What if technology could help you get through the lunch line more efficiently, allow you to unlock your locker with your phone, or help you catch the school bus? These are the kinds of everyday problems high school students at Arsenal Technical, Pike, and Providence Cristo Rey high schools addressed with IT projects through iDEW, the Informatics Diversity-Enhanced Workforce program.
End-of-semester student project showcases at each high school illustrated the creativity and IT skills of the student teams, who are tasked with creating a real-world application of what they’ve learned. For example, data visualization projects covered topics such as crime rates, immigration, government spending, student GPAs, and counting calories.
The iDEW program grew significantly in the 2016-17 school year, extending the reach of the initiative and opportunities for Indianapolis students. More than 260 Indianapolis high school students have now taken classes through iDEW, a nationally recognized STEM program created by the Indiana University School of Informatics and Computing at IUPUI. The program builds a direct pipeline to post-secondary IT education and IT careers, focusing on opportunities for women and underrepresented minority students.
“Students are very excited about what they can learn in this program,” says Douglas Coats, department chair of business and IT education at Pike High School, where iDEW class offerings are increasing to meet the student demand.
The inaugural 2015 iDEW program started with three classes. There are now 14 classes (which includes a new class at Northwest High School), where students follow a project-based curriculum designed by faculty at the School of Informatics and Computing at IUPUI that covers subjects such as mobile trivia apps, the Internet of Things, video games, and data visualization. Learning modules covering chatbots and robotics will be introduced next year. Student teams have completed 150 IT semester-end projects since the program began.
Students participate in iDEW through their senior years. And the length of the program is matched in depth—iDEW doesn’t stop when school is out of session. Many students enrolled in iDEW classes are involved in iDEW learning experiences this summer, through high school Summer Workshops at the School of Informatics and Computing at IUPUI, industry visits, internships at Lilly and Cummins, and IT certification training at Ivy Tech Community College.