Producers of technology
High school students participate in LAU-Byblos Computer Science Summer Institute to acquire various IT skills.
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From learning programming languages to developing mobile applications 35 technology-hungry high school students enhanced their computer skills at LAU Byblos Computer Science Summer Institute organized on July2-6 by the Department of Computer Science and Mathematics.
Dr. Philippe Frossard, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences inaugurated the weeklong event by acknowledging that it was made possible by the vision and generous contributions of philanthropist Dr. Georges Harik in order to promote computer science in Lebanon.
An engineer and former Google employee, Harik’s vision is to provide young Lebanese students with the opportunity to hone their computer skills, foster creativity and think outside the box.
For six hours each day, the students are given a crash course in computer programming where they learn computer languages, applications and how to create mobile interfaces.
Dr. Haidar Harmanani, SAS-Byblos associate dean says “Creating opportunities for young people to learn about technology and to be creative is fundamental to achieving our ultimate goal of transforming our society into a technologically productive one; we need to be producers of technology, not just consumers,” he stressed.
The program included several guest lectures as well as practical lab experience led by two instructors: Fouad Kada, academic computer science administrator, and newly graduated Joseph Junior Sfeir.
Kada agrees about the importance of inspiring students to create original applications. “Although computer programming is potentially a lucrative career path to follow, it is still underappreciated—there is still work to be done in helping encourage a culture of innovation.”
The students who participated in the event relished the chance to develop their skills, “This experience has been amazing,” says 14-year-old computer whiz Elie Louis, a student at the Capuchin Fathers’ School of Batroun.
“It has been a challenging experience so far, but programming is an essential skill,” says Bahaa Zoobi, a 17-year-old from Al Iman High School.
Joanna Abdallah, a 16-year-old, is one of a handful of girls to participate in the event. The Monsif National School student acknowledged that computer programming tends to be a male-dominated field: “Some girls are not interested in programming because they have never tried it.”
Harmanani agrees that the “simple lack of exposure may be why some girls feel intimidated by programming” which makes the hosting of such an event all that much more significant and meaningful.
At the end of the week, the students submitted their self-created applications and winners were selected with prizes distributed. First prize was an IPad 3rd generation (Elie Louis from Capuchin Fathers’ School of Batroun) and second prize was an IPod touch (Chafic Najjar from Lycee Alphonse de Lamartine). In total 7 winners received LAU scholarships and six cash awards were handed out for those who earned honorable mention.
This is the second time LAU Byblos has hosted the computer science summer institute and this year saw double the number of applications.