Icon for: Sarah Lee

SARAH LEE

Mississippi State University
Public Discussion
  • Icon for: Sarah Lee

    Sarah Lee

    Lead Presenter
    May 12, 2019 | 11:56 p.m.

    Please enjoy our video on a program resulting from collective alliance work in Mississippi. The Mississippi Coding Academies provide an alternative pathway to computing education. Launched through InnovateMS, Mississippi State University is providing support for this program that helps improve equitable access to computing education in the state. 

  • Icon for: Joni Falk

    Joni Falk

    Co-Director of CSR at TERC
    May 13, 2019 | 03:37 p.m.

    Sarah Lee, really enjoyed this video and learning about your project building the capacity of students and working with employers in the state. How many years has this program been running? How many students per year go through it? What percentage of your students get placed in technical jobs? And does it cost the students money to attend, or is that covered by the grant? If the latter, how will you sustain this excellent program once funding ends? Thanks for this excellent presentation!

     

     

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    Sarah Lee

    Lead Presenter
    May 13, 2019 | 08:21 p.m.

    Joni,

    Thank you for commenting!  The second cohort of trainees is completing the program this summer. We are currently interviewing for the year 3 cohort. 21 trainees completed the first cohort, and we have 33 in the 2nd group. The students do not pay anything to attend, and in year one it cost approximately $20K per student. We have funding from multiple sources include state and federal government resources, private foundations, and corporate foundations and donations. We continue to make adjustments and evaluate options to lower that cost per student while maintaining the quality of instruction. 60% of the first group entered technical positions with an average starting salary of $40,500.  Others in cohort one entered higher education, the military, or non-technical jobs upon completion. We are currently pursuing a model of providing 'on shore' software development talent that will extend learning to 'on the job' training for our participants and bring revenue back into the program.

    Thanks for stopping by!

    Sarah

     
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    Joni Falk
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    Joni Falk

    Co-Director of CSR at TERC
    May 13, 2019 | 10:16 p.m.

    This is a very exciting project and what is learned can be used by others who are attempting to retrain those who lose jobs to automation or closed factories, to pursue technical paths. So much potential here!

     

     
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    Sarah Lee
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    Dr. Hickman

    Funder
    May 14, 2019 | 09:57 a.m.

    Excellent program

  • Icon for: Patricia Marsteller

    Patricia Marsteller

    Facilitator
    May 14, 2019 | 12:53 p.m.

    Hey Sarah

    What  a valuable program.  I'd love to learn more about how such a program can be adopted and adapted in other settings.  How did you recruit and incentivize the program teachers?  How did you get support from industry and others who might employ the graduates?

    Is the program all residential or is some of it on-line?

    What are the biggest barriers to success for participants?

     

    What are your best lessons learned for others who may want to try this?

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    Sarah Lee

    Lead Presenter
    May 15, 2019 | 09:08 a.m.

    Hi Patricia,

     

    Currently, our technical instructors are persons with industry experience in the tech industry.  We are exploring a model of using graduate students in engineering education or computer science (through graduate assistantships) for technical instruction.   We use a variety of resources for soft skills training, including industry partners as guest lecturers.

    The program is currently face-to-face, but plans are in place to provide a hybrid and fully distance model in order to have more equitable access to the opportunity. Currently, participants must attend during normal business hours, Monday through Friday. This presents an obstacle for many who must work during those hours or have child or elder caregiver responsibilities. There is no 'homework'..learning is very active during the day. This enables some participants to hold part-time employment in the evenings.

    We recognize that, depending on a trainee's background and life stage, some of them need more time for learning communication sills for the professional environment. We are working with industry partners to extend the 11 months to include a paid internship within which those students who need that extra time can be immersed in an environment where they can model and be coached on interaction in that context.

    Cohort one trainees who have completed the program and are employed in tech positions are our best 'tools' for getting industry support. We have employers of that first group who are reaching out to inquire about hiring from the 2nd cohort. We have a statewide Director of Development and Outreach, whose mission is to engage and strengthen relationships with employers both within and outside of Mississippi.

     

    Thanks for stopping by!!!

    Sarah

  • Icon for: Stephen Alkins

    Stephen Alkins

    Facilitator
    May 14, 2019 | 01:51 p.m.

