Angelina Jolie and Jonny Lee Miller looked pretty cool in their 1995 movie, Hackers, but unfortunately they did not inspire a nation of students to learn computer science. In retrospect they did contribute to creating awareness that students are capable of excelling in the subject. Imagine what path Dade “Zero Cool” Murphy (Miller) might have taken with focused classes that taught him the many ways he could use his skills, beyond pulling pranks on the secret service.
As a state, Minnesota is ranked highly for open IT jobs, but the real issue is if there are enough qualified applicants available to fill roles in the future. With two-thirds of the roughly 150,000 computer science jobs in the country that go unfilled each year, there is a growing need for more high schools to prepare students for possible computer science careers. While some, like Burnsville High School, are home to one of six winners of the Minnesota Aspirations for Women in Computing Award and have curriculum available for students, many more leave it up to students’ own devices if they want to learn. While many IT professionals find success with self-teaching until the college level, many are now participating in creating online programs to make the learning process simpler for future generations.