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CIS Faculty Teaching STEM Lessons During Girls Coding Project

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Buffalo State, working with WNY STEM Hub and the Girl Scouts of Western New York, will host 74 girls interested in learning more about science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) during the 2019 Girls Coding Project, July 15–26.

Buffalo State faculty members Chuck Arbutina and Jim Gerland in the Computer Information Systems Department are participating in the event that will teach coding skills in engaging ways to girls in sixth through 12th grade who attend schools throughout Western New York. All of the sessions will take place between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Monday through Friday in the Technology Building.

This marks the fourth annual Girls Coding Project at Buffalo State. Funding partners include General Motors Tonawanda Engine, First Niagara Foundation, Girl Scouts of Western New York, Beckage Law Firm, Best Buy, and the American Association of University Women (AAUW).

“The idea is to introduce girls to STEM career paths, with an emphasis on computer science,” said Michelle Kavanaugh, president emeritus and acting executive director of WNY STEM Hub. “We’re so pleased to be able to build upon the event through the years. Its success can be attributed to the commitment of the partners and the fact that we’re the only program in Buffalo that provides such a program for girls that removes barriers to access and equity.”

This year’s event comes at a time when technology companies are facing increasing pressure to address workplace issues like sexual harassment and a lack of representation by women as well as minorities among technical employees. And a study released by Cornell University in June reveals that if current trends continue, parity between the number of male and female computer science authors will not be reached until the end of the twenty-first century.

“Computing permeates every aspect of our lives and even though computing jobs offer some of the highest salaries available, women are vastly underrepresented in computing fields," said Sarbani Banerjee, professor of CIS. "The Girls Coding Project, through rigorous hands-on computing workshops offered by CIS faculty members, attempts to increase a meaningful participation of girls in computing. Our hope is that the camp sparks an interest in computing among middle- and high school-girls that continues until college.”

A Demo Day on Friday, July 26, will culminate the two-week program. Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul will visit with the participants and view the projects the girls created during the program.