But what happens when schools can’t or don’t teach students tech ― or how tech touches almost every job they may hold?
Jeff lived in Cameroon, an African country reeling from years of poverty. Ready for high school, he had a dream of becoming a mechanical engineer but too many barriers have rendered Cameroon’s 15-year attempt to implement tech in its schools ineffective, challenging the young man’s desire.
“I didn’t want to be left behind. Everything in the world has to do with computers. I was going to need some kind of computer science degree, even for engineering,” Jeff said.
He made a courageous decision: Emigrate to Indianapolis and enroll in Warren Central High School to prepare for earning a degree at IUPUI.
He didn’t know that a Warren Central computer science class would change the course of his life again.
The teen was still a shy stranger in an unfamiliar school when he heard about the Nextech Catapult program, an immersive experience that helps students develop technical and workplace skills, authentic peer relationships and a passion for service.
“I thought, ‘That would be an awesome opportunity.’ I didn’t have any friends or plans for the summer, plus it was computer science. And it was free! Why wouldn’t anyone in my situation join?” he said.
Research shows that more than 80% of students believe they could learn computer science if they were given the chance.
Thanks to Nextech, Jeff would have his chance.
His future began to change from the first day of Catapult.
“I’m nervous, I don’t know anyone, and right away we had a group project: Create a mobile app,” he said. “But we just started coming up with ideas. I was really impressed with how we could build an app to solve a problem.”
Three years later, Jeff is still proud of his contributions. He drew the wireframes and all the app’s screens on paper. He still holds onto those drawings.
“Having a team gives you the feeling that you can give something greater, more wholesome, to those around you.”
The following year, Nextech taught Jeff design thinking and coding.
“Being able to work with people I didn’t know and actually use my computer science skills and knowledge for a business problem helped me learn a lot – going to different tech companies, seeing how many opportunities exist in the tech industry, even right here in Indianapolis, all the exposure … It opened a lot of doors for me. I’ll be forever grateful to Nextech,” he said.
He became more self-confident and communicative, too. He now talks about Nextech to every student he can.
“They’re all interested in some type of game or website. I tell them, ‘You can make your own if you take computer science. You’ll to learn how to create, how to do your own thing, how to collaborate and come up with something creative and beautiful.’”
He is now studying computer science at Purdue … thanks to Nextech.
“Nextech is the reason I changed my college plans. I realized I’ll have a better time working and a better chance to succeed because I know what I like to do,” he said.
Jeff got his chance to learn computer science, thanks to Nextech. Meanwhile, many students across Indiana are at risk for what he feared most: Being left behind.
By giving to Nextech, you ensure students like Jeff will get the training in computer science they need to fill tomorrow’s jobs. Donate today.
Fill out the short form below to receive our newsletter for updates and information on Nextech and our initiatives.
Thank you for signing up to receive monthly updates from Nextech.
Be sure to follow us on Twitter (@nextech) to join our conversations on computer science, coding, education and all things that fuel our passion.