Amazon funds equitable computer science curriculum
Amazon has made a US$15 million donation via its computer science education program, Amazon Future Engineer, to non-profit Code.org to support the development and launch of a new equity-minded Advanced Placement computer science programming curriculum.
While the new curriculum will teach students the same tools and concepts as the existing AP Computer Science A (AP CSA) course, it is built inclusively to take into account the unique cultural perspectives, interests, and experiences of Black, Latino, Native American (BLNA), and other minority students.
By using a research-backed and culturally responsive approach to teaching in the curriculum, Code.org and Amazon Future Engineer hope to increase equitable access, participation, and achievement in computer science (CS) among high school students of all backgrounds and encourage more BLNA students to pursue careers in engineering.
Black students made up just 15% of the US student body in 2020 and with the College Board reporting that black students who take the AP CSA course are seven times more likely to study CS in college, Amazon’s hope with this new course is that “even more students, from a wider variety of backgrounds, will inspired and prepared to pursue computer science in high school, college, and beyond”, states Jeff Wilke, former CEO Worldwide Consumer, Amazon.
So how will the new curriculum be more equitable?
To make AP CSA more equitable and accessible to all, Code.org will design the new curriculum to incorporate students’ diverse interests and experiences into CS concepts. The goal is to empower students to investigate real-world concerns during class activities. Add to this, open-ended projects to enable students to demonstrate mastery of concepts that make no assumptions about their cultural backgrounds or life experiences.
Students will also develop and model valuable, real-world career skills, such as conducting code reviews, tracing code segments, reading documentation, and writing code, with both the user and other developers in mind. Through first-hand experiences, students will ultimately be able to envision themselves as capable software engineers.
Rolling out the curriculum nationwide
State education leaders in the states of Georgia, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania have pledged to expand AP CSA during the 2021-2022 school year, with Code.org making the new AP CSA curriculum available for all schools nationwide for the 2022-2023 school year.
Code.org will supply the curriculum and professional development workshops needed to offer the curriculum to all participating schools.
In addition to working with states, Code.org is forming both an Education Advisory Council, composed of representatives from non-profits, colleges, and universities, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and an Industry Advisory Council with representatives from a variety of employers. These will provide feedback to ensure the new AP CSA curriculum best prepares students for the next step in their education and careers.
Amazon’s program inspires and educates
Passionate about the power of computer science to unleash creativity and unlock human potential, Amazon Future Engineer is the ecommerce giant’s signature CS program intended to inspire and educate students from underserved communities and groups currently underrepresented in tech to pursue careers in computer science.
In addition, AWS is the strategic cloud solution that powers the Code.org platform for this new curriculum and other offerings like Hour of Code tutorials, ensuring millions of students across the world can learn uninterrupted using advance, secure cloud computing technologies.
Intelliwave SiteSense boosts APTIM material tracking
“We’ve been engaged with the APTIM team since early 2019 providing SiteSense, our mobile construction SaaS solution, for their maintenance and construction projects, allowing them to track materials and equipment, and manage inventory.
We have been working with the APTIM team to standardize material tracking processes and procedures, ultimately with the goal of reducing the amount of time spent looking for materials. Industry studies show that better management of materials can lead to a 16% increase in craft labour productivity.
Everyone knows construction is one of the oldest industries but it’s one of the least tech driven comparatively. About 95% of Engineering and Construction data captured goes unused, 13% of working hours are spent looking for data and around 30% of companies have applications that don’t integrate.
With APTIM, we’re looking at early risk detection, through predictive analysis and forecasting of material constraints, integrating with the ecosystem of software platforms and reporting on real-time data with a ‘field-first’ focus – through initiatives like the Digital Foreman. The APTIM team has seen great wins in the field, utilising bar-code technology, to check in thousands of material items quickly compared to manual methods.
There are three key areas when it comes to successful Materials Management in the software sector – culture, technology, and vendor engagement.
Given the state of world affairs, access to data needs to be off site via the cloud to support remote working conditions, providing a ‘single source of truth’ accessed by many parties; the tech sector is always growing, so companies need faster and more reliable access to this cloud data; digital supply chain initiatives engage vendors a lot earlier in the process to drive collaboration and to engage with their clients, which gives more assurance as there is more emphasis on automating data capture.
It’s been a challenging period with the pandemic, particularly for the supply chain. Look what happened in the Suez Canal – things can suddenly impact material costs and availability, and you really have to be more efficient to survive and succeed. Virtual system access can solve some issues and you need to look at data access in a wider net.
Solving problems comes down to better visibility, and proactively solving issues with vendors and enabling construction teams to execute their work. The biggest cause of delays is not being able to provide teams with what they need.
On average 2% of materials are lost or re-ordered, which only factors in the material cost, what is not captured is the duplicated effort of procurement, vendor and shipping costs, all of which have an environmental impact.
As things start to stabilise, APTIM continues to utilize SiteSense to boost efficiencies and solve productivity issues proactively. Integrating with 3D/4D modelling is just the precipice of what we can do. Access to data can help you firm up bids to win work, to make better cost estimates, and AI and ML are the next phase, providing an eco-system of tools.
A key focus for Intelliwave and APTIM is to increase the availability of data, whether it’s creating a data warehouse for visualisations or increasing integrations to provide additional value. We want to move to a more of an enterprise usage phase – up to now it’s been project based – so more people can access data in real time.