Tuskegee University is at the forefront of a national movement to bring Computer Science Education at the K-12 level. A partnership led by Tuskegee University’s College of Arts and Sciences has been awarded a $1 million grant from the CS 10K Program of the National Science Foundation (NSF) to establish the course “Exploring Computer Science (ECS)” in all 43 high schools of the Alabama Black Belt. NSF’s CS 10K program was created in response to a critical lack of authentic Computer Science Education at the K-12 level across the country. The NSF initiative seeks to have 10,000 well-trained Computer Science teachers in 10,000 high schools across the United States so that they can, in turn, prepare a large number of high school students in the field.
Through the funding that has been awarded by the NSF, the Tuskegee CS 10K project will first recruit and prepare 60 teachers from high schools in the Black Belt with content and pedagogical resources to teach ECS. Following this training, teachers will provide ECS instruction to the students. At the end of the 3-year project, an estimated 1,500 students will have taken the ECS course, contributing greatly to the focus of the national CS 10K initiative.
The Tuskegee CS 10K partnership is poised to make a significant impact in the education of the children of the Alabama Black Belt region and increase their overall competitiveness for studies and jobs in computing-rich fields. In Alabama, Computer Science Education has remained marginalized in a reflection of the situation in the rest of the nation. There are approximately 4,200 open computer science jobs in Alabama, but an average of only 450 undergraduate degrees are awarded each year in this field by the state’s higher education institutions.. The CS 10K project, therefore, comes at the right time to encourage and prepare more students for the computing fields.
Dr. Mohammed A. Qazi, of the Department of Mathematics who serves as the Principal Investigator of the grant says, “This CS 10K initiative will improve access to and success in ECS course offerings for students in the underserved Alabama Black Belt region. The project will give these students equal opportunities to enter the pipeline that will carry them to a large number of skilled jobs that are projected to be available in computer related fields in the coming years”. Moreover, “The project has the potential to serve as a recruitment initiative for computing-rich STEM majors at Tuskegee University”.
In addition to Dr. Qazi, other Tuskegee Investigators are Dr. Hira Narang and Dr. Cassandra Thomas of the Dept. of Computer Science. The partnership further includes Auburn University, the University of Alabama, A+ College Ready, the Alabama State Department of Education, the Black Belt Commission, the Exploring Computer Science Program (from UCLA), the Tuskegee University Computer Science Advisory Board, and 19 school districts in the 17 counties that traditionally constitute the historic Black Belt region of the state of Alabama.
Alabama's Black Belt region