A year after launching the first Montgomery Can Code, a free summer camp for middle schoolers, Montgomery College (MC) and its public and private partners decided to go virtual this summer, and the participation skyrocketed.
“This year, we tripled enrollment while going virtual,” said Steve Greenfield, dean of Business, Information Technology and Safety (BITS) at MC. “The program went from about 300 students in 2019 to 960 registered students in one year.”
MC, Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) and the Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation (MCEDC) collaborated with Apple, once again, with the goal of introducing students to future careers in tech, with the concentration on coding.
Students have been learning the skills they need to pursue careers in the app economy by working in Swift, Apple’s easy-to-understand programming language. They have also learned about a variety of exciting career paths from local businesses and used teamwork, presentation skills, project management, and problem-solving skills to imagine how to solve real world problems through technology.
Instructors trained in Swift taught the sessions through the College’s Information Technology Institute. MCEDC also introduced industry leaders, such as American Gene Technologies (AGT), to speak to students about the booming job markets that need skilled coders. AGT Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Galvin discussed the skills he learned in coding and how they inspired him to create the company and work with DNA.
“This year, because it was virtual, business leaders uploaded YouTube videos that were deployed by teachers, for the campers,” Greenfield said.
The Montgomery Can Code partnership not only promotes education but also the development of the talent pipeline necessary to sustain Montgomery County’s technology competitiveness. Local companies continue to search for highly skilled workers in fields like cybersecurity, gaming, life sciences, and hospitality technology. Early exposure to develop these skills provides students with a future advantage in being hired, and brings academia and the business community together to invest in the county’s future workforce.
We envision many of these young people will one day enroll in college technology programs. Coding is a valuable skill set for our young people to bring to college and the workforce
During the camp, students learn to code using the Everyone Can Code curriculum and Swift Playgrounds for iPad, which showcases the multi-touch features of iPad, allowing students to use code to learn key programming concepts by solving puzzles. Swift Playground requires no previous coding knowledge.
“We envision many of these young people will one day enroll in college technology programs. Coding is a valuable skill set for our young people to bring to college and the workforce; it’s a high-demand career path,” said Dr. Sanjay Rai, Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs at Montgomery College. “Our young people can engage with Swift and our Montgomery College faculty at this early point in their education, helping to build confidence and interest in jobs of the future.”
Students received a free Montgomery Can Code T-shirt and a loaner iPad at the start of each session. Throughout the course, students watched videos on the value of coding and participated in nonprofit challenges. They also received a certificate of completion at the end.
The summer camp experience culminated with a Student Apps Showcase event, which highlighted some of the students’ app solutions for solving problems they care about.
Learn more at Montgomery Can Code.