A river of 10M kid coders for Ama­zon?

South Florida Sun-Sentinel Palm Beach (Sunday) - - NATION & WORLD - By Joseph Pisani Associated Press

NEW YORK — Ama­zon wants to get more kids think­ing about be­com­ing com­puter engi­neers.

The com­pany has launched a pro­gram that aims to teach more than 10 mil­lion stu­dents a year how to code. Ama­zon said it will pay for sum­mer camps, teacher train­ing and other ini­tia­tives to ben­e­fit kids and young adults from low-in­come fam­i­lies who might not have learned to code oth­er­wise. It hopes the pro­grams spur more black, His­panic and fe­male stu­dents to study com­puter sci­ence.

Ama­zon de­clined to put a price tag on the pro­gram, called Ama­zon Fu­ture En­gi­neer, but said it will take up a big chunk of the $50 mil­lion that it com­mit­ted to spend on com­puter sci­ence ed­u­ca­tion last year.

Other cor­po­ra­tions, in­clud­ing Mi­crosoft and Face­book, have also com­mit­ted cash to bring cod­ing to schools, which could ul­ti­mately ben­e­fit the com­pa­nies. There’s a short­age of com­puter engi­neers, and teach­ing stu­dents to code will en­sure a pipe­line of fu­ture ta­lent to hire.

Jeff Wilke, Ama­zon’s chief ex­ec­u­tive of world­wide con­sumer, said he hopes some of the stu­dents who go through the Ama­zon Fu­ture En­gi­neer pro­gram will work for the com­pany, cre­at­ing skills for its Alexa voice as­sis­tant or pro­gram­ming its de­liv­ery drones. But he said other com­pa­nies are in­creas­ingly re­ly­ing on tech­nol­ogy, and cod­ing has be­come a valu­able skill to more em­ploy­ers.

“We’re pretty con­fi­dent that know­ing how to code will be as im­por­tant as know­ing how to read for the jobs of the fu­ture,” Wilke said.

Ama­zon Fu­ture En­gi­neer will of­fer kids in k i n d e rg a r t e n through eighth grade free sum­mer camps and after-school pro­grams that will take place in Ama­zon of­fices around the coun­try. Ama­zon em­ploy­ees will vol­un­teer, and on­line classes, les­sons and games will be pro­vided by Ama­zon’s part­ners, such as Code.org and Cod­ing with Kids. The com­pany also said it plans to pay for on­line train­ing for teach­ers at 2,000 low­in­come high schools around the coun­try to teach to teach in­tro­duc­tory and col­lege-level ad­vance place­ment com­puter sci­ence classes. In ad­di­tion, it will of­fer col­lege stu­dents schol­ar­ships and in­tern­ships. Schools, teach­ers and par­ents will be able to ap­ply through Ama­zonFu­tureEngi­neer.com.

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