Youngone Lee was intrigued when a classmate told her about the Summer Immersion Program, which teaches girls about computer science and technology.
When Lee attended the camp this summer, the intrigue turned to fascination.
Lee, who will be a senior at Hebron High School this fall, joined 19 other students in the annual camp, which was held in Addison for the first time.
The seven-week event was a partnership between Girls Who Code (GWC), a nonprofit organization that works to close the gender gap in technology, and Bank of America. Its goal is to inspire, educate and equip girls with computing skills to prepare them for more career opportunities.
The camp took place at the Bank of America Global Technology and Operations work site.
Lee said the being surrounded by Bank of America’s technology experts gave students a chance to ask a lot of questions.
“This camp was really important because I met a lot of people,” Lee said. “Sometimes when you’re at home or at school you stay inside your own bubble. But I met so many people here I wouldn’t have otherwise met.”
During the last week students got into teams of four to create a robot based on what they learned. Lee’s team created a home security robot and an accompanying app. The main robot was equipped with sensors and five smaller robots that move in sync toward a possible intruder.
The robot includes with a camera to take video of what it sees and uploads it to an app so the homeowner can see if it’s someone who should be there.
The camp featured many of the company’s females who have been successful in technology.
“There were a lot of strong women there from the IT field, and that was very inspirational,” Lee said. “Being in a program like this is the most beneficial thing I’ve done during the summer in previous years.”
According to GWC, computing skills are the most sought-after in the U.S. job market, with demand growing three times the national average, yet the gender gap in technology and engineering is getting worse. Despite increased demand for STEM-related jobs, the share of women in the computing workforce has declined from 37 percent in 1995 to 24 percent today.
Jennifer Chandler, Dallas market president for Bank of America, said Bank of America wanted to partner with Girls Who Code because of its efforts to expand opportunities for girls.
“As part of our commitment to responsible growth, we invest in the communities we serve through programs, partnerships and initiatives that address the complex societal challenges our country faces today,” Chandler said. “One of those challenges is providing young people with access to the opportunities, resources and tools they need to start their independent financial journey, enter the workforce, and become responsible, engaged and impactful citizens. Today, 4.7 million – about 15 percent – of all young people across the country are categorized as disconnected youth who aren’t in school and don’t have a job. The Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program exposes young women to a lot of great innovation and the potential to have a career in the computer sciences field.”
Chandler said she was impressed with what the students were taught.
“This is very in-depth knowledge,” Chandler said. “They go deep into coding and robotics, and then they put that into action. It’s very hands-on.”
Chandler said the Summer Immersion Program is just one effort Bank of America has to help students. Better Money Habits, for example, teaches students about saving and spending.
“That way when they go to school they have financial literacy already in place,” Chandler said.
As far as the Summer Immersion Program, Chandler said she hopes it will return to Addison in 2020.
“I will be advocating for it to come back to Texas,” Chandler said. “We had great feedback and a lot of support.”