Forsyth Tech, AAMPED host STEM camp for local young men

Forsyth Tech, AAMPED host STEM camp for local young men
June 26
23:50 2019

Last week Forsyth Technical Community College (FTCC) and Crosby Scholars joined forces to host a computer camp for the young men currently enrolled in the African American Males Pursuing Education Dreams (AAMPED) program.

During the course of the four-day camp, students from various high schools worked with instructors and students from FTCC’s Information Technology department to complete several hands-on experiments including creating their own robots and apps.

Davis ITEC/Cybersecurity Center Associate Dean Dr. Deanne Wesley said the camp gives students an opportunity to get exposed to potential career ideas.

As society continues to rely more and more on technology, there is a need for individuals to pursue careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). Since 1990, STEM employment has grown 79% and computer jobs have seen an increase as well. While the numbers show there are opportunities out there, minorities are underrepresented in STEM careers.

According to the Pew Research Center, blacks only represent 9% of STEM workers and Hispanics represent only 7%. Wesley said, “Our task is to build a pipeline and this camp is just one way we’re doing that. We want to get the African American males in these career pathways that pay very well.”

She said after meeting with AAMPED Director Richard Watts, they decided their two organizations were a perfect match for the summer program. They decided FTCC would provide all the resources and AAMPED would provide the students.

“We’re trying to give them everything to get them interested and bring them awareness,” said Wesley. “These are great students and we’re just excited about the partnership and we feel good about what we’re doing.”

Watts spoke highly of the young men in the camp as well. He said throughout the camp, you could see how excited the campers were when completing assignments.

“The young men are excited and engaged, you tell by how they’re behaving. They’re really appreciative of what’s going on,” said Watts. “It’s all about exposure. In order for us to have the same opportunities, we have to provide our young men with more opportunities, because in most cases it just is not there.”

On the last day of camp, there was an awards ceremony where students showed a PowerPoint presentation detailing everything they learned over the four days of camp. When discussing his experiences, Zyaire Williams, a rising senior at Middle College of Forsyth, said he decided to attend the camp because he wanted to sharpen his coding skills.

Stering Fair, also a rising senior at Early College of Forsyth, said what he enjoyed most was the robotics course. After creating their own robots, campers had the opportunity to take them home. Fair said, “It was very interesting learning how things are put together and using coding to figure out the movements of the robot.”

When discussing his experience, Trevor Helm said he learned a lot about how technology is used in the modern era. He continued, “Technology is a big thing that affects other industries. Even when making stuff like laundry detergent, technology plays an important role. This camp really opens your eyes to a lot of stuff.”

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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