Wednesday, July 24, 2013
There is a shortage of computer scientists, and demand for this career is expected to increase in the next decade.
That's what led Google to pilot a new program at its Berkeley County Data Center just outside Goose Creek, where the Internet giant will train future computer science educators for the next two years.
The Google Computer Science Teaching Fellows Practicum is a two-year, post-graduate program designed to develop leaders in computer science education, according to Lilyn Hester, who handles public relations for Google.
The program developed out of Google's long-term commitment to and support of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and computer science education.
The 12 fellows will work for Google while learning the newest techniques and programs for computer science pedagogy, implementing programs with local schools and students, and creating innovative approaches to student learning. Hester said the fellows will finish the practicum with unique skills and an invaluable network, poised to become the next computer science education leaders.
If the practicum goes well it is set to spread to other southeast Google locations such as North Carolina and Georgia.
Google hired the fellows, recent computer science graduates, about a month ago Google Director of Education and University Relations Maggie Johnson, of the Mountview, Calif. headquarters, told this newspaper. “They are being trained on computer science education programs and online material programs,” Johnson said.
This team of fellows will test the program in Berkeley County over the next few months to help determine its scale, Johnson said.
Six of the fellows are recent STEM graduates. Google is heavily involved with STEM and has a number of national initiatives, including programs in Berkeley County and the surrounding areas.
In addition there are two education researchers: Project Lead Cameron Fadjo and Project Manager Kate Berrio.
“We have fellows from all around the region,” Fadjo said. “The next couple of weeks is introducing them to new things, training them to teach computer science and computer science pedagogy.”
“We envision these folks will be the next leaders in this area,” Berrio said. “We're adding a leadership element to it. We want to make sure they are well-rounded when they go out into the world.”
The program is a first of its kind for Google, Hester said.
“We want to focus on what is working,” Johnson said. “We're positioning the fellows to identify what works in the computer science landscape. We do not have enough computer scientists to meet the demand, which will increase in the next 10 years.
“It's an opportunity for us to get ahead and spark interest with students.”
“What we're doing right now is fact-finding,” Hester said. “We're not going to reinvent the wheel, just see what's working.”