School Software Program Booting Up

Rego Park, Long Island City Kids Will Learn Engineering

Public schools in Rego Park and Long Island City are among 20 institutions across the five boroughs selected to participate in a new software engineering pilot program which will begin at the start of the next school year this September, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott announced on Monday, Feb. 25.

The schools will receive comprehensive computer science and software engineering curriculum for the 1,000 students expected to participate this fall. By 2016, the program will grow to 3,500 students.

Bloomberg first announced the Software Engineering Pilot in his State of the City address earlier this month, and the program is a part of the city’s work to prepare students for college and careers in the technology sector.

The Mayor and Chancellor Walcott made the announcement at the High School of Telecommunication Arts and Technology in Brooklyn, one of the 20 schools selected for the Software Engineering Pilot, and were joined by Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert K. Steel, AppNexus Cofounder and Chief Technology Officer Mike Nolet and Principal Philip Weinberg.

“We know it’s vital to prepare our children to succeed in an increasingly technology-centered economy and the Software Engineering Pilot will help us do just that,” said Bloomberg. “This groundbreaking program will ensure that more students receive computer science and software engineering instruction so that they can compete for the tech jobs that are increasingly becoming a part of our city’s economy. We’re creating the home-grown workforce our city needs and teaching our students skills that will open up new doors for them and their future.”

“The tech industry in New York City continues to expand significantly under Mayor Bloomberg’s leadership, and our public schools are rising to meet the challenge,” added Walcott. “The Software Engineering Pilot will provide students with the foundational skills they need to compete for high-paying, career track jobs in a variety of professional fields. I would like to thank the educators at our 20 pilot schools who are working hard to make this wonderful opportunity a reality for their students.”

In September, the Software Engineering Pilot will launch in 20 middle and high schools, bringing computer science and software engineering classes to students in grades six through 12. In the first year, the core topics to be taught include computer programming, embedded electronics, web design and programming, e-textiles, robotics and mobile computing. The pilot will also offer elective classes, including digital fabrication, 3-D printing and animation.

The 20 schools were selected through a competitive application process that evaluated the schools’ current technology offerings and how the program could help grow and sustain the programming. Among the selected schools were Queens Vocational and Technical High School in Long Island City and J.H.S. 157 (the Stephen A. Halsey School) in Rego Park.

The Software Engineering Pilot will also provide teacher training for the instructors leading the classes. Schools will use rigorous academic curriculum and have access to technology resources to support program instruction.

Participating high schools will also receive support in applying for New York State Education Department approval, which can award a Career and Technical Education endorsement to graduating students who complete the program.

The Software Engineering Pilot aligns to Common Core Learning Standards by developing students’ higher order thinking skills through the incorporation of industry-informed learning experiences. By emphasizing the analysis of complex text and mathematical modeling, participating students will extend their preparation in English language arts and literacy and mathematics while leveraging cutting-edge technology and curricula to develop the academic and personal behaviors that are a benchmark of college and career readiness.

The program also builds on the Applied Sciences NYC initiative that the Bloomberg administration launched to capitalize on the considerable growth in the city’s science, technology and research fields. In the technology sector, employment in New York grew by nearly 30 percent between 2005 and 2010, with total employment now at nearly 120,000.

The city has established three partnerships expected to create more than 48,000 jobs and 1,000 new companies and will be led by: Cornell and the Technion, which is developing a campus on Roosevelt Island; the NYU-led consortium, which will build the Center for Urban Science and Progress in Downtown Brooklyn; and Columbia University, which will establish the new Institute for Data Sciences and Engineering, to be located at Columbia’s Morningside Heights and Washington Heights campuses.

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