The awareness initiative will involve thousands of Maine students, trying their hand at computer programming and competing in robotics competitions
AUGUSTA – Maine Governor Paul R. LePage and Acting Education Commissioner Jim Rier are recognizing the important role computer science has in the state’s classrooms and growing economy.
The Governor and Acting Commissioner today voiced their support of Computer Science Education Week (CSEDdWeek), a national awareness program to engage students in computer science that runs Dec. 9-15.
The initiative was founded in part by Microsoft, the company whose software is now on thousands of HP laptops in Maine middle and high schools through the Maine Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI). Microsoft continues to sponsor CSEDdWeek, as does Apple, which has tens of thousands of its laptops and tablets in Maine schools through MLTI.
“Maine’s kids are the future of our state, and it’s important we help them develop the critical computer science skills they’ll need to solve the complex challenges they’ll be confronted with,” said Governor LePage. “Doing so will not only increase their own competitiveness, but that of our great state and nation.”
Acting Commissioner Rier, himself a former engineer, said Maine students can be particularly strong candidates when pursuing computer science related career opportunities given their extensive experience with technology in their classrooms through MLTI.
“Under Governor LePage, Maine has been a national leader in putting the technology in our classrooms that our students will be called upon to use in the workplace,” Acting Commissioner Rier said. “Regardless of their career path, I encourage Maine students, schools and communities to take full advantage of the opportunities to develop these foundational 21st century skills of using technology to communicate, create and code through the ongoing MLTI program and Computer Science Education Week.”
As part of Computer Science Education Week, more than 15,000 students from Fort Kent to the Kennebunks will participate in the Hour of Code, a one-hour introduction to computer programming using simple online tutorials created by engineers at leading technology companies like Microsoft and Google. Nearly 1 million students have signed up nationwide at www.code.org.
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. Launched one year ago, the initiative seeks to double the number of computer science and information technology graduates from the University of Maine System by 2016.
In recognition of CSEdWeek and the importance of science, technology, engineering and math (known as STEM), Acting Education Commissioner Rier will speak Saturday to thousands of students gathering in Augusta for the 14th Annual FIRST LEGO League Robotics Competition and Central Maine VEX Robot Tournament, the state’s largest STEM gathering.
More than 9,000 Mainers are currently employed in computer and mathematical occupations, and those numbers are on the rise. Double-digit percentage growth is expected by 2020 for database administrators, computer systems analysts, software developers and network and computer system architects and administrators. Hourly wages in those fields are well above the state average, with most workers earning over $30 per hour according to data available from the Maine Department of Labor.
For more information about Computer Science Education Week, visit www.csedweek.org.