Wolf Point Herald

Code Montana: Initiative To Encourage Montana Students’ Interest In Computer Science Reaches Milestone

After launching at the Baucus Economic Development Summit with an ambitious goal of getting 1,000 Montana high schoolers programming in a year, CodeMontana announced today that more than 500 students have already signed up and completed nearly 14,000 computer programming exercises. “It’s clear that Code Montana has hit a motherlode of demand that is not being met through traditional teaching programs”, commented Greg Gianforte, founder of Right Now Technologies who, along with Rob Irizarry of Startup Bozeman, is driving the initiative. Not only has the student interest been overwhelming, numerous members of Montana Programmers have stepped in to serve as mentors and coaches.

Montana Programmers (www.montanaprogrammers.org) is one of Montana’s incredible, little known hotbeds of talent. Self organized and totally bootstrapped, the grassroots organization consists of over 770 computer programmers statewide. They, along with Montana Web Developers and Designers (http://www.mtwda.org/), have organized in local communities to work with CodeMontana high school students.

Gianforte and Irizarry are extremely pleased with the numbers of students taking advantage of Code Montana. “We are especially excited to recognize and reward the exceptional achievement of the program’s participants“, they said. CodeMontana’s October awards for exceptional achievement go to Female Coder of the month Jessica Jorgenson of Bozeman and Male Coder of the Month John Putman of Kalispell. They will both receive prizes from CodeMontana.

“With 565 students throughout the state signing up for CodeMontana in the first six weeks and completing nearly 14,000 programming exercises, we are well on the way to fulfilling my vision for the first phase of the program”, said Irizarry.

Each pin on the map below designates a Montana town where students are participating in Code-Montana and preparing for future high paying jobs in the state.

Students were thrilled at the opportunity to participate in CodeMontana as evidenced by these comments from the signup process:

“I know pretty much nothing about programming, and it is like an itch that I haven't be able to scratch. I've wanted to learn about programming, but didn't know where to start! I am too impatient to read a book about it, plus there is no one to ask for help from a book.”

“I had never really had an interest in programming until I took a programming class. I realized that there was a HUGE market for people who new how to program, and I liked it, so here we are. I like being able to create things, but I never thought about creating them with computer language before, and I've found that I really enjoy it. I plan on majoring in computer science and mathematics, so there's no telling where I'll end up.”

“I'm interested in learning about programming because it's a useful skill to have, especially in today's world where technology is prevalent. Being able to understand software problems and solve them, as well as understanding HTML codes and the things that go along with them, is a skill that I am very interested in.”

“I am interested in learning about programming, because I am interested in learning about computers and can find my way around a computer. I would like to apply the knowledge that I will learn in Business Professionals of America. I currently like working on computers and would like to find out if I want my future to be in computer programing.”

“I have always found an interest in all things related to computers. I enjoy gaming, social media, and various other things related to the web. I am in a class that we are developing a website, and I would like to learn more about the things I can do with it. I am also in a class that has to do with developing the yearbook. I want to go to college for computer science in Bozeman, and I hope that the things I learn through this will help me in my future!”

“In all honesty, it's part of the future. From everything from Games to Apps, they all require programming. As for me in particular, as someone that enjoys video games, and everything related, I think it would be fun to learn how to make those games. I also think it would be fun to just make programs in general. All in all, it's just an interesting subject that I would like to learn more about, in case I decide to take a job doing programming for a living.”

“I am interested in computer programming because it has always interested me how computers function and how they can do such complex tasks. It is one of the first things I think of when working in a new program, wondering how it does what it does. Computer programming is also one of two careers that I am considering going into the most. I have talked to teachers around my school about offering any computer classes, but they have no plans to offer one anytime soon. When I heard about this program I was so excited that I finally had found somewhere I could start learning about programming.”

Currently, there are over 400 jobs open in the state of Montana requiring programming skills and computer science expertise. Today’s students have an interest in being well trained for these positions.

Code Montana plans to continue building a robust pipeline of students who will pursue computer science and engineering at the undergraduate level and the graduate level. “We must meet the challenge of making that kind of education available in Montana” says Gianforte.

To learn more or to sign up, visit www.CodeMontana.org.