A new partnership led by Weber State University is preparing high school students for highly-demanded careers in computer science and computing technology.

WSU’s School of Computing, housed within the College of Engineering, Applied Science & Technology (EAST), is offering four concurrent enrollment computer science classes that, when all completed, will allow students to obtain a Programming Essentials Certificate of Proficiency.

Kim Murphy instructs students from NUAMES and
Ben Lomond High School

The classes, which began with the start of fall semester, are giving young students the opportunity earn a valuable certificate before they graduate high school. Additionally, it provides a head start toward a career in computing, since students will have 16 of the 40 credits required to earn an associate’s degree in computer science.

The program is designed to offer students a pathway with multiple successive steps that open opportunities for advanced degrees, higher paying jobs, internships or employment. Students earn stackable credentials that start with the Programming Essentials certificate, progress to an associate’s degree, then a bachelor’s degree and, finally, a master’s degree.

The secondary schools partnering with WSU’s School of Computing include Ogden School District, Weber School District, Davis School District, Morgan School District and NUAMES.

“Connecting with diverse student populations early about the high demand of computer science professionals and the benefits of securing a job in the technology sector will serve the needs of our local industry partners and the Utah economy,” said Brian Rague, EAST associate dean.

Participating high school students primarily attend classes through their concurrent enrollment programs. However, for courses not offered through concurrent enrollment, WSU’s computer science instructors offer distance learning through interactive video conferencing, which means students can watch classes either broadcasted live or previously recorded without ever having to leave their high school classroom.

Currently, high schools have a difficult time finding computer science instructors to teach concurrent enrollment classes. However, WSU has multiple faculty equipped to teach students the skills and knowledge that will make them more employable.

The program is part of a statewide effort, called the Strategic Workforce Investment initiative, that encourages public colleges and universities to better meet Utah’s workforce needs. WSU was awarded a grant to enhance its career pathway in computer science, which helps prepare students for high-skill and high-wage jobs.

“The generous funding support provided by the Strategic Workforce Investment allows the WSU School of Computing to collaborate effectively with our secondary school partners,” Rague said. “It helps motivate students to make significant strides toward a rewarding career in computing well before graduating high school.”