City Plans More High-Tech Classes For Select Students

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The city released details Monday about the software engineering pilot program Mayor Michael Bloomberg first mentioned in his State of the City speech earlier this month. About 1,000 middle and high school students will receive a computer science and software engineering classes next fall, including teacher training.

An engineer and businessman, Bloomberg extolled the virtues of math-based training to help students find employment after school.

“Mathematics is a language,” he said. “And that’s the one that is spoken universally. Everything you touch is more technologically complex than it was before.”

The program, which will launch in 20 selected schools, is expected to grow to 3,500 students by 2016. Students will be exposed to core and elective topics like computer programming, embedded electronics, web design, robotics and 3-D printing.

“We’re creating the home-grown workforce our city needs and teaching our students skills that will open up new doors for them and their future,” Bloomberg said at the High School of Telecommunications Arts and Technology, one of the selected schools.

The program, which is in part funded by local technology companies and private foundations, will also provide extensive professional development training to teachers starting next month.

According to Mike Nolet, co-founder and chief technology officer of AppNexus, a New York-based advertising technology platform, there are not enough software engineers to fill market demand. But it's not just about training new engineers; even the less scientifically inclined should know how to talk high-tech.

“You need designers, you need product managers,” Nolet says. “So all your liberal arts education and design product is critical, but you must understand how the technology works.”

According to the city's Economic Development Corporation, employment in the local technology sector grew by nearly 30 percent from 2005 to 2010.