With Contribution from AT&T, Seton Hall Launches Tech Mentoring Program for High School Students
by Wendy Quansah
Seton Hall University President A. Gabriel Esteban recently accepted a contribution of $250,000 from AT&T which will be used to establish the Seton Hall Young Developers Program (YDP). The contribution was presented at a ceremony at Jubilee Hall which was attended by former NJ Governor Richard Codey, Assemblywoman Mila Jasey, among other dignitaries.
Dr. Gabriel Esteban, Seton Hall University President
"This partnership shows leadership in mobile technology which is quickly supplanting traditional modes of technology," said President Esteban. "The level of excitement from the students is what we want to build upon as they try and find their niche in a very competitive workforce. This allows them to explore a rapidly growing and evolving field."
Under the leadership of the University's Center for Mobile Research & Innovation (CMRI), the Young Developers Program will bring together Seton Hall student mentors and students from Newark Technology High School who will be developing mobile apps.
The program aims to provide a social good, introduce students to science and technology careers and promote positive social change in the community. It has been designed to serve as a replicable, national model and is part of AT&T's Aspire program, which tackles high school success and college/career readiness for students at-risk of dropping out of high school by engaging people and technology to bring new solutions and added resources to challenging social problems.
"This project came from our recognition that there is a need for programs that bring together K-12 schools, higher education institutions and corporate sponsors to promote education in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, and help provide insight into the growing field of application development. YDP provides an opportunity to educate young people about the process for developing applications as well as how the business works," said David Middleton, CMRI Executive Director. He adds, "We also recognized the opportunity to partner with schools to help students understand the increasing role technology is going to play for them as they go forward into college and the work force."
The year-long process to build a technology-based extracurricular program to target students who are underserved in their school district wasn’t always easy, said Dr. Michael Taylor, CMRI Academic Director.
Dr. Michael Taylor, Associate Professor of Political Science, Seton Hall University
"Reaching the appropriate students in a way that is rigorous, engaging, and ultimately enjoyable enough to be successful as a self-guided, extracurricular program is a real challenge," said Taylor. "YDP focuses on creativity and problem solving to highlight the relevance of app development across professional fields and industries. Students will create apps for the marketplace that address real world needs. Demonstrating the relevance of the skills being learned allows for a more rigorous curriculum."
Mike Schweder, AT&T Mid-Atlantic President, who presented his company's contribution, said the Young Developers Program meshes perfectly with the AT&T Aspire program mission of high school dropout prevention.
"The dropout rate, along with inadequate training and education, is keeping many high-paying Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) jobs from being filled. And the situation is expected to worsen as STEM jobs grow a projected 17 percent by 2018. We need to ensure that we have a workforce that is prepared to tackle the technological challenges of the future," said Schweder.
Beginning in January 2013, and continuing throughout the academic year, YDP students will participate in after-school online courses on coding, prototyping, user interface design, testing, and marketing. Seton Hall students from the Center for Community Research and & Engagement at the University and industry professionals will serve as mentors and help the participating high school students plan and develop mobile apps. The apps developed by the students must be community-oriented and serve a social good.
Universities and underserved students in high schools across the country will be able to use the model curriculum to be created by the Young Developers Program, using the experiences of the year-long program. Other schools will have access to the theory, tools and skills necessary for beginning mobile app development, including conceptualization, design, coding, and marketing.
"I think it is a great opportunity for our students to be able to give back to the community through the mentoring opportunity which YDP allows among other things," said President Esteban. "It is a win-win for us and Newark, for our students and their students as well."