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Arkansas Tech hosts third annual summit to fill S.T.E.M. gaps

The U.S. Department of Labor projects that three in five jobs within the science and technical fields over the coming years will be heavily related to the computing disciplines. Despite this, computer studies enrollment numbers are low. With the number of computer science jobs at a nearly three to one ratio with graduates capable of filling the role, the outlook for the technology sector looks bleak.

Arkansas Tech University in Russellville has taken steps to combat this problem by bringing leading authorities and thinkers in the fields of computer science from around the world to showcase the kinds of opportunities that the job market can offer with a degree in the computer sciences.

“D3: Deleting the Digital Divide” was the slug for the third annual Arkansas Computer Science Education Leadership Summit that took place on Thursday on the Arkansas Tech campus. The mission of the summit was broken down into four simple outcomes.


  1. Identify computer science education policy chances including the K-12 curriculum, university programs, teacher licensure and profession development.
  2. Increase computer science connections between school districts, universities, business and industry.
  3. Explore how and why we must generate interest in computer science in high school.
  4. Increase the computer science pipeline by expanding in-school and out-of-school opportunities.


While the summit speaks on computer sciences in general, the most prominent sector of the field is in coding and computer operation. These types of programs are often breached in classrooms in the later years of high school or sometimes not until students enter college. The aim for many of the programs involved in the summit is to introduce computer programming courses earlier in children’s academic careers.

Graphic done by San Luis Obispo Christian School

Computer coding is an exploding job market but many within the field feel as though it is not a computer coding problem but rather an issue of interest in the sciences in general. To combat this, groups like Project Lead the Way, are looking to implement more science and STEM related courses in the elementary years of education.

Director of School Engagement Kristian Cartwright stresses that though children might be too young to understand deep scientific concepts, they often possess the qualities desired in innovative scientists.

“Your K-5 students already have the qualities of great designers and innovators. PLTW Launch taps into their exploratory nature, engages them to adopt a design thinking mindset through compelling activities, projects and problems that build upon each other and relate to the world around them,” Cartwright said in a release when introducing Project Lead the Way’s Launch K-5 program.

As we move into 2017, Arkansans can expect a push for young students to continue their movement into the sciences through STEM programs but we can see an increased focus on coding and computer sciences in an effort to fill the gap and offer a new generation of cyber-industrialists a place to create.




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