On Massive Growth of the CS Field, CS4 Mainline, and Entrepreneurship in HS.

Image courtesy: Treehouse.

Note: This article is going to be 3 articles (An Introduction on CS4 Mainline, How to Adapt to the Demand of 21st Century Skills, Balance Between Academics and Personal Interests) compiled into 1 because I found a good overlap between them.

A brief introduction on Computer Science (CS)

To the parents, students, and teachers: over the past decade, we’ve seen a steady increase in the rise of Computer Science (CS). Computer Science is a field that was growing yesterday, is growing today, and is poised for growth tomorrow.

To develop my thesis further, here are some statistics from the National Bureau of Labor Statistics:

For most of the past 20 years, employment in computer systems design and related services has grown rapidly.

From 1990 to 2001, employment in the industry rose quickly, as many businesses began to invest in computer systems.

Between 2001 and 2011, employment in computer systems design and related services increased by 232,300 jobs or 18 percent. This increase came in spite of the steep decline in employment between 2001 and 2003 that followed the dot-com crash in 2000, when investors sold off their stock in overvalued dot-com companies, resulting in tremendous losses of money and jobs in Internet technology.

Since 2003, employment in the IT industry has grown by 37 percent. During the recent recession (December 2007 to June 2009), the industry lost only 1 percent of its workforce in 2009, but otherwise maintained employment. By 2010, employment had recovered and was higher than it had been in 2008.

Developing The Next Generation!

When faced with statistics such as these, it’s important for us to recognize that it’s in our hands — as parents, schools, governments — to develop and catapult the next generation of students who can take on fill this huge gap in the market with the unlimited capabilities of Computer Science.

A generation who is not only introduced to Computer Science early on, but sees it as a skill as vital as learning English.

However, although many school districts across America, government officials are recognizing the capabilities of Computer Science, someone is yet to take it one — notch above.

The education market for computer science is growing and it’s growing fast.

A gap in the computer science education, for the youth, was that the sessions never lasted much longer than an hour, or for a day. While these sessions provided an initial exposure to Computer Science, students didn’t have the opportunity to engage with other students, build meaningful applications, and learn the knowledge to leverage that knowledge to do what they’d like: develop an Android App or iOS Apps, develop games whose ad revenue goes toward charity, VR/AR Machines that taught children what to do in emergency situations, mobile applications that prevented human trafficking, the possibilities were nearly endless.

If youth has the ambition, motivation and interest to develop meaningful applications, why did they still lack resources?

Under the firm belief that talent is equally distributed [age-wise], but opportunity is not, I’ve developed CS4 Mainline, a 4 week, tuition-free, summer immersive bootcamp aimed to develop a community of motivated and determined developers in Grades 2–7.

While developing the curriculum, I consulted lead engineers at companies such as IBM, Cisco and Pinterest on LinkedIn. I also consulted CS summer interns — at top-tier tech companies and startups — from Penn, Stanford & Berkeley. They were very welcoming and didn’t hesitate to give advice about which fundamental skills were important in Computer Science. This is an upside to being a student: people are willing to help if you ask because not long ago, they were in your shoes. The key is too never ask too much. Frame yourself as just a student looking for advice, and they’ll be glad to help you. They understand that you’re a “kid with a dream” because they’ve been there too. You just have to ask.

This combined, aided me to develop a tailored curriculum based on the student’s skills and baseline knowledge. To adequately test the skills of the students in our first cohort, we developed a diagnostic test based on a discrete time stochastic control process. Fancy words aside, this basically means that the curriculum is equipped to adapt based on any skill type.

For example, if a student speeded through the introductory questions on the diagnostic test, our algorithm picked it up. The algorithm adjusts the course work to his/her level so the student is challenged and is gaining something new out of the process. This ensures that we never have a baseline approach. A student in our cohort doesn’t have to straggle behind while learning in our class, rather we equipped them with the material they need no matter their skill level. And if a student want to refer back to a previous module? They can always come back, redo their old projects for a refresher, and move forward. Our curriculum & module type allows every student to succeed in the classroom and beyond.

