UTEP receives $5M grant to train K-12 teachers to promote computer science education

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Photo courtesy of UTEP.

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – UTEP announced Wednesday that the institution received a $5 million grant from the Hopper-Dean Foundation to endow its computer science teacher education initiatives.

The endowment will create The Hopper-Dean Foundation Center of Excellence for K-12 Computer Science Education at UTEP. The Center will partner with “CSforALL”, a National Science Foundation-supported organization, to ensure high-quality computer science curriculum is an integral part of the educational experience for K-12 students in the El Paso region.

“This is a transformative gift for the future of El Paso…Computing is everywhere – from our doctor’s offices to our gas stations, from the air conditioners in our homes to the phones in our pockets. Educating our children for a world where computing powers everything requires well-prepared teachers. This gift will endow our ability to educate K-12 teachers in computing. We are building the pathway for the next generation to pursue successful careers in Computer Science by focusing on the most important thing – well-prepared teachers in our classrooms.”

Heather Wilson, UTEP President

In addition to promoting teacher certification in computer science, the Hopper-Dean Foundation Center will study and share effective practices in computing education for Hispanic students, UTEP officials said. This center is well aligned with the recently announced Natalicio Institute for Hispanic Student Success at UTEP.

Teacher education students enrolled at UTEP’s College of Education will be required to pass at least one computer science education course.

University officials say the new Hopper-Dean Foundation Center will collaborate with the Department of Computer Science in the College of Engineering and the Department of Teacher Education in the College of Education to create a new Bachelor of Science in Education Program for computer science teacher preparation.

In addition, the center will research computer science pedagogy and conduct continuing education programs. It will also study and evaluate public policy related to curriculum and the effective teaching of computing in collaboration with partners in industry and the community.

Dr. Ann Quiroz Gates, senior vice provost and professor of computer science, is a leader of computer science initiatives through the Computing Alliance of Hispanic-Serving Institutions, a National Science Foundation INCLUDES alliance, and is a member of the Catalyze Tech Working Group.

“As America’s leading Hispanic-serving research institution, UTEP is preparing the next generation of Hispanic teachers with effective practices for teaching computer science…They will take this knowledge to their future classrooms, touching students in the Paso del Norte region and potentially across the nation. I am so thankful for our partnerships with the Hopper-Dean Foundation and CSforALL for making this Center possible — and for the efforts of Catalyze Tech.”

Dr. Ann Quiroz Gates, senior vice provost and professor of computer science

The gift to UTEP from the Hopper-Dean Foundation is being coordinated with a national diversity initiative known as Catalyze Tech, spearheaded by Snap Inc., the parent company of Snapchat. Catalyze Tech hopes to improve diversity in the technology sector workforce, and this week, the initiative released the ACT Report to provide tech companies with an action framework to promote diversity.

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