Although many summer activities are canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a newly launched initiative from IUPUI's award-winning IT workforce development program is providing 625 local high school students in underrepresented minorities the opportunity to participate in STEM-related workshops and trainings through a virtual format.
Established in 2015 by the School of Informatics and Computing at IUPUI, the Informatics Diversity-Enhanced Workforce, or iDEW, program has launched the AT&T iDEW Summer Distance Program.
This year's activities, which run through Aug. 1, include Scrum training/project management certification, Code Black Indy-Salesforce project build-out training, Black Data Processing Associates-iDEW mentorship and a customized "speaking college," as well as a virtual workshop in game and creature design taught by school faculty. In addition, students will be guided by trained IUPUI student mentors, who will encourage and support them along the way.
iDEW provides free computing by design (CxD) support and instruction to students from eight area high schools -- Pike, Providence Cristo Rey, Arsenal Technical, Herron, George Washington, Riverside, McKenzie Center for Innovation and Technology, and Southport -- and has reached more than 1,680 students through its curriculum. The program, which recently completed its fifth year, has graduated 492 students, and over 90 percent are now attending college, 80 percent in STEM-related majors.
Beyond completing learning modules in robotics, Internet of Things, trivia apps, chatbots/artificial intelligence, and video game design and data visualization, iDEW students are offered internship opportunities, visit IT industries, receive SAT prep assistance, and attend summer workshops and national IT conferences. In addition to building coding skills, students develop confidence and learn teamwork and communication.
The AT&T iDEW Summer Distance Program is made possible by a $50,000 grant from the AT&T Foundation and will fund students' participation in these summer technology workshops and trainings.
"We are proud to support programs like IUPUI's iDEW that are helping people from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds build the skills they need for successful careers in STEM fields," said Bill Soards, president of AT&T Indiana. "The high school students participating in the program will become the future workers who help our world stay connected when we aren't able to be together in person."
The summer program is also supported by a $10,000 grant from the Donaldson Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Donaldson Filtration Solutions, which has manufacturing or distribution sites in Anderson, Frankfort and Rensselaer.
"We are excited and honored to contribute to the success of the iDEW program," said Chini Zeman, a Donaldson Foundation board member. "Donaldson has a strong footprint in the greater Indianapolis community, and this program allows us to help support our community while aligning perfectly with our core charter of supporting educational opportunities for those who otherwise might not have them."
"We have grown the iDEW program in size and scope over the last five years," added Mathew J. Palakal, senior executive associate dean of the School of Informatics and Computing and program director for iDEW. "These grants give us needed resources to fund this unique opportunity to benefit underserved youth in the Indianapolis community during the summer months as well."