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IUPUI pilot program teaches high school students to code

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Some high school students in Indianapolis are getting a major head start, with some skills that could help them land a high paying job. This fall, about 70 high school students are learning IT and coding skills from IUPUI students.

24-Hour News 8 attended a class at Arsenal Tech High School. It didn’t take long to realize the class was different than most. On that particular day, Arsenal Tech High School students learned about gaming from Luke Jones, an IUPUI School of Informatics and Computing student. Jones showed the students how he uses his IT skills — the same skills he teaches the teenagers in class.

“We want to try and get a better idea to them of the jobs in the tech industry and what you can actually do with that,” said Jones.

This pilot program started just this year and already the high school students have built a website. Now, they’re working on a financial literacy app. They’ll graduate with skills and a portfolio they can use on college or internship applications.

“It’s not only the experience. We always tell them, ‘What you’re providing us isn’t just for us. Teachers or anythign else. It’s not purely academic. It’s something you can share with your parents, your community and like you said, hold on to and show for potential internships and work later,’” said Jim Lyst with IUPUI.

The program shows students all the career possibilities IT offers.

“Especially since I’m a female, a lot of career options for coding or just anything to do with IT is very open,” said Arsenal Tech junior Damaris Martinez.

“Everybody is going to need coding eventually,” said Arsenal Tech senior Carl Butler.

Several of these students said they know exactly how they’ll use their new skills after high school.

“I want to go to Ball State for business management. I want to own a company,” said Martinez.

Butler said he already has a scholarship to attend Purdue University.

“I want to make games for the new generation,” said Butler.

The teens say it’s easier to picture a future using IT, as they learn from a college student. Their teacher is just a few years ahead of them.

“Because it’s still fresh in their minds, they know, understand where we’re at and they basically,since they’re still in school, they are going to the same things, so they know better ways to like coach us through,” said Butler.

But the mentors leave class feeling just as inspired.

“I’ve always just been trying to make a difference in someone’s life. I think that was a huge struggle, because I never thought I could do that with technology, but now that I realize you can do it with this –it’s made a huge impact on my life. It’s actually why I want to go get my Masters and use my Masters degree, whether to go teach at a university level or later develop something that’s going to impact people’s lives,” said Jones.

The high school students have a chance to graduate with college credit. IUPUI staff works in the classes as well, giving students opportunity to meet future professors and even future employers. In the summer they can go to IUPUI’s campus to keep studying, even when school is out.

The program is currently at Arsenal Tech High School, Pike High School and Providence Cristo Ray High School.