Amazon Expands Future Engineer Program to Younger Grades
- By Dian Schaffhauser
Amazon has expanded its "Future Engineer" initiative into K-8. The program has begun offering free online lessons and funding summer camps to help students discover the fun of computer science.
Earlier this year, the company began revealing its "Amazon Future Engineer Pathway" program, to support 100,000 high schoolers in taking Advanced Placement courses in computer science and award four-year scholarships and internships to a sizable group of students from under-represented populations who participate in those courses.
Now Amazon intends to fund CS camp scholarships through partnerships with Code.org and Coding with Kids. The idea is to provide underprivileged students in communities across the country with the means to learn coding in an interactive, hands-on way. Currently, the company is accepting scholarship applications for 2019 campus and classes. Schools and districts may also apply on behalf of families
The non-camp courses are being delivered through edhesive, a company that focuses on delivering STEM education online. Currently, aside from AP-level courses, the company also offers two courses appropriate for middle schoolers or early high school students: "Explorations in Coding I" is a beginning CS course and Explorations in Coding II" is a continuation of that. Neither requires the teacher to have prior CS knowledge or experience.
"This program from Amazon will play an important role in helping make computer science education -- and high paying jobs -- a reality for female and underrepresented, minority students," said Hadi Partovi, founder and CEO of Code.org, in a statement. "Computer science education and skills have become essential across all industries today. It's critical that students from all backgrounds have access to the classes that set them up to succeed and the resources to continue their studies."
One school that's taking advantage of Amazon offerings is Rudder High School in the Bryan Independent School District in Bryan, TX. "Amazon's support assists us in offering important computer science courses for our students, many of whom will go on to be first generation college students," said Jason Cordes, who teaches CS at the high school. "Our students are enthusiastic and passionate – deserving of as many opportunities as we can give them. To help them get an education in a fast-growing field, like computer science, enables them to ensure a successful future."
Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.