Teens get a jump on computer science at UB this summer

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Unique program enables students to work with researchers and take analytics and programming classes not offered at most high schools.

 

Samuel Kim wants to make movies–great 3-D blockbusters, to be exact. But in order to do that, Kim says needs to learn a lot more about maximizing the power of computer-based animation programs used to make films like Zootopia or The Secret Life of Pets.

“I need to learn to extend their capabilities of what normal people can’t do,” says Kim. “I read when they were making Zootopia, they had issues making the animals’ hair smoother. They had to call in programmers to help.”

So this summer, the 18-year-old Stanford teenager has come to the University of Bridgeport to participate in Young Data Science (YDS) for High School Students, a unique day camp was created by faculty from UB’s Computer Science and Engineering Program.

The camp, which runs July 11-22 at South Hall, exposes high school students to Java, an object-based programming language; a data-driven programming system known as Python; and the field of analytics in which data is examined and used for a variety of purposes, from making companies run more efficiently to tracking diseases or anticipating markets.

Classes are enhanced with hands-on research projects that are being advised by UB faculty and graduate students. Luncheon lectures by UB faculty and visiting professors from CUNY, plus a field trip to the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, New York, to confer with scientists there about their work, round out the program.
Such offerings typically aren’t offered at most high schools, says UB Computer Science and Engineering Professor Dr. Jeongkyu Lee, who designed the Young Data Science program after area families began asking him for guidance.

“I was getting calls from parents. ‘My son is very interested in computer science. He’s taken courses [online] through Kahn Academy, but he wants more. Who can help?’“

Lee immediately offered to create a program for students who want to know more but weren’t sure where to turn. Ten high schoolers from the Tri-State Region are enrolled.

“I believe it’s our responsibility to reach out with our experience and knowledge to the community,” he says. “With YDS, I am trying to give student the opportunity to meet researchers and professors they can keep in touch with. I want them to get to know about data science. Right now, it’s a small program, but I believe it could be expanded.”

Media contact: Leslie Geary, (203) 576-4625, lgeary@bridgeport.edu

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