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SRS information technology professionals visit middle school students

January 2, 2019

Savannah River Nuclear Solutions information technology professional Brad Baker recently visited computer science classes at Greenbrier Middle School and, not surprisingly, the most sought-after information concerned video game programming.

SRNS IT professionals from across the Savannah River Site visited several middle schools during Computer Science Week to share their knowledge and experience.

There was no lack of questions for Baker, an Army veteran whose IT experience also included years of military service translating and teaching Arabic.

Questions ranged from computer coding to seeking advice on how best to pursue a career in computer science.

“It’s so important and vital for our students to hear directly from those who do this for a living,” said Brandy Parker, computer science teacher at Greenbrier Middle School. “It gives them the confidence to believe they really can do this and follow their passion. It’s been awesome.”

Parker explained that this event also initiates a variety of related thoughts and ideas in the students’ minds to include future internships, making valuable contacts or even working within businesses or industries they have yet to consider.

“He gave us a lot of insight as to how we could choose a successful pathway if we were to go into coding, programing or be a software engineer,” said Greenbrier Middle School student Colby Metcalf.

Baker said he was encouraged by the high level of interest exhibited throughout all the classes receiving his advice.

“These kids are so smart. I had sixth-graders asking me questions that I would normally have expected from high school students,” said Baker. “There’s so much potential here.”

Computer science drives innovation throughout the U.S. economy, but it remains marginalized throughout K-12 education. To date, only 15 states have adopted a policy to give all high school students access to computer science courses (and of those, only six states give all K-12 students access).

Currently, there are more than 570,000 open computing jobs nationwide; however, only 49,291 computer science students graduated into the workforce last year, according to The Conference Board and National Center for Education Statistics.

Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, a Fluor-led company with Newport News Nuclear and Honeywell, is responsible for the management and operations of the Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site, including the Savannah River National Laboratory.

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