The region's only all-girls computer coding program concluded a summer session at SUNY Buffalo State Friday. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley says students from 36-area schools participated in The Girls Coding Project.
“STEM is a girls thing, but guess what else – coding – is what?” asked Nina Heard, communications manager at GM’s Tonawanda Engine plant.
Heard was one of the guests who spoke to the girls during their 'graduation' day from the summer coding project.
GM is one of several partners for this STEM learning program. Heard encouraged the young ladies to work toward coding and STEM careers.
“Recently I learned that every 26 minutes General Motors hires or fills a position for a STEM related job,” remarked Heard.
AT&T, Western New York STEM Hub, Girl Scouts, and Buffalo State College teamed to present the program. The Girls Coding Project allowed the students to learn how to design computer programs, games and Apps.
“Coding is like something behind math – so that you can use games to make a game or like a program or something,” said Julissa Beltran.
Julissa and Julianna Beltran are twins. They are in sixth grade at Hoover Middle School in Kenmore and showed off their basketball game they created at code camp.
“How much did you like this coding camp?” asked Buckley. “I liked it a lot,” replied the twins. “I think I want to join it next year again.”
Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul also spoke to the students, encouraging coding and STEM careers could double their future income making, on average, $80,000 in the state with a STEM degree.
You are so far ahead of someone else,” stated Hochul. “You will double your ability to have earning power – you will double your salary – you double your income – twice as much if you have a STEM degree.”
WNY STEM Hub leader Michelle Kavanaugh said the program included daily visits from women in the computer science field.
“So the girls began to see themselves reflected in their future. These girls were introduced to computer science skills and they were empowering, yes, but they also learned tenacity, hope and their potential place in the future workforce,” Kavanaugh stated.
Buffalo State College Provost for Academic Affairs Melanie Perrault encouraged the girls to stick with STEM and coding for future careers that could lead to breakthrough scientific research, and said coding is about helping people.
“I’m convinced, that in our lifetimes – we are going to cure cancer and the cure for cancer is going to be found – yes, in laboratories, by medical doctors, but I’m also convinced that it is going to be discovered through computer coding,” remarked Perrault. “It’s also about helping us in our health care struggles. It’s also about helping us in our financial systems, also about building infrastructure.”
The summer program ended the second year of The Girls Coding Project.