Jan 21, 2014 6:48 PM by MTN News
BOZEMAN - CodeMontana officials say the program - after launching at the September Economic Development Summit in Butte with an ambitious goal of getting 1,000 Montana high school students programming in a year - has more than 900 participants who have completed over 26,000 computer programming exercises.
One Montana student is thankful for the program, which he says has changed his life. Lucas Hamilton in Reed Point now plans to pursue a Computer Science degree at the University of Montana next fall in part due to CodeMontana. Although a senior in high school, he had never written a line of code. CodeMontana changed all that.
Another participant from eastern Montana stated, "I like being able to create things, but I never thought about creating them with a computer language before, and I've found that I really enjoy it. I plan on majoring in Computer Science and Mathematics, so there's no telling where I'll end up."
Officials say more than 400 high-paying high-tech jobs are created each year in Montana with starting salaries of $45,000 to $85,000 - but not enough young people are pursuing computer science. Compounding the problem, nine-out-of-10 high schools nationally and most in Montana do not even offer computer programming classes.
"Each CodeMontana participant has completed an average of nearly 30 programming exercises. They are really sinking their teeth into this program. Their work is preparing them for high-paying, high-tech jobs that exist right here in Montana", commented Greg Gianforte, founder of Right Now Technologies who, along with Rob Irizarry of Startup Bozeman, is driving the initiative.
CodeMontana participants are high school students from every corner of the state with 140 separate communities represented.
Gianforte and Irizarry are extremely pleased with the numbers of students taking advantage of Code Montana. "We are especially excited to recognize and reward the exceptional achievement of the program's participants", they said.
CodeMontana's November awards for exceptional achievement go to Female Coder of the month Sydney Hayes of Lewiston and Male Coder of the Month Nick Sundberg of Florence. December awards for exceptional achievement go to Female Coder of the month Amber Clayton of Anaconda and Male Coder of the Month Evan Iddings of Kalispell. They will both receive prizes from CodeMontana.
CodeMontana is a free program for all Montana high school students. Participants access an engaging, self-paced online curriculum developed by two Stanford Computer Science graduates that teaches them the basics of software development. Participants compete for $10,000 of prizes while learning how to program.
Interested students should sign up at the www.CodeMontana.org web site. Each student will have unlimited access to the on-line curriculum for 90 days after sign up. Prizes will be awarded monthly based on progress with the curriculum and the first 1,000 participants will receive a free CodeMontana tee-shirt.