Capital coders 1

Students with Girls Inc. crowd around a tablet while a software engineer from Capital One examines the app they developed. Capital One hosted 32 students on their campus for a three-week program teaching the basics of programming, culminating in the students showing off their apps to Capital One experts.

Capital One's Plano campus hosted an event Thursday celebrating the achievements of several young female coders, in hopes of sparking their interests in engineering careers.

The Thursday event was the culmination of the three-week long Captial One Summer Coders Program, in which the company invited 32 sixth-, seventh- and ninth- graders to learn programming basics, design and create their own apps and show them off to Capital One's engineers and designers.

The summer program drew students from Girls Inc., which helps girls from underserved communities in Dallas learn the skills they need to be strong and economically independent adult women.

Captial One Vice President of Technology Mark Cauwels said the girls used an application called MIT App Inventor to build their own apps, ranging from games and educational apps to limited productivity tools.

“ We interact with middle school students from the local area, and we bring those students in to teach them about software engineering and logical thinking processes,” Cauwels said. “Today, they will be presenting those applications.”

Cauwels said the girls win awards including most creative, best user experience and more.

“We at Capital One focus a lot on interacting with the local community,” he said. “We're also very focused on women in technology and building inclusion in engineering.”

He said the program, created in 2014, hopes to address the growing need for science, technology, engineering and mathematics graduates in America.

“We really want to give back to the local community, and build a knowledge base of STEM,” he said. “There's a growing need for that. We want to build at that 6th to 9th grade level, kids are deciding what they're interested in.”

Cauwels said since the program's inception, the company has brought 240 students in and taught them the basics of coding.

Kirsten Bossard, director of communications and marketing for Girls Inc., said the program provides these girls an exposure to the skills required to flourish they otherwise may not get at home.

“The mission of Girls Inc. is to inspire all girls to be strong, smart and bold so that they can become healthy, economically independent young women,” Bossard said.

She said Girls Inc. also works with Capital One to provide their students with reading and financial literacy programs as well.

“We're really creating an overall girl experience,” Bossard said.

Amaris Burleson, 11 from Sidney Lanier Elementary in Dallas and Girls Inc.'s Love Field campus, said she and her team developed a game app called Food Drop. In Food Drop, a character named Jeff has to catch all the food items while avoiding non-food items within a 20 second time limit.

“I had to learn how to reset the whole thing, and how to make Jeff move and control his speed, and finding and importing image sprites,” Burleson said.

She said the program has helped guide her toward pursuing a career in animation and film.

“I know what I want to do for a living,” Burleson said.

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