We plan to expand our software framework to other organizations which are enabling students to thrive in the 21st century. Other organizations such as CoderDojo NYC, MV Code Club, BlackGirlsCode, & GirlsWhoCode demonstrated excitement when I reached out to them about the software CS4 Mainline is using. Several elementary & middle schools in India are thrilled to teach computer science with our software.

We launched on July 10, with our first cohort of 11 consisting 1/2 girls in Grades 2–7. We hope to increase the ratio of girls:boys over each cohort to encourage more women into technical fields such as Computer Science.

If this demonstrates anything to teens reading this article, it’s that no matter your age, you can have a dent on the world.

It may be as simple as raising funds for a local nonprofit concerned about animal abuse, developing a management plaform for volunteer hours for a marathon for cancer, and it can have an impact beyond what you can imagine.

I never imagined that a 2-people session teaching my sister and a friend coding would turn into a full, immersive, 4-week summer bootcamp backed by 10+ tech companies.

Yet, that’s the simple tool that we have as students. When no-one ever expects you to do something out of the ordinary school work, why not try something new towards a cause close to you? It’s always the little things that have the biggest impact. But that doesn’t mean that you’re lost if you can’t start a nonprofit. Start by volunteering at a local nonprofit! Help out with their finances, or sales, or operations, or whichever strong suit you may have. I promise you, it always helps.

Editor’s Takeaway:

  • It’s thrilling to see the great work organizations like CS4 Mainline are doing. Rohit’s token of appreciation is teaching tomorrow’s youth Computer Science & expanding the use of the DTSCP curriculum across various CS initiatives aimed towards kids across U.S. and beyond. What’s yours?

How to adapt to the growth of Computer Science

If you’re a parent, encourage your child to experiment with Computer Science with programs such as Scratch, Tynker and Hour-of-Code. If they demonstrate interest, purchase toys such as the Dash-and-Dot, and Sphero.

If you’re a student, sign up for an opportunity to be part of Cohort 2 of CS4 Mainline next year. You can also use technologies such as Scratch, Tynker, and Hour-of-Code to learn CS Fundamentals. If you’re in elementary and middle school, ask your teacher at school if you’ll get an opportunity to learn CS, if you don’t already. Persistence is key, and your teacher might just get to squeeze in a Computer Science course in there!

If you’re a school administrator, official, staff member, or teacher: Make the push to get more computer science education time in. Have the student understand that there is a potential option for student to learn Computer Science (CS) at your school by promoting Hour-of-Code initiatives, investing more in CS resources, and bringing in current professionals who’re in IT to the classroom. These are all potential steps you have the power to take today to adapt your school to 21st century skills.

Editor’s Takeaway:

  • It’s up to us to step up and empower the next generation. Whether you may be a parent, school official, student government president, or government official, you have it in your hands to educate the next generation in 21st century skills so they can go on to do great things to the country and the globe. Why wait when you can start now?

Entrepreneurship Can Wait. A Foundation Of Education Cannot.

A preeminent point I’d like to make about entrepreneurship during your HS years is this: Academics should be your prime focus in high school and college.

A terrible mistake I made was, I often found myself perpetually working on building my nonprofit, and payed less heed to my academics than I should have. My mind used to revolve around details about my nonprofit and my performance in school reflected that. My grades sunk much below that usual and before I realized, it was too late. Since then, I’ve developed solid study habits and going into my junior year, I’ve learned to balance between my school work and my entrepreneurial interests. Make sure to find that balance for you.

Create a strict schedule for school, studying, and work. Block out calls and work time for your startup on your schedule. With careful planning, you can excel at both school and entrepreneurship. I’m speaking from personal experience and from what I’ve seen from some of my illustrious friends. — Nathan Chiu, UPenn undergraduate student.

Nathan Chiu, a current student at UPenn summed it up best for me: It’s possible to be thriving in school and running a business at the same time. But always remember: running a business requires time and energy. Saving time requires efficiency and solid study habits. If you can’t remained focused on both school and the startup, I would suggest dropping the startup. Entrepreneurship can wait. A foundation of education cannot.

Rohit Bommisetti is the founder of CS4 Mainline and a student at Conestoga High School.