JCSS earns ‘Amazon Future Engineer’ grant

East Jackson Comprehensive High School juniors Grace Hill, left, and Haley Harrison are working on the CTAE Computer Science pathway and have already completed the Programming pathway. EJCHS will join Jackson County Comprehensive High School as part of Amazon's Future Engineer program next year.

East Jackson Comprehensive High School juniors Grace Hill, left, and Haley Harrison are working on the CTAE Computer Science pathway and have already completed the Programming pathway. EJCHS will join Jackson County Comprehensive High School as part of Amazon’s Future Engineer program next year.

Students at East Jackson Comprehensive High School will join their Jackson County Comprehensive High School counterparts in the “Amazon Future Engineer” program in the coming school year.

Amazon is promoting the initiative as a way to make computer science available to all students.

The four-part, childhood-to-career program works to inspire and educate 10 million children and young adults each year to pursue careers in the fast-growing field of computer science and coding.

The program focuses on access for all, according to its organizers. JCCHS received the grant funding last year; EJCHS will be part of the 2019-20 funding.

The two schools will join approximately 1,000 high schools across the country funded to offer an Intro to Computer Science course and Advanced Placement classes in computer science and computer science principles through curriculum provider Edhesive.

Amazon’s support provides preparatory lessons, tutorials, and professional development for teachers, fully-sequenced and -paced digital curriculum for students, and live online support every day of the week for both teachers and students, according to Todd Shultz, who directs JCSS’s career, technical, and agriculture education programs.

Shultz said these full-year courses are designed to inspire, prepare, and propel students in their pursuit of computer science education.

All students participating in the program will receive a free membership to AWS Educate, which provides them with free access to computing power in the AWS Cloud for their coding projects and content to learn about cloud computing.

“We couldn’t have taught this course at JCCHS last year without the support of Amazon,” Shultz said. “We are thrilled to be able to extend it for another year and give our EJCHS students this opportunity as they prepare to apply to college and build the skills for a rewarding career in technology and innovation.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that by 2020 there will be 1.4 million computer-science-related jobs available and only 400,000 computer science graduates with the skills to apply for those jobs.

According to information from Amazon, computer science is the fastest growing profession within the science, technology, engineering and math field, but only 8 percent of STEM graduates earn a computer science degree, with a tiny minority from underprivileged backgrounds.

In addition, underprivileged students are 8 to 10 times more likely to pursue college degrees in computer science if they have taken AP computer science in high school, according to Amazon’s data.

“We want to ensure that every child, especially those from underprivileged communities, has an opportunity to study computer science,” said Jeff Wilke, CEO Worldwide Consumer, Amazon.

“We are excited more than 1,000 schools will now provide these courses, and look forward to adding 1,000 more schools over the coming months.”