6-8-2015: Duke Energy Helps GTC Introduce Middle School Students to STEM

The Duke Energy Foundation has provided a $22,500 gift to Greenville Technical College (GTC) to introduce middle school students to computer programming and advanced manufacturing through a free after school activity.

Called CoderDojo, the program is in place worldwide, with 550 clubs in 55 countries including 115 U.S. locations. The club, to be supervised by a GTC faculty member with assistance from volunteer coaches, will offer a ratio of one coach to every two to three students. A total of 280 young people are expected to learn the basics of coding, develop websites and explore technology in an informal, creative, sociable and fun-filled environment.

It is critical to South Carolina’s advanced manufacturing employers, which are leading the economy, that young people be encouraged to pursue careers in this area so future jobs will be filled. A 2012 S.C. Department of Education survey of students in grades 8 through 12 showed career interest in information technology ranked 11 out of 16 cluster choices, while manufacturing was ranked even lower at 14.

Students and their families are often unfamiliar with the high-tech world of advanced manufacturing, where information technology and robotics rule the production floor, and workers have a solid foundation in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills. This perception problem is especially acute among women and minorities, and currently only 32 percent of manufacturing workers and 46 percent of information technology workers in Greenville County are female.
Greenville Technical College will work with Greenville County Schools and Legacy Charter School to encourage participation. Classes will be held over four semesters beginning summer 2015.

“It is key to our community’s economic future that we expand the pipeline of young people interested in computer programming and advanced manufacturing careers,” said Dr. Keith Miller, president of Greenville Technical College. “We are grateful to the Duke Energy Foundation for funding a proactive approach to increasing interest in these strong opportunities.”