This May, Dr. T.J. Locke sent the following message to parents to officially announce The Episcopal Academy's newest academic department: Computer Science and Engineering. Read his full message below.
It is with great excitement that I share that we are creating a brand new Computer Science and Engineering academic department.
Beginning in the 2018-2019 academic year, the Computer Science and Engineering (CS&E) Department will do more than equip our students with technological skills – it will prepare students for tomorrow's careers by providing a foundation in concepts like computational thinking, the engineering design process, digital literacy, and digital citizenship. These lessons transcend technology, and provide a basis for designing innovative solutions that can be applied across disciplines.
Creating this department was a true community effort. In May 2017, a multi-disciplinary group of 23 staff and faculty created the Computer Science Study Group to examine our current computer science and technology offerings and assess how to strengthen our programs. Over the next seven months, the group conducted site visits to cutting-edge peer schools, universities, and technology firms; spoke with leading thinkers in computer science; shared articles and studies; and surveyed EA parents, students, faculty, and alumni.
The findings, presented to our administrative team in January 2018, were significant. University professors and corporate CEOs alike expressed the need for job applicants with a foundation in not only technical skills, but also computational thinking and problem solving. Several reports found that at least 65% of the careers that our children will someday fill have not yet been invented. The vast majority of our surveyed parents, students, faculty, and alumni felt that Computer Science was critical to academic and professional success.
The group also found a sharp gender divide in the field. Women make up only 18% of computer science majors in the United States, despite the fact that computer science degrees result in some of the highest-paying careers. Even among our own Upper School students, only 9% of girls take or have taken a computer science course, compared to 26% of boys.
Our charge was clear. While our technology coaches and faculty already offer wonderful coursework and professional development opportunities, we knew that we must place even more of a priority on computer science with a comprehensive program administered by a dedicated academic department. To prepare for the launch of the CS&E Department in September 2018, we are:
- Hiring an additional CS&E faculty member.
- Offering new Upper School electives: Principles of Engineering and Principles of Computer Science and CS Engineering. These will join the existing Introduction to Programming and Digital Video Production electives.
- Running additional sections of AP Computer Science Principles and AP Computer Science A – Java.
- Reshaping some existing CS courses, such as the Middle School's Tech 2.0, to include concepts and skillsets deemed critical by the Computer Science Study Group.
- Bolstering computer science-based professional development for faculty.
- Exploring future courses, clubs, and professional development in engineering, entrepreneurship, and more.
We will entrust the leadership of this new department to our very own Matt Memmo, who has been critical in the development of our computer science offerings since 2006. In addition to co-chairing the Computer Science Study Group, Matt is a gifted teacher, advisor, and mentor who is well-loved by students for his positivity and engaging teaching style. I am confident that Matt will bring this same positivity and openness to his new role as Department Chair.
In the future, we will add even more CS&E opportunities for every division, and continually reassess our offerings to ensure that we are meeting students' needs and staying current with technological advancements.
We look forward to seeing how our CS&E Department empowers students to succeed in tomorrow's world.
The Greville Haslam Head of School