Bridgeport high school students enroll in 24-week intensive engineering program at Fairfield University

Image: McAuliffeFairfield University's School of Engineering is launching a new Saturday program this week to excite students from high schools in Bridgeport about the wonders and promise of engineering.

The Computing Education Academy (CEA) will run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for 24 Saturdays during the 2013-14 academic school year, and will be attended by 20 high school sophomores and juniors selected from the Bridgeport Public Schools and the Diocese of Bridgeport. Grants have also funded CEA for another class of twenty students who will begin the program in fall of 2014.

"It's so vital to get young people in the United States interested in areas like computing and software engineering, because they're going to grow up to be our next generation of scientists, engineers and innovators," said Bruce W. Berdanier, Ph.D., professor and dean of the School of Engineering. "This endeavor complements our strategic goal to enhance student interest in engineering and to increase the visibility of the importance of engineering to society through a student-centered approach."

That mission is vital. The need to develop scientists and engineers in the nation is arguably now more important than ever to stay competitive in a global society. "We believe high school students who have experiences like the Computing Education Academy will want to go on to study engineering in higher education," Dr. Berdanier said.

Funded by grants from various corporate organizations, including ASML and the United Illuminating Company, CEA will provide opportunities for students to learn key computing concepts and basic computer programming through hands-on activities. Fairfield's Software Engineering Department faculty designed the curriculum and will teach it with the assistance of School of Engineering graduate and undergraduate students.

Major goals include establishing a fun learning community, according to Amalia Rusu, Ph.D., associate professor of software engineering and CEA co-director. "During the first semester, students will be exposed to key computing concepts and learn basic computer programming and web design through hands-on team projects," said Dr. Rusu. "For the second semester, the participants will build their computer programming skills and work on mobile apps teamed with college students."

Promising area students have been selected to be CEA scholars. "High school coordinators from the Bridgeport public schools and from the Diocese of Bridgeport worked with the School of Engineering to recruit great students," said Wook-Sung Yoo, Ph.D., CEA co-director and chair of the Software Engineering Department. The opportunity to work in teams guided by Software Engineering faculty members ensures a good connection with professional practice and actual applications of computational thinking, Dr. Yoo added.

CEA's goals are to increase students' awareness of and motivation to enter computing related college major and computing careers, and broaden and diversify the future computing workforce. Throughout the year, industry professionals from companies will be regularly invited to speak to students about computing career options, while faculty will discuss computing-related majors in higher education.

For more information about Fairfield's School of Engineering, visit

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726,

Posted on September 26, 2013

Vol. 46, No. 58

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