Gate City, Va. – Forget spending your summer playing video games. Students involved in the Mountain Empire Community College/Regional Adult Education Summer IT Academy are actually creating their own video games and mobile Apps while earning valuable job experience and college credit.
The academy, launched through a partnership between Mountain Empire Community College and the Regional Adult Education Program, is providing hands-on learning opportunities in high-tech fields for 10 Southwest Virginia students. The program, held July 9 to August 3, is funded by a grant from the federal Workforce Investment Act and is geared toward low income, at-risk youth. Students who completed the four–week academy have earned 8 hours of college credit, a $1,100 stipend, and have completed two weeks of hands-on experience in an internship with Scott County Telephone Co-op and Scott County Public Schools. The students have utilized their skills to network classrooms and troubleshoot a variety of IT issues.
Student Curtis Edwards enthusiastically demonstrates how he programmed a mobile application game for his Android phone. While computer programming is offered at his high school in Scott County, Edwards said the advanced level of instruction and college credit in the field is only available through the academy. The academy was led by MECC Instructors Nasser Maksoud and Fred Coeburn.
“I want to get a good job,” says Edwards. “I want to go to college and take classes and major in computer science. I want to make a good living.”
Scott County Regional Adult Education Program Instructor Jan Stallard says the academy program is unique because it includes a mix of students, age 16-21, some of who are still in high school, some who are already enrolled in college and others who are working toward their GED. “The more mature students are mentoring the younger students. And it is amazing what they are learning. This program is rigorous. It’s 7 ½ hours a day of focus,” Stallard said.
“The academy is a life-changing experience for many of these students,” stated Vickie Ratliff, the Dean of Business and Information Technology at Mountain Empire Community College. “They began the program with little or no knowledge of the opportunities available in computer technology. Today they are not only aware of the opportunities, but have hands-on experience that can be applied to multiple careers,” she said. The credits they have earned give them a head-start to an Associate degree in Computer Software Specialist or Computer Networking Technology at MECC.
For more information on the Summer IT program, please contact Vickie Ratliff, MECC’s Dean of Business and Information Technology at (276) 523-6434 or Rebecca Scott, Regional Adult Education Program Manager, at 1-877 Race 2 GED (877.722.3243).