New Technology Immersion Program Helps Girls Pursue IT Careers

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A new technology immersion program helps girls pursue IT careers by encouraging them to write code.

Grace Dana wants to be a veterinarian, though her friends think she has a talent for writing.

At 13, the Laurel, Neb., eighth-grader has options, and the University of Nebraska at Omaha will make the case this week that whatever field she pursues, she consider enhancing her career with an information science and technology education.

Grace is one of 30 eighth- and ninth-grade girls chosen for a new five-day information technology immersion program, called CodeCrush, starting today on campus. The students will have the opportunity thanks to the Women in IT Initiative fundraising effort that UNO launched in May.

Grace will learn the basics of cybersecurity and how to write code for a mobile app. She’ll tour First Data and get a behind-the-scenes look at how the Henry Doorly Zoo uses technology. She’ll learn from UNO information technology students about campus programs and life.

And she’ll learn about opportunities after college, hearing from UNO alumnae and from Omaha entrepreneurs about the job market and careers here.

Boost to science and technology education

The university and a volunteer task force of industry professionals are raising $400,000 for this and other programs that will introduce girls to careers in IT. UNO hopes to double the number of women in its College of Information Science & Technology and expand the pipeline of skilled IT workers in the Omaha-area labor force.

New Technology Immersion Program Helps Girls Pursue IT Careers

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The money will cover this “immersion experience” as well as mentoring, recruiting, scholarships and summer workshops and internships.

Seventy-one students, some from as far as Gering, Neb., Iowa City and Watertown, S.D., competed for 30 openings. They were nominated by their schools and wrote an essay as part of the application.

Grace lives with her parents near Laurel, where they manage a herd of Charolais cattle. Her parents both have science careers: Logan Dana is farm operations manager at the Haskell Agricultural Laboratory at Concord, and Staci Dana is a microbiologist, testing meat at Tyson Foods in Dakota City.

Grace’s teacher nominated her to participate in the UNO event after noticing that she showed an interest when they participated in the Hour of Code, a nationwide computer science education initiative.

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New Technology Immersion Program Helps Girls Pursue IT Careers

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