"Every day in classrooms across the state, we're exposing students to the many college and career opportunities open to them when they pursue computer science," said Governor Raimondo. "I'm thrilled to launch these new minors so that all Rhode Island students know they can keep going in this field after high school and compete for high-paying jobs. This program is another example of how we're leaving no stone unturned as we work to provide all Rhode Islanders with opportunities to gain the skills they need to enter new and successful careers and give our companies the tools they need to succeed and expand in our state."
The new minors program is a product of the combined work of the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation, the University of Rhode Island, Johnson & Wales University, Rhode Island College and Bryant University. The program builds on the groundwork of Computer Science for Rhode Island, which Governor Raimondo launched earlier this year to position the state to lead with one of the most comprehensive computer sciences initiatives in the country. Rhode Island is on track to put computer science in every public school by December 2017 to ensure that every student, at every level, has access to this critical skill as early as kindergarten.
"Many would argue that computer science courses should be required for every college student in today's digital age. We're always looking for opportunities to enhance our students' education and their real-world skills," said URI President David Dooley. "Having a foundational understanding of computer science and coding can enhance most areas of study while unlocking additional job opportunities in a student's industry of choice."
"Rhode Island College continues to identify new ways to promote learning innovation," said RIC President Frank Sanchez. "These new minors are in complete alignment with our efforts to ensure our students graduate with 21st-century skills."
"Johnson & Wales University is a pioneering institution with a focus on experiential learning," said Frank Tweedie, Dean of the Johnson & Wales University School of Engineering & Design. "These new minors are an added value to give our students the opportunity to enhance their skill set and compete in the marketplace."
"While this new minor will be a great complement for any concentration at Bryant, our entrepreneurial students will have a leg up if they have a foundation in technology and programming," said Richard Glass, Professor of Computer Information Systems at Bryant University.
"These new minors will provide thousands of students with the opportunity to gain the 21st-century skills that many of our companies look for in job candidates," said Secretary of Commerce Stefan Pryor. "Because a minor doesn't require additional tuition or time, it has the potential to increase significantly the number of students graduating with computer science training. Growing such a talent pipeline will give our students, our businesses, and our state a competitive edge."
The minors were developed with feedback from many leading Rhode Island companies. The traditional computer science degree is not required for many high-paying, entry-level development positions.
"Candidates who've completed computer science minors along with majors in other STEM fields have had great success with us," said Nick Kishfy, CEO of MojoTech. "Of course, we were thrilled when the state reached out for our input on this new, innovative program."
The new program will be fully integrated with TechHire Rhode Island, the state's tech workforce development effort that connects local employers seeking IT talent with Rhode Islanders who are skilled in various areas of tech and programming.
"The minors will include capstone work where employers can present projects for students to gain real-life experience," said Damian Ewens, director of TechHire Rhode Island. "In this manner, it provides employers with a new method for recruitment while giving students hands-on learning opportunities that they would not be able to find anywhere else."
New minors are being developed at four of the state's colleges. Students can enroll in the University of Rhode Island's new web development and enterprise programming minors now and start taking required courses in January of 2017. Rhode Island College, Johnson & Wales, and Bryant University have also designed web development minors that are expected to launch in the fall of 2017.
Thanks to Computer Science for Rhode Island courses, some Rhode Island high school students, including those the Governor and Secretary King visited at West Warwick High School today, will be able to arrive at college with up to a third of their minor already completed.
University of Rhode Island students can learn more about the new web development minor and related careers at an info session tonight at 7:00 PM Memorial Union Rm 314.