C Spire dials up C3 coding challenge for high school students
Tech firm hopes to spur more interest in IT-related jobs and careers in Mississippi
Pepper the humanoid robot will make Magnolia State debut at the event
C Spire, a Mississippi-based telecommunications and technology services company, is hosting a coding challenge next month to encourage high school students in the Magnolia state to pursue a degree and career in information technology.
The day-long C3 event on Thursday, April 13 at the company’s Ridgeland headquarters will feature teams of up to four students each from 15 public and private high schools in Hinds, Madison and Rankin counties competing for up to $24,000 in cash scholarships and other tech-related prizes.
Students and an adviser from each school will learn how to use basic elements of Java coding and artificial intelligence concepts to control an object throughout the day-long competition. C Spire will assign employees with IT backgrounds and experience to help each team.
“We’re planning a fun, entertaining and educational day for all of the students who participate in the program,” said Carla Lewis, chief information officer for C Spire. “Hopefully, we can inspire and encourage these students to seriously consider IT as a career path.”
Workers with a background in computer science are in high demand and short supply in Mississippi. Employers currently have over 1,200 unfilled job openings due to the serious shortage of trained, qualified IT workers, Lewis said. The average salary for qualified IT workers is nearly $69,000 a year, almost double the statewide average.
Lewis said the C3 program can serve as an important first step to increase interest in computer science. In 2016, only 16 students in the state took the AP computer science exam and only three schools statewide offered the AP computer science course in 2015-16, according to Code.org, a computer science education advocacy group.
With programs like C3, Hour of Code, Kids Code Mississippi, outreach efforts by Mississippi colleges and universities and non-profit programs like the Basecamp Coding Academy in Water Valley, Lewis said there is a growing sense of value and appreciation for educating and preparing more students for job opportunities in the technology arena.
“We live in a software-defined world where code directly impacts just about every aspect of our life,” Lewis said. “Computer science drives innovation and creates jobs throughout our economy, but we need to do more to encourage schools to offer courses and for young people to pursue IT as a viable career.”
For more information about C3, send an email to email@example.com.
WHEN: Thursday, April 13, 2017
8 a.m. – 8 p.m., CST
WHERE: C Spire corporate headquarters
1018 Highland Colony Parkway
Ridgeland, MS 39157
WHO: Carla Lewis, CIO, C Spire
High school students and advisors, Hinds, Madison and Rankin counties
Pepper, 4-foot tall humanoid robot from Softbank Robotics America
CONTACT: Dave Miller, Senior Media Relations Manager, C Spire