Apr 08, 2020
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(The Collegian/Jose Romo Jr.)

Fresno State receives over $1 million dollars to prepare teachers with computer science skills

Fresno state will be receiving a $1.2 million award to prepare teachers with computer science skills. 

The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded the university with the five-year, $1.2 million commitment allowing Fresno State to provide students in the College of Science and Mathematics with the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship. 

The scholarship aims to help students pursue further education and become  computing-capable teachers through the single subject credential program, Fresno State said in a press release. 

The program will support 60 students over five years to pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) teaching careers in the Central Valley.

“The program has several support mechanisms, including financial support, a community of practice, professional development workshops, one-on-one meetings with discipline-specific advisers and field experiences,” said Matin Pirouz, assistant professor in the department of computer science and principal investigator of this NSF-funded project. “The scholarship covers tuition fees, as well as a stipend for the duration of the program.”

It will partner with local high-need school districts, including Sanger Unified, Fresno Unified and Central Unified.

According to the release, California does not yet have a computer science teacher preparation program. The California State Board of Education published its Computer Science Strategic Implementation Plan in May 2019, recommending that,“opportunities be created for students, especially underrepresented students, to participate in expanded learning, scholarships, internships and mentorships related to computer science.”

Pirouz says the program is expected to directly impact at least 7,000 high school students, many of whom are from less-resourced socioeconomic backgrounds.

“Teachers with a computer science background are better able to prepare children not only for the future workforce, but also to actively participate in local and global citizenship,” said Rohit Mehta, assistant professor in the department of curriculum and instruction at Fresno State. “Children can become active problem solvers and change agents.”

The program is designed to make sure all students are more equipped to join in the STEM area. 

“This is an equity issue,” said Laura Alamillo, dean of the Kremen School of Education and Human Development at Fresno State. “Providing additional support in computer science opens up opportunities, not only for our teacher candidates, but for children having access to teachers who are well prepared in the STEM area. Most of our teachers serve areas where children may not otherwise have access to STEM.”

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