NYC Kicks Off Tech Education Pilot Program in 20 Schools

Twenty New York City middle- and high schools are going to be taking part in a pilot program that will bring a comprehensive computer science curriculum into their classrooms, Mayor Mike Bloomberg has announced. The pilot program is part of the effort by the city to prepare its students to succeed in a world that is becoming more dependent on technology every year.

Like other parts of the country, companies based in New York City are reporting a severe shortage in qualified engineers, computer programmers and other technology workers, and hopes that efforts like Software Engineering Pilot will make it easier to produce homegrown candidates to fill this gap. With this goal in mind, the schools taking part on the pilot will begin offering courses covering topics like computer programming, web design, embedded electronics, robotics and mobile computing starting next year. As part of the pilot, teacher training programs will also be put into place.

“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,” Bloomberg said in a statement today. “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.”

Among those selected to participate are schools located in all five boroughs and includes at least one specialized school – the Brooklyn Technical High School commonly known as “Brooklyn Tech” – which requires an entrance exam. The city’s acclaimed public school for gifted kids – Mark Twain IS. 239 will also participate in the pilot.

The announcement follows the “Made in NYC” campaign that Bloomberg announced last week, which supports the city’s startup community. Students participating in the SEP program will likely be strong applicants for Cornell NYC Tech’s campus, which is scheduled to open in 2017 (classes have already begun in temporary Manhattan locations). If all goes according to plan, NYC’s engineer shortage will be less of a problem in several years.

It is no coincidence that Brooklyn’s High School of Telecommunication Arts and Technology served as the setting for the announcement of the new educational push. The school, which is one of the participants, was created as part of an effort by the Bloomberg administration to bring better STEM education to the city.

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