    This is a great program to offer, and I especially like the understanding of the different career tracks that students pursue.

    1) Have you worked with any tech firms in the area to develop curricula for the students?  This would inform everyone involved about the trends in CS and technology that students should be learning

    2) Do the students receive any certifications or credentials throughout the process that supports their resume building?

    3) Is there any emphasis on recruiting underrepresented minorities within technology or CS?

  • Icon for: Sarah Lee

    Sarah Lee

    Lead Presenter
    May 15, 2019 | 09:17 a.m.

    Hi Stephen!

    We do work with the regional tech industry to provide evaluation of the curricula, and use their input to ensure the curriculum is preparing students to meet the resource needs of those companies. 

    Students receive a certification from the Mississippi Coding Academy. The Mississippi state government agencies recently changed their requirements to recognize this certification as a minimum requirement for some of their tech jobs that previously would have stated associates or bachelor's degrees as a minimum. That is a change we hope to influence throughout industry HR departments!

    Mississippi provides a rich environment for broadening participation in computing. Half of our public school children are African American, and half are female. 86% of students who entered the Mississippi Coding Academies across cohorts 1 and 2 are African American and 72% are female. 

     

    Thank you for stopping by!

    Sarah

  • Icon for: Alex Rudolph

    Alex Rudolph

    Facilitator
    May 15, 2019 | 10:14 a.m.

    This is a wonderful program and video. Congratulations! I do have a couple of questions:

    1) Based on the participants shown, one might guess that you are targeting groups traditionally underrepresented in computer science/coding, including women and underrepresented minorities. Is that an explicit goal of the project? If so, how to you target recruiting at those groups?

    2) Can you say a bit more about the impact of your program? What is the success rate for your participants in finding jobs as coders? 

    3) Do you plan to disseminate this model nationally? How?

  • Icon for: Sarah Lee

    Sarah Lee

    Lead Presenter
    May 16, 2019 | 12:07 p.m.

    Hi Alex! Thank you for stopping by our video!

    Mississippi provides a very rich environment for broadening participation in computing as noted by the fact that half of our public school children are female and half of them are African American.  Our MCA enrollment reflects higher percentages than those averages, and is a natural result of providing an alternative pathway to computing education in our rural state. I work closely with educational leadership in the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, and am researching and considering standing up a Mississippi Coding Academy closer to them that targets their citizens.  Currently, the closest campus is a one hour drive from their central location.  

    We have only had one cohort complete the program (cohort 2 will complete this summer). In cohort 1, 60% entered technical positions with an average starting salary of $40,500.  Others entered higher education, the military, or non-technical jobs upon completion. We are continuing to track that first group, and will do so for subsequent cohorts, as we study the characteristics of persons who are most successful in this alternative pathway.

    Discussions are ongoing with economic development stakeholders in a neighboring state about scaling the program.  Through publications on a national level, we are sharing our story and hope to disseminate knowledge on best practices:

    • Sarah Lee Richard Sun, Randy Lynn (2019). Mississippi Coding Academies: A non-traditional approach to computing education. Accepted, 126th Annual Conference & Exposition of the American Society for Engineering Education, June 2019, Tampa FL.
    • Sarah Lee, Jessica Ivy, Andrew Stamps (2019). Providing Equitable Access to Computing Education in Mississippi. 4th international conference on Research in Equity and Sustained Participation in Engineering, Computing, and Technology, Minneapolis, MN.
  • Icon for: Patricia Marsteller

    Patricia Marsteller

    Facilitator
    May 16, 2019 | 12:44 p.m.

    I wonder if you've thought about approaching some of the Foundations especially those whose fortunes derive from computing?

    Seems like that might be a  part of dissemination and expansion.  What do you think?

  • Icon for: Sarah Lee

    Sarah Lee

    Lead Presenter
    May 16, 2019 | 06:00 p.m.

    Patricia,

    We have some funding from some corporate foundations that are companies with a southern region presence. We do have a new Director of Development who is expanding that reach to include larger companies in other parts of the US.

    Thank you for your comments, and I welcome any suggestions for any particular foundations that you believe we should approach.

    Sarah

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