Schools

CENG impacts community through free coding classes

By Isabella Borkovic and Nathaniel Latif

Being a minority in Silicon Valley comes with limited opportunities and several obstacles, and this past year, the Computer Engineers of the Next Generation (CENG) club at Los Altos High School has taken on several projects to help empower young, underprivileged minorities in our community.

This year, we ran two classes concurrently during our sessions, which allowed us to provide more free coding classes at Santa Rita and Monta Loma elementary schools as well as expand our class offerings to include Scratch, JavaScript and Python.

To provide more effective teaching, we implemented the Junior Mentor program. The Junior Mentor program takes star students from previous classes and designates them in classrooms, but in a different role than before. Instead of learning from us, a Junior Mentor’s role is to help his or her fellow students and assist us with teaching the courses.

Alongside the Junior Mentor program, we have set up the Inspire program, where we create videos to show at the Parent Showcase at the end of every class. To create the video, we interview underrepresented minority engineers and ask them how they overcame the toughest obstacles they have faced in their career. We hope that these programs can inspire our students to pursue the path of computer science despite the difficulties they may face in the future.

Since the inception of CENG in 2016, we have taught 214 students and volunteered 1,411 hours. The economic value of the coding classes is more than $75,000. AI4ALL has recognized our community impact; we are the recipient of the AI4ALL Community Impact Grant of $1,000. This allowed us to offer two concurrent classes at Santa Rita and Monta Loma in winter and spring.

The CENG journey is not over yet. We will continue this path of inspiring a whole new generation to take command of the computer science field. To reach a larger audience and encourage past students to continue learning computer science, we have expanded our online presence. Recently, we put up our new, full, seven-lesson online Scratch course, which officially kicks off the CENG Online Coding Academy, an endeavor we are very excited about.

So far, we have created online classes only for Scratch, but we will add curriculum for JavaScript and Python over the summer.

For more information, visit cengclass.org.

Isabella Borkovic is CENG’s treasurer and Nathaniel Latif the club’s vice president of web development. Both students attend Los Altos High School.

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