, 2009

College of Computing Receives Additional $1.4 Million for Georgia Computes!

ATLANTA (October 6, 2009) — Georgia Computes!, a statewide program aimed at expanding the pipeline of computer science students and teachers at all education levels in Georgia, received a $1.4 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to extend the program for two more years.

Originally a three-year program, Georgia Tech's College of Computing has been working under the NSF-funded Broadening Participation in Computing (BPC) program to improve computing education throughout the state at all levels with a special focus on developing and implementing models for recruiting, mentoring and retaining students from underrepresented communities. Georgia Computes! engages groups that have not historically participated in IT education at high rates, such as minorities, women and persons with disabilities.

"After just three years of working to raise interest in computing, Georgia Computes! has reached thousands of Georgians,"  Mark Guzdial, professor in the College of Computing at Georgia Tech and principal investigator for Georgia Computes! said. "To date, Georgia Tech has exponentially increased the number of Girl Scouts participating in workshops, created eight regional summer computing camps, doubled the number of schools offering Advanced Placement Computer Science classes, doubled the number of Hispanic students taking the AP exam and have influenced a quarter of the computing programs in the University System of Georgia. Now we can maintain our momentum and gear up for the next two years thanks to the NSF."

Led by faculty, professors and graduate students from the Georgia Tech College of Computing, Georgia Computes! includes the following efforts:

  • For K-12 students: broadening the definition of computing by using diverse mentors, including high school students and disabled undergraduate students; weekend computing workshops with the Girl Scouts; after-school computing workshops with Cool Girls, Boys and Girls Club and YWCA; summer camps for fourth through 12th grade students at Georgia Tech and eight other colleges and universities; and computing workshops for high school teachers to engage K-12 students.
  • For undergraduate students: computing workshops hosted by the University System of Georgia for faculty to teach high-retention curricula and then evaluate impact; research to determine why students do not take computer science classes; recruitment of undergraduates to serve as leaders and mentors for high school students.
  • For graduate students: recruitment of graduate students to serve as leaders, mentors, material developers and evaluators for tracking computer science graduate enrollment in Georgia.

This next phase of the program focuses on growth and measurement. Georgia Computes! aims to increase teacher education efforts by adding two regional centers of expertise at Columbus State and Armstrong Atlantic State University and by developing online materials to offer in-service workshops regardless of geography. Innovative online computing courses will provide access via the internet to Georgia’s new computer science teaching endorsement. Perhaps the most significant addition to the program, Georgia Tech will create an infrastructure to measure individual university computing programs in the state and track individuals from workshops and camps through high school classes to university degrees.

Georgia Tech will share results of the project to serve as a model for the nation in increasing interest in computer science. Other states are looking to Georgia, including Alabama, Florida and Illinois which created "Illinois Computes!", and have started similar efforts. The future goal of Georgia Computes! is to grow beyond the state and have regional impact across the Southeast.

The grant comes on the heels of a recent $2.5 million NSF grant for Operation Reboot, a program through Georgia Tech's College of Computing to transform unemployed IT professionals into high school computing teachers over the next three years. Additionally, Georgia Tech's Institute for Personal Robotics in Education (IPRE) was recently awarded $250,000 for a second phase of enhancing introductory computer science curriculum using personal robots to teach foundational computing skills. That is more than $4.5 million just this year to support Georgia Tech and its work to improve science education in Georgia and throughout the country.

About the Georgia Tech College of Computing

The Georgia Tech College of Computing is a national leader in the creation of real-world computing breakthroughs that drive social and scientific progress. With its graduate program ranked 9th nationally by U.S. News and World Report, the College’s unconventional approach to education is defining the new face of computing by expanding the horizons of traditional computer science students through interdisciplinary collaboration and a focus on human centered solutions. For more information about the Georgia Tech College of Computing, its academic divisions and research centers, please visit http://www.cc.gatech.edu.

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For more information, contact:
Stefany Wilson
Georgia Tech College of Computing
404.894.7253
stefany [at] cc [dot] gatech [dot] edu