Thanks to the work of many Maine educators, professionals, volunteers and, of course, students, we are finishing our first calendar year having met (or nearly met) all of our goals and objectives, and that's three months before the end of this academic year. So, as we continue to grow our core activities, we are developing new initiatives in our campaign to expand the network of computing and IT professionals in Maine through information, education, internships, and more.
With the exemplary coordination of Liz Rensenbrink, Human Resources Director at Tyler Technologies, we held campus networking receptions on 5 university campuses and at Thomas College over the past 4 months with over 150 student attendees and more than 40 business representatives (some of whom attended several receptions), as well as faculty, deans, provosts, and university presidents.
We've now identified nearly 100 paid internship positions around the state for computing and IT students, and we've received reports that as many as half are being offered continued employment after their internships are complete. We are reminding students of these great opportunities every chance we get!
The University of Maine System student retention team is pleased to report good news: the incoming class of computing and IT students on UMS campuses in the fall of 2012 was the largest in 5 years, and seven percent more of them returned to campus this fall compared to the prior year. In addition, nearly 30% of surveyed full-time students reported that Project>Login has made a difference in their success. Although this data is preliminary, it's pointing in the right direction, and we will continue to support UMS faculty, staff, and students as they grow these computing and IT programs across the state.
Members of our statewide tech events working group are currently immersed in planning this year's Tech Nights for high school students in March in the Portland and Augusta regions, and we're capturing best practices to help others create new Tech Nights around the state.
In our role as advocate for computing and IT education, we supported the successful statewide bond campaign to improve facilities on university and community college campuses. We're serving on several university and college advisory boards (see below). We promoted petitions by the American Association of University Women and the Maine School of Science and Mathematics to have Computer Science courses count toward Maine's graduation requirements for mathematics. And we've reached out to businesses, educators, teachers, students, and a variety of organizations to promote the profession and our degree programs here in Maine.
During outreach sessions this fall with over a dozen groups of students, educators, counselors, leaders, and parents, the greatest interest was in knowing more about what it's actually like to be a computing and IT professional.
To that end, we've already begun building a full-spectrum pathways approach from curiosity to career that helps young and adult learners sparked by tech find the educational opportunities that best match their particular interests and then connects them with current and projected high-demand jobs in computing and IT.
To support this approach, we were early advocates of the national Hour of Code campaign which is raising broad public awareness of the profession. Indeed, Maine schools provided an Hour of Code to over 17,000 K-12 students during Computer Science Education Week in December and over 250 people from 1st graders to grandparents joined us at the Maine FIRST© LEGO© League event in December to try an Hour of Code.
We're creating data-backed college dashboards promoting the entire computing and IT campus experience, including academic studies, student activities, career preparation, and alumni profiles to help young and adult learners find the colleges that best match their interests, abilities, and personalities. All of this integrates with national and state workforce data, raising awareness of the projected demand for each major career group within computing and IT: leadership and management; analysis and architecture; development and programming; data, security, and networking; and training and support. (Our dashboard recently showed 390 computing and IT job openings open in Maine.)
We are developing a phase-2 awareness campaign to help young and adult learners see themselves working in the field by promoting the five major computing and IT career groups through well-crafted stories text, images, flyers, and posters about a day in the life of inspiring young professionals who grew up and studied in Maine and who are thriving in their careers here. We will promote the campaign through social and paid media and materials distributed to K12, college, and workforce career counselors.
Over the past months, more folks have been asking about how they can mentor young and adult learners in computing and IT. Some have reached out to schools to transform students' Hour of Code enthusiasm into computing clubs, where students and mentors explore tutorials and projects together. Other Maine middle school, high school, and college students already participate in tech teams that help teachers and other students integrate technologies for learning. And some are developing mobile apps to meet community needs, including apps that identify invasive and endangered species, showcase the best lakes for fishing, and map and track local trails. As a matter of fact, two student development teams were selected as Best in State by the Verizon Innovative App Challenge.
We will be convening a group interested in promoting community app challenges that bring together mentors and students at all levels to create real mobile apps that improve our quality of life in Maine and, of course, raise awareness about what it's like to work in the profession. Let me know if you're interested!
Our sponsors, partners, and volunteers make Project>Login make a success, so thank you, once again, for your continuing support!
Jay Collier, Program Director ¢ Educate Maine
Governor LePage, Acting Commissioner Rier recognize Computer Science Education Week - The awareness initiative will involve thousands of Maine students, trying their hand at computer programming... An advocate of the Hour of Code in Maine is Project>Login, a program of Educate Maine, which aims to expand the network of computing and IT professionals in Maine through education, information and internships.
Maine School receives $10,000 from Code.org - Leaders at Shapleigh Middle School in Kittery announced they received a $10,000 grant from Code.org to continue the school's extensive Hour of Code learning opportunities through after school coding clubs.
UMF student creates free app to help identify invasive aquatic plants in the field - Invasive aquatic plants are an escalating problem in Maine, and one that a University of Maine at Farmington senior and computer science major wants to help prevent.
October 2013-February 2014
See our introduction to Project>Login at: http://goo.gl/BQZQ2M