Academy of Engineering and Green Technology Introduces Cutting-Edge Mobile App Course

SPOTLIGHT on EXCELLENCE November 2015

Academy of Engineering and Green Technology Introduces Cutting-Edge Mobile App Course

Karen Ondrick, Chief Connector of Community Partnerships at Lenovo joins, left to right, Lenovo's Thomss McCusker, AoEGT students, Andrea Comer, CBIA's Education Director, Ish Ats and Henry Veloza of Lenova, and Mobile Apps course teacher, Michael McCausland.
 
Christmas arrived early this year for students at Hartford’s Academy of Engineering and Green Technology and 19 other schools nationwide.
In mid-October, the students unpacked a free shipment of high-end ThinkPad laptop computers and Android model YOGA tablets to implement a new curriculum for their course in developing mobile applications.
The curriculum was designed by Lenovo, the world’s second largest distributor of personal computers, in collaboration with the National Academy Foundation (NAF), and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which created the software program for building the apps.
The Academy of Engineering and Green Technology, located in Hartford Public High School, received a 2015 U.S. Green Ribbon School award for its innovative environmental efforts. The academy specializes in preparing students for career opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Over the past three years, the school’s students have designed, built, and transported solar and wind generators for three villages in Nepal.  
 
The mobile app curriculum is designed to increase student interest in STEM, and includes lessons in business management, entrepreneurship, product development, and marketing. Students will work in teams, each of which must develop an idea for a new app and a business plan. The 20 students taking the class are also expected to do all the coding work that will bring the apps to life.
NAF, which chose the schools employing the new curriculum, is a national network of over 600 career-themed academies. These schools open doors to underserved high school students by creating courses and learning environments that connect directly to the business world and serve as a route to college. NAF also helps establish advisory boards of business leaders and educators for each academy, and secures paid internships and mentoring opportunities for academy students. More than 90 percent of NAF students graduate high school and four out of five of them go on to college.
 
As an additional incentive to spark students’ enthusiasm for the new course work, the students in each of the Lenovo Scholar Network schools will compete with each other to create the best all around mobile app, and will vie for recognition at NAF’s annual conference in Florida next July.
“Our collaboration with companies like Lenovo supports our goal of graduating more career-ready students from college, particularly in the growing STEM industries,” said J.D. Hoye, