The R.B. Annis Educational Foundation recently joined a growing group of investors in a workforce development project being led by the IU School of Informatics and Computing at IUPUI. Thanks to several local supporters, including a $25,000 gift from R.B. Annis Educational Foundation, school faculty and graduate students will work with high school teachers to bring information technology skills to local high school students to prepare them for academic and future career opportunities in the IT industry.
The Information Technology Diversity-Enhanced Workforce Initiative (iDEW) will engage 90 high school students from three area high schools–Pike, Arsenal Tech, and Providence Christo Rey via a year-round enrichment program that will facilitate their progress towards earning four-year college degrees. The initiative consists of a series of learning engagement modules (LEMS) focused on familiarizing students with core informatics and computing concepts, showcasing real-world application of those concepts, and introducing exciting career opportunities. All LEMs will have an overarching and interactive theme of “Computing for Social Cause” because this has been found attractive to underrepresented students. A program goal is to increase diversity in the IT workforce where jobs are plentiful, but with a lack of qualified, diverse candidates.
Robert B. Annis was the founder of R.B. Annis Instruments, an Indianapolis company that specializes in precision demagnetizing and testing equipment. Mr. Annis was self-taught and honed his technical skills early in his career. “Mr. Annis attended Arsenal Tech High School and the board thinks he would be pleased to see this program being implemented at his alma mater,” said Wayne Weber, an R.B. Annis Educational Foundation board director. The board saw the value and need to invest in the iDEW project, “The speed at which technology is advancing makes this initiative relevant and necessary. Those of us who knew Mr. Annis saw firsthand how innovation and an interest in technology can open doors and pave the way to a bright future, and this program will help to inspire high school students so that they too can have a future full of opportunity,” said Mr. Weber.
iDEW will begin in Fall 2015 and will also focus on elevating the overall academic performance of the participating students as well as:
- improving performances in reading, writing, and interpersonal communication skills;
- obtaining skills in team-based work and collaboration;
- significantly improving self-esteem and confidence.
Proposed learning modules span from basic programming to creation of web sites and mobile applications to understanding the data behind DNA.
“We feel a sense of responsibility in assisting with the preparation of the workforce of the future. There are over 1.4 million unfilled jobs in the IT industry, and the number continues to grow. These jobs are high paying and available all over the United States. We ensure success of these high school students by inspiring interest in informatics & computing and providing them with the necessary skills to secure these jobs,” said Mathew Palakal, executive associate dean of the IU School of Informatics and Computing at IUPUI.