Santa Clara University

SCU Engineering News

Encouraging the next generation of computer engineers

Next generation of Computer Engineers

Dan Lewis, professor of computer engineering, Ruth Davis, associate dean of undergraduate programs and professor of computer engineering, and Pedro Hernandez-Ramos, chair of the Department of Education and coordinator of Santa Clara’s Science, Technology, Environmental Education, Mathematics (STEEM) Program, have been working in partnership with several high schools and districts to establish a new high school curriculum called "Exploring Computer Science" (ECS). Funded by a three-year $1Million grant from National Science Foundation (NSF), the project already includes 14 teachers in eleven high schools from San Jose Unified, Santa Clara Unified and East Side Union High School District.

The ECS course, which was first developed through a collaboration between the University of Oregon and the Computer Science Equity Alliance for schools in Los Angeles Unified School District, was piloted during the 2008-09 academic year, and is being taught for the first time in the San Jose area this year.

“This course,” said Lewis, “has been approved by the University of California for "g" elective credit in order to make it more attractive to college-bound students.” In turn, the goal is that it will increase the number of teachers trained in computing and attract students to the study of computing—particularly those from groups under-represented in the field of computing, such as African Americans, Hispanics and women.

"Statistics show that computer science occupations are projected to account for nearly 60% of all job growth in all occupations of all fields of science and engineering between now and 2018, but at the current rate of enrollment in computer science and engineering programs, only 29 percent of these jobs could be filled by U.S. computing graduates. In order to meet the demand, it is imperative that we are aggressive in reaching out to high school students and encourage them to study computer science and engineering by offering courses such as ECS," said Lewis.