Sept. 23, 2022 — Summer is a busy time of year for the Education & Outreach team at the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC). High school students are out of school and summer programs are in full swing.
This summer, the E&O team completed its seventh year of hosting [email protected], the center’s signature summer residential program for high school students. The [email protected] program is comprised of three summer camps — [email protected] Robotics, [email protected] Cybersecurity, and [email protected] Connected.
Over three weeks, 56 high school students gathered for new and exciting experiences designed to increase their interest in computer science. Of the 56 attendees, 43 were first-time campers, and 18 were first-generation college aspirants (children of parents who do not hold college degrees).
Dawn Hunter, a program manager with E&O, said hosting [email protected] in-person allows E&O staff to learn more about the students’ many talents, watch them make new friends, and grow in their computer science skills. [email protected] 2022 was the first in-person gathering for students since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Week One began with [email protected] Cybersecurity, an innovative program designed to increase students’ interest in cybersecurity careers and online safety. Sixteen students participated in exploratory lessons while increasing their knowledge about online personal safety, computer networking, mobile security, cryptography, cloud computing, cyber-crime, and ethics.Celeste Molina, a junior at Hargrave High School, said, “I discovered how easy it is to hack someone if they’re not being careful about what they post on social media. As a result, I’m adjusting my social media habits by doing things like not tagging locations and creating posts with minimal details.”
Molina also appreciated the spirit of camaraderie she saw at camp.
“I love how everyone was so ambitious and personable,” Molina said. “I enjoyed spending time with the other campers and our counselors — we’re all going to keep in touch.”
Nikki Hendricks is a cybersecurity education specialist with the Expanding Pathways in Computing (EPIC) team at TACC. Hendricks, who launched a cybersecurity collaborative in June, believes cybersecurity education must be improved in classrooms.
“The importance of managing your online presence, privacy, and security were key components of [email protected] Cybersecurity week,” Hendricks said. “Students learned the value of protecting their data, the skills necessary to lock down their social media accounts, and the significance of projecting a positive image through their social media activities.”
[email protected] Robotics
Week Two was [email protected] Robotics, which introduces students to programming and electronics. Twenty-four students used machine learning algorithms to program miniature cars to detect human faces, stop signs, and primary colors. To accomplish these tasks, students learned the programming language Python and how to use artificial intelligence.”Learning how to program the miniature cars to start and stop was exciting, and I loved bonding with the other campers,” said Isis Maxwell, a junior at Kipp East End High School. “Campers and counselors were able to laugh and have fun together. I will never forget the friends I made at camp.”
Kennedy Newbell, a sophomore at Tarrant County College South/Fort Worth ISD Collegiate High School, echoes this sentiment.
“I enjoyed the experience of staying in the dorms, so that I know what to expect when I go off to college,” Newbell said. “I also enjoyed meeting students who attend Early College High Schools, like me.”
[email protected] Connected
[email protected] 2022 was partially funded by a $120,000 gift from the Harman-Mayes-Sooch Family Fund, the sixth grant TACC has received from the philanthropic fund. The camps also received funding from KLE, Cisco and BP.
“Our work has always been rooted in the belief that education is the key for economically disadvantaged children and families to escape poverty and access higher-paying employment opportunities,” said Janet Harman, who founded the family fund in 2004.
[email protected] started in 2015 with just 50 students. Now in its seventh year, the program has served more than 500 students with the majority from African American/Black and Hispanic/Latinx backgrounds. Forty-five percent of the participants have been girls, and 44 percent have been first-generation college aspirants.
Participants and families are invited to [email protected] quarterly outreach events to continue learning coding, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills, and to benefit from academic and professional development workshops.
Recently, TACC launched the Susan Fratkin Scholarship, which aims to address educational inequities and support undergraduate student persistence in higher education. Scholarships will be awarded to [email protected] alumni, with the first recipients to be awarded in 2023.
“[email protected] students are so talented, and some are already changing the world,” said E&O director Rosalia Gomez. “I look forward to seeing the things our alumni will accomplish and the ways they will improve their communities.”
To see more images, see the original article from Damian Hopkins here.
Source: Damian Hopkins, TACC