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White House cites Buffalo State program in 'Computer Science for All' report

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Mon, Sep 19th 2016 11:30 am

A program directed by Buffalo State's computer information systems department was cited by the White House for its commitment to advance President Barack Obama's "Computer Science for All" initiative.

Buffalo State's "Computer Science for All in Western New York" was one of 200 programs highlighted by the White House on Sept. 14 during a summit to announce progress toward Obama's goal from the 2016 State of the Union address - to ensure every American student has an opportunity to learn computer science.

"We have to make sure all our kids are equipped for the jobs of the future - which means not just being able to work with computers, but developing the analytical and coding skills to power our innovation economy," Obama said in January. "In the new economy, computer science isn't an optional skill - it's a basic skill, right along with the three 'Rs.' "

Buffalo State's commitment to the national "Computer Science for All" initiative - which is cited on Page 13 of the White House fact sheet - builds on programming and momentum working with area high school teachers in recent years. Over the past four summers, Buffalo State, through the CS4HS (computer science for high school) program, has offered free professional development workshops for both private and public high school teachers thanks to grants from search-engine giant Google.

The program, which was attended by 40 teachers representing more than 25 area schools last June, is designed to convey various concepts of computer science as well as strategies for attracting students to the field. For the past four years, the participating teachers, their students, and parents have returned to Buffalo State for the CS4HS showcase and competition, which is the culminating event of the professional development workshop. So far, more than 100 teachers from the region have participated in the CS4HS program.

"If teachers can spark student interest early, it may result in more students majoring in computer science in college and, eventually, joining the computer-science field," said CIS professor and project member Sarbani Banerjee in an interview earlier this summer.

Banerjee is joined on the initiative by fellow CIS faculty members Neal Mazur, Ramona Santa Maria, and Charles Arbutina.

Buffalo State will hold a follow-up workshop on the new AP computer science principles course with past program participants in October.

The 2017 CS4HS program is tentatively scheduled for the last week of June.

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