SATURDAY AUG 21, 2021 |
From our first planning discussions I expected that a coding academy at the State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota, would be a transformational opportunity for our community. This summer, I got to see just how accurate that expectation was.
Our STEM-tastic Summer Coding Camps brought hundreds of local youths to our campuses to program and fly drones, design and build robots and learn the basics of coding and information technology. What they also experienced was a transformational opportunity to see how the technology they enjoyed could lead to an education and careers in Manatee and Sarasota Counties.
SCF conducted eight one-week coding camps this summer for 294 students from second grade through high school. Our objective was to help campers develop an entrepreneurial mindset and encourage them to pursue academic programs and careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Students were exposed to multiple perspectives on coding and information technology through drones, robotics, game design, manufacturing design and virtual reality.
Our college has a long history of summer camps, but the coding academy is an exciting way to link campers to technology, SCF educational programming and careers in local industry. Deshjuana Bagley, SCF’s Director of the IT/Coding Academy, brought 16 years of technology-based summer camp experience to the college and hit the ground running to launch this successful new venture with her team.
Our local industry partners were critical to the camp’s success and were integrated into the program through sponsorships, camp visits and “Made in Florida” industry tours. We are extremely grateful to our sponsors for providing scholarships, transportation and take-home robotics kits. Their contributions removed barriers to attending our camps for many students and the industry tours changed the perceptions of our middle- and high-school campers about manufacturing careers in our region. Sponsorships also allowed us to target demographic groups not typically exposed to technology, including an all-girls camp and a large high school student group from the Newtown area.
This summer’s camps demonstrated the transformational capability of our coding academy. As summer turns to fall, the academy’s focus turns to our adult learners with a focus on career building through IT industry certifications and immersive bootcamps and workshops:
- SCF will offer short-term, flexible technology certification courses based on industry demand. Each course prepares participants to earn certificates that open doors to high-earning careers and college credit.
- Through bootcamps and workshops our coding academy teaches IT and programming skills needed for today’s jobs, while also preparing and mentoring participants for jobs in the future.
There is much more to come as we identify emerging needs in the IT industry. The academy’s goal is to build an on-campus coding community where local industry mentors can help our IT learners and hire them when they complete their training. Those learners then return as mentors and continue the cycle.
For more information on the SCF Coding Academy, please email Deshjuana Bagley at [email protected] or visit www.scf.edu.
It was so much fun to watch the campers get switched on by the programming and fly drones around. The young campers were excited to show me the “manatee money” they had earned, and I was very impressed to see the entrepreneurial presentations our older campers gave to their parents.
I am excited to see those campers return to SCF for their education and to see the academy expand to all areas of our community for transformational summer camps and adult learning.
Dr. Carol Probstfeld is President of State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota.
Image courtesy SCF.