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Encouraging K-12 Student Interest in Computer Science

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The Department of Computer Science (CS) at Stony Brook is encouraging K-12 students throughout the region and the nation to study computer science with the hope of meeting growing workforce demand.

“Every day the department is bombarded with employer requests for qualified CS candidates,” said Arie Kaufman, CS Distinguished Professor and Chair. “It is our hope that through consistent high school outreach, students will learn to love computer science as much as we do, and eventually the employment gap will decrease.”

In addition to its work with CodeLI, which has been a very positive experience for CS students and thousands of kids on Long Island, the department is always seeking new ways to be involved with students at the community level. This spring, CS faculty and staff will visit with K-12 students to encourage all ages to learn to code.

Hillcrest High School Visits Stony Brook

Students from Hillcrest visited campus
Students from Hillcrest High School visited campus.

A group of 33 students from Hillcrest High School in Jamaica, Queens, visited Stony Brook University with their computer science teacher and had the opportunity to hear from many College of Engineering and Applied Sciences (CEAS) faculty and staff.

Back in 1980, a young man named Gerry Pepenella graduated from Stony Brook with a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering. Today, he works as a math, science and engineering teacher at the highly regarded Queens public school. As a teacher at Hillcrest, Pepenella started a unique program that teaches computer science to some of the brightest students in the school. Pepenella was a former industry executive, which helped the Hillcrest program obtain a few industry partners.

“I believe the program here is unique in the fact that we really do concentrate on Software Engineering and CS. It is a three-year sequence concentrating on problem understanding, definition, and algorithm development, planning, and then coding and testing” said Pepenella.

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Students met with faculty and toured the New Computer Science building.

The students were all very excited to visit the campus and to hear from administrators and faculty including Jennifer Dellaposta (Assistant Dean, CEAS), Robert Kukta (Associate Dean, CEAS), Paul Fodor (CS faculty and alum) and CS Chair Arie Kaufman. After a welcome presentation by Kaufman, Kukta and Dellaposta, Ken Gladky (Director of CS Operations) gave the students and several Hillcrest teachers a tour of the New Computer Science building.

Professor Paul Fodor gave students a Stony Brook Trivia Quiz based on the questions and process used when he worked on the team that developed IBM’s Watson computer, which famously competed on Jeopardy!. Students found the presentation interesting since some of them, who will be part of the program’s first graduating class, have already written commercial code.

During lunch students learned about applying to Stony Brook from Admissions Counselor Gerome Bell. These possible future Seawolves had many important questions, including SAT requirements for admission, and qualifying for various scholarships and diversity programs.

CS at Stony Brook has more visits planned with middle and high school students.

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