National Computer Science Education Week Set

LOS ALAMITOS, Calif., 4 December, 2009 – The week beginning 7 December has been declared National Computer Science Education Week by the US Congress. Congress approved the declaration to “support the increased understanding of, and interest in, computer science and computing careers among the public and in schools, and to ensure an ample and diverse future technology workforce.”

The designation encourages:
• identification by schools, teachers, researchers, universities, and policymakers of mechanisms for teachers to receive cutting-edge professional development so that they can provide sustainable learning experiences in computer science;
• exposure of students to computer science concepts; and
• opportunities for females and underrepresented minorities in computer science, and support of research in computer science to address what would motivate increased participation in the field.

Sponsored by Reps. Vernon Ehlers (R-Mich.) and Jared Polis (D-Colo.), the declaration was approved by Congress on 20 October. The first week in December was chosen to honor computer science pioneer Grace Murray Hopper, who was born on 9 December, 1906. Hopper engineered new programming languages and pioneered standards for computer systems that laid the foundation for computer science advances for three decades beginning in the late 1940s.

“In today’s knowledge-based economy, technological breakthroughs and innovations are the key for economic growth and prosperity,” Polis, an Internet entrepreneur, told Members of Congress in calling for the bill’s approval. “The applications of computing innovations are present in every aspect of our lives and are fueling major changes in our society, from communications, education, healthcare, and defense, to how we interact with each other and conduct transactions in our everyday business.”

Polis said that in order to remain at the forefront of cutting-edge technology advancements, the US must prepare and train a highly-skilled and diverse workforce to effectively meet the IT sector’s workforce needs.

Polis said introducing students to computer science at an early age could counter the trend of low computer science enrollments, particularly for women and minorities. Professional development for teachers, science scholarships, and implementing participation best practices could also help, he said.

About the IEEE Computer Society

With nearly 85,000 members, the IEEE Computer Society is the world’s leading organization of computing professionals. Founded in 1946, and the largest of the 39 societies of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the Computer Society is dedicated to advancing the theory and application of computer and information-processing technology. The Society serves the information and career-development needs of today’s computing researchers and practitioners with technical journals, magazines, conferences, books, conference publications, certifications, and online courses.

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