From Hackers to High School: Computer science is more important than ever | ESP IT From Hackers to High School: Computer science is more important than ever | ESP IT


From Hackers to High School: Computer science is more important than ever

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.
Programs to teach computer science language are being created all across the country, taking the lessons learned from Hackers to heart. But, according to only one in ten high schools in the nation currently offer courses in computer science. Thanks to schools like Burnsville, Minnesota can proudly say we have some of the few.
Tech entrepreneur Hadi Partovi recently made it his mission to give students options to learn how to code on their own, while also advocating the importance of learning computer science to schools.  His mission, which is based online at is endorsed by Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and other leaders of large tech companies. The tech-celebrities created a video, encouraging students to learn computer programming skills and to become active in their desire to learn. In response to the video, 4,000 teachers signed a petition to bring computer programming to their schools and 13,000 programmers volunteered to help them do it.
Computer science is a growing field, and while feature films tend to portray IT pros as criminals or vigilante heroes, teaching students IT skills and encouraging them in this career path, could solve future employment issues for the state and for the country. Plus, the growing number of high school students learning about the IT industry means more people who can save the world from the next computer virus and/or embezzlement scam.


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