Nov 13, 2013 11:41 AM by Chet Layman - MTN News

CodeMontana offers Montana students a unique opportunity for bright future

Just about every aspect of our world involves some type of computer - and each of those computers must be programmed.

However, fewer than 50 Montana students graduated in Computer Science last year, missing out on a chance at one of the nearly 500 good paying jobs available in that field.

MTN's Chet Layman is on Special Assignment to see how CodeMontana is trying to change that.

The creation of CodeMontana, an online Computer Science opportunity, was sparked within a local company.

"So in a certain sense, the graduates with Computer Science degrees were like our seed corn, and if we got that seed corn then we could hire accounting majors and marketing majors and you know we even hired a few lawyers," said Greg Gianforte, CodeMontana creator. "But without the computer science grads the rest of RightNow Technologies would not have been possible."

The opportunity to learn programming is now available for all Montana high school students.

"It was really pretty startling to a lot of teachers in the education field, not really realizing we're not teaching kids this and we need kids to be able to do this. It's not just something you can do overnight but yet we can now," said Kerri Kobb, Bozeman High School teacher. "It's really cool."

It appears to be working, according students.

"It teaches students how to code and it just does it so efficiently," said Hans Jinneman, a student at Bozeman High School.

There's a lot of different ways to program and different styles that people prefer that I didn't really know about before," said Henry Barker, another student at Bozeman High School. "So it's cool to see all the different ways to do things."

It's not surprising that students at Bozeman high School are involved in CodeMontana, especially with the school's size and it's access to the resources of Montana State University. But CodeMontana is designed for all students. Even students from schools that currently don't have programming in their curriculum.

Carrie Meyer-Wolfe teaches at Anaconda High School and heard about Code Montana through a TV newscast.

"So I came to school and I broadcasted that newscast to all my students in my classes," said Meyer-Wolfe. "I told some other teachers about it and then the kids just started to tell me they were interested."

CodeMontana is working in Anaconda too, for those already interested in Computer Science.

"I've been sort of looking into coding and computer science for a few years now because I think this is something that I want to spend time improving," said Emmy Keenan, Anaconda High School student.

"I'm writing some FOR loops and WHILE loops and IF statements," said Eli Duckels, another student at Anaconda High School.

It will take some time to see if CodeMontana makes a difference, although those teaching the program seem sure it's working already.

"A lot of people, they go they go in to these degrees and they don't know what they're going to do afterwards, so here is something that's already built-in, there's jobs that are there," said Meyer-Wolfe.

"I feel like it's a game changer," said Kobb. "It goes from wanting to do something to there's no reason not to."


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