CyberTech program aims to increase diversity in sciences

Kennesaw State University’s campaign to increase diversity in the sciences welcomed some fresh faces in 2004.

Georgia (Jun 23, 2004) — Kennesaw State University’s campaign to increase diversity in the sciences welcomed some fresh faces in 2004. Chris Reese‚ the High School Teacher of the Year for the Atlanta Public Schools‚ and a group of South Atlanta students blazed a trail as the first representatives of their school system to participate in Kennesaw State’s groundbreaking CyberTech initiative.

A month−long program designed to increase interest and improve achievement in science and mathematics‚ CyberTech was piloted in 2001 with 30 students from South Cobb High School. Three years later‚ the program — geared specifically toward high−achieving students from traditionally under−represented groups in science and technology related career fields — featured approximately 120 students from nine different area high schools‚ including new additions South Atlanta and Marietta.

“CyberTech is an invaluable asset to my students‚” said Reese‚ himself a product of the Atlanta public school system. “My students come from a diversity of backgrounds‚ and some of them don’t have computers‚ much less Internet access or programming experience. CyberTech allows them to be exposed to the technology and the programming‚ and the technical careers that are associated with computers. This is experience that they wouldn’t receive otherwise.”

Participants attended class three hours a day‚ five days a week on the KSU campus‚ leading up to commencement exercises June 26. During this time‚ they learned to use the Java programming language through personal instruction‚ tutorials and hands−on laboratory experience.

The curriculum is designed to introduce students to the world of computer science and prepare them to succeed in advanced placement computer science courses at their home schools. Complementing the classroom experience are guest lectures delivered by representatives of high−tech companies such as Cingular Wireless‚ Dell‚ UPS‚ Equifax and IBM. These speakers give students an inside look at the business world of the 21st century‚ and provide them with role models as well.

“I like the structure of the program‚ and I like what it’s offering the kids‚” Reese said. “They will take a skill from this program.”

In addition to the personal expertise they provide through the guest lecture program‚ CyberTech’s corporate partners also lend financial support to the initiative. Dell has provided free computers for a select number of participants each year since the program’s inception‚ while Equifax now sponsors a $1‚000 scholarship to be given to a former CyberTech student choosing to attend college at KSU. Recently‚ the UPS Foundation announced a $50‚000 donation to help cover the annual costs of the program‚ thus making it accessible to more students.

More support could be on the horizon in the form of a National Science Foundation grant that‚ if approved‚ will allow CyberTech to evolve from a four−week summer session into a comprehensive three−year program featuring 200 participants from throughout Northwest Georgia.

“We envision CyberTech serving as a nationwide model for science education‚” said Dale Benham‚ program director. “The goal is for participants in the program to serve as role models in their respective high schools‚ thus influencing their classmates to consider a career in science and mathematics.”




 

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

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