Carter County Schools join Amazon computer science program

As job fields change rapidly over the years, the increasing demands of certain fields require a greater focus. Many areas, however, have a difficult time meeting these ever-growing needs, so various organizations have begun pitching in to help better prepare future members of the working class for the future that awaits them.

Carter County Schools is launching a new computer science initiative in their high schools, with special backing from Amazon.

Hampton High School teacher Patrick Kelly said the program is part of their continued efforts to provide educational opportunities for high school students in the county.

“We thought this would be a good addition,” Kelly said. “There is a rising demand in this field, and there are a lot of companies to work for.”

The sponsorship comes from the Amazon Future Engineer program, which they launched in late 2018. Amazon has sponsored over 1,000 high schools across the country in this initiative, one that works to make computer science education and training more accessible to students.

“Its focus is on under-served areas, like Carter County,” Kelly said. “This enables us to provide for our students with little investment from us.”

He said this focus on computer science is important because of the modern landscape. Kelly said of the 1.4 million computer science jobs experts predict will be available next year, there are only roughly 400,000 applicants.

Further, while computer science is the fastest growing STEM field, according to the press release, only about 8 percent of STEM graduates are doing so with a computer science degree, increasing its demand.

The program will feature three available courses for high school students, starting with sophomores. In the fall of 2019, this will start with two courses available for sophomores and above. In 2020, they will add the third course.

Kelly said they recommend at least a prior class in Algebra beforehand, specifically Algebra 2 skills.

“We live in a high poverty area,” he said. “We want to work hard to help students be successful.”

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