KSU’s CyberTech program helps top area students prepare for a career in computer science

Academically outstanding and diverse students from 10 area high schools are putting their math and…

Georgia (Jun 26, 2003) — KSU’s CyberTech program helps top area students prepare for a career in computer science

Rick Woodall

Abstract

Academically outstanding and diverse students from 10 area high schools are putting their math and science skills to the test as part of Kennesaw State University’s strategic educational initiative known as CyberTech 2K3.



Approximately 130 students representing schools in Cobb‚ Bartow and Whitfield counties are nearing the end of a month of intensive training designed to provide them with a sound foundation in computer science principles as well as a working knowledge of Java‚ the newest programming language. Graduation is Saturday‚ June 28‚ at which time 30 students will receive free Dell computers recognizing their participation in the program.



Piloted in 2001 as a way to introduce students from traditionally under−represented groups to the sciences‚ CyberTech started out with 30 students from South Cobb High School. The list of schools grew to seven in 2002 before increasing again in 2003. This year’s participants include North Cobb‚ South Cobb‚ Osborne‚ Campbell‚ Pebblebrook and McEachern high schools from Cobb County; Cass‚ Woodland and Adairsville high schools from Bartow County and Dalton High School from Whitfield County.



Students are chosen using a variety of criteria‚ including math skills‚ grade point average‚ disciplinary records and interest in computer technology. This year‚ the emphasis on strong math skills was even more important‚ due to the heavy focus placed on the Java programming language.

“We really had to go after a higher−end student this year because we did Java only‚” said Dale Benham‚ CyberTech director. “It’s strictly programming. The kids have to have really excellent math skills in order to be able to do this.”



In addition to the three hours of daily instruction they receive five times a week over the course of the month−long program‚ students also interact with experts in the field of technology through the guest speaker program. Participants this year have included Patrick Gray of Internet Security Systems‚ Jesse Benson of IBM‚ Bob Wise of Equifax‚ Andre Vlajk of Dell‚ Linda Chappell of Cingular Wireless and Dr. Betty Siegel‚ longtime president of KSU. Like the students to whom they are speaking‚ these professionals hail from a variety of different cultural backgrounds‚ thus illustrating the kind of diversity that CyberTech is meant to foster.



“I want all of our students to be able to look at that stage and see success stories they can relate to and be inspired by‚” Benham said. “Whatever their background‚ I want the students to be able to say‚ ‘They’ve made it‚ so I can make it.”



With a grant from the National Science Foundation pending‚ program coordinators hope CyberTech will soon be expanded to include an introductory course in computer science and information systems offered to students during the second semester of their sophomore year to prepare them for the summer session to follow. KSU already sponsors computer challenge clubs at North Cobb‚ South Cobb‚ Dalton and Cass for alumni of the program‚ and the university is also providing free training for high school teachers hoping to be certified to offer advanced placement computer science to the students at their respective schools. All of these initiatives are meant to help high school students with an interest in computer science achieve their educational goals when they reach college.



“We envision each student who graduates from the CyberTech program serving as a role model in his or her high school‚” Benham said. “Because of the experience‚ we anticipate CyberTech graduates will influence their fellow students to consider careers in science and mathematics.”



###



Kennesaw State University is a comprehensive‚ residential institution with a growing student population of 15‚600 from 123 countries. The fourth largest state university out of 34 institutions in the University System of Georgia‚ KSU offers more than 55 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.



 

A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers more than 150 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its approximately 41,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the third-largest university in the state. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the region and from 92 countries across the globe. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status, and one of the 50 largest public institutions in the country. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu

©