Utah Tech Industry Leaders Team Up with Local Schools to Expand Access to Computer Science and STEM Learning

Pete CodellaNews

Utah’s tech industry is helping educate Utah students and expand access to computer science learning.

In one project, more than 225 fourth, fifth and sixth grade students at Maple Ridge Elementary School have engaged in Code.org’s plugged and unplugged curriculum, administered by volunteers from InsideSales.com.

“This program has really made a difference for our students,” said Sara Matis, principal at Maple Ridge Elementary School. “This kind of exposure and hands-on experience really helps students see how computer programming can be exciting, relevant and within each student’s reach.”

Maple Ridge Elementary School, part of the Nebo School District, partnered with InsideSales’s non-profit foundation, the Do Good Foundation, for the program. Through this partnership, volunteers from InsideSales donated more than 500 hours this past semester to teach students how to code.

“Innovative partnerships are important to increase science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) educational opportunities for Utah students,” Gov. Gary R. Herbert said. “The state is fortunate to have partnerships that bring industry and education leaders together to design programs that help prepare the workforce Utah will need to sustain growth today – and tomorrow.”

The state has a growing need for professionals with computer programming and other computing skills. Currently, Utah has more than 5,300 open computing jobs with only 1,797 recent graduates to fill the gap, according to data collected by Code.org. This represents a serious talent shortage for local tech companies looking to expand and a potential risk to sustained economic development in the state’s thriving tech sector.

“We feel that part of the problem is rooted in the lack of computer science courses available for young children at school,” said Dave Elkington, CEO and founder of InsideSales.com and creator of the Do Good Foundation. “Nationwide, nine out of 10 parents want their children to learn computer science, but only one out of five schools teach computer programming. The patterns are similar here in Utah, and with the support of our incredible employee volunteers we wanted try to ignite a movement among tech companies to do something about it.”

Other technology leaders and non-profit organizations along the Wasatch Front are engaged in the cause of advancing computer science and STEM education in K-12, including Domo, Qualtrics and the Women Tech Council (WTC).

“Nurturing a tech-literate workforce is essential to the future of the Silicon Slopes economy,” said Josh James, founder and CEO of Domo. “We are thrilled to build upon the various educational and career programs we support for students — such as our internship program and WTC’s SheTech — and further contribute by helping Utah’s elementary school students get the exposure they need to computer science courses.”

“Ensuring access to STEM training and technology beginning with K-12 is essential to prepare students for a successful future,” said Ryan Smith, Qualtrics co-founder and CEO. “It’s exciting to see the Utah tech community rally together to help foster these kinds of opportunities, including the work we’ve been privileged to do donating tablets to hundreds of Utah elementary students for classroom use. We look forward to continuing to join with the Utah tech community to provide access to coding classes and technology for Utah students.”

“The data shows that the exposure and frequency children have to STEM fields directly correlates with their continued interested through high school and into college,” said Cydni Tetro, president of the Women Tech Council. “We are excited about the introduction of great coding curriculums into elementary schools, this initiative will help our technology pipeline gap and have a direct impact on our economy in the coming years.”

To learn more or sign up to receive additional information, visit www.insidesales.com/do-good-foundation.

Governor Herbert learning coding from a Maple Ridge Elementary student in Mapleton.