AT&T Gift Supports K-12 STEM Outreach Program through USA’s School of Computing
Posted on November 19, 2021 by Keith Lynn
Mobile, Ala. AT&T Alabama recently contributed a gift of $40,000 to the University of South Alabama School of Computing to support its K-12 STEM Outreach Program. The goal of the program is to provide access to technology education and to help attract local K-12 students into computing and cybersecurity disciplines. The program strives to motivate and encourage students to pursue STEM related careers and help to fill the pipeline of technology professionals.
“At AT&T, we have been investing in our Alabama communities and making connections for Alabamians for over 140 years. We recognize that technology has the power to be an important part of addressing societal and global challenges and are proud to support the University of South Alabama School of Computing to help equip students with STEM resources to reach their academic dreams,” said Wayne Hutchens, President of AT&T Alabama. “When our students succeed, we all succeed. They are our tomorrow.”
To address the critical need for STEM education, the School of Computing is actively engaged in formal K-12 outreach through its Center for Forensics, Information Technology and Security (CFITS). The Partner School Program is facilitated through the Center and works with local schools and school systems to schedule two-hour instructional sessions on the USA campus. Schools bring an entire grade level to the lab, and students are able to participate in STEM-related content linked to their curriculum during Hands-On Learning Lab Activities, referred to as HOLLAs.
Specific HOLLAs with age-appropriate content are selected by classroom teachers and include topics including computer programming, animation, web page development, video podcasting, app development, security and ethics, project management and use of computer applications. Sessions accommodate a wide range of skill levels and have a strong focus on team-based learning and problem solving. HOLLAs are offered to partner schools at no cost.
While most HOLLA sessions have been conducted in person on campus, the recent coronavirus pandemic caused a shift in content delivery and allowed the School of Computing to explore and provide extracurricular STEM activities in a remote format. This allowed expansion of the School’s outreach capabilities to outlying counties where students may have been limited in their access to technology and STEM educational activities.
The gift from AT&T Alabama will enable the School to continue to provide access to extracurricular, career-oriented STEM activities and to reach and impact a broader and more diverse student population. The funding will be used to purchase and install an upgraded server that will better support remote HOLLAs, upgrade the hard drives in the computer lab, provide necessary materials and supplies and provide staffing and instructional support to strengthen the School’s reach to K-12 students in the greater Mobile area.
Dr. Harold Pardue, Interim Dean of the School of Computing, says AT&T’s gift is a testament to their commitment to community engagement and access to technology.
“We are grateful to our industry partner, AT&T Alabama, who works hand-in-hand with the School of Computing to support STEM education, enhance connectivity and provide greater access to technology to K-12 students and teachers in our area,” said Pardue. “AT&T has provided transformative support for our computing students and programs over the years. Their philanthropic gifts have benefitted our summer cybersecurity camps, and this past year, AT&T Alabama provided tuition scholarships for 15 Information Technology students. With this recent contribution, we are delighted to partner with AT&T Alabama to encourage STEM awareness and promote careers in the technology sector in order to enhance overall connectivity for all Alabamians.”
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