It's Summer, But Local Teens Are Animated to Come to UC Classroom

Twenty area African American high schoolers are advancing their computer skills thanks to a free, one-week program at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Applied Science (CAS). 

The students, ranging in age from 13 to 19 and hailing from grades 9 through 12, are developing animated cartoons, designing database software, and learning networking skills, thanks to the UC Summer Academy of Information Technology that started on Monday and runs through June 20.

According to founder Hazem Said, director of the CAS Center for Information Technology and Community Development, the week-long computer boot camp met for the first time last year with 11 students.  This year, it’s almost doubled its numbers with 20 students enrolled.  Leading this year’s effort are Said, as well as Tom Wulf, assistant professor of information engineering technology, and Mark Stockman, assistant professor, information engineering technology.  Four College of Applied Science students are assisting:  Alyson Davis, Josh Maag, Joel Willis and Fazel Khan.

According to Said, the purpose of the program is to augment the computer skills and education students receive in their regular curriculums.  A secondary purpose is to get high schoolers comfortable in the college environment.  “We have an orientation meeting and a ‘graduation’ meeting with both students and parents.  As early as possible, we want to implant the idea of going to and finishing college,” explained Said.

Matthew Smith, right, with UC student Joel Willis

Matthew Smith, right, with UC student Joel Willis

One of those attending is Matthew Smith, a junior from Purcell Marian High School where he plays football and baseball as well as wrestles.  Because of his interest in sports, one of Smith’s projects includes an animation that features his favorite professional teams as well as images of one of his high school teams.  Smith stated, “I’ve always been interested in computers and engineering.  This is a good opportunity for me because the material is new, and you can combine with interests you already have," like sports.  Other animation projects include an interactive map of Ghana where users can click on different sections to learn regional names, as well as animation of the Jamaican jungle. 

Smith’s fellow classmate at Purcell Marian, Darryl Sloan, has produced a number of animations already, related to pop culture figures and movies as well as cars.  Sloan, who says he plans to participate in next summer’s computer camp, added that he’s seen his skills improve from when he started on Monday.  “Something that took me five minutes to do before takes me two minutes now,” he said.

The high school students – from Shroder Paideia Academy, Sycamore Junior High School, Roger Bacon High School , Hughes Center, Withrow High School, Colerain High School, Purcell Marian High School and Aiken High School as well as some who are home schooled – begin their computer week camp every day at 9 a.m. in labs located at the College of Applied Science.  With tutoring from the UC faculty and students, they then work on projects that will actually be used next year to show a new crop of high schoolers what can be accomplished in the week-long program.  After this week, their efforts will be posted at http://www.citcd.uc.edu/sait.

The Summer Academy of Information Technology is funded by UC’s Urban Universities Program; the UC College of Applied Science and its Department of Math, Physics and Computing Technology; and the college's Center for Information Technology and Community Development (CITCD); as well as Course Technology, a division of Thomson Learning Inc.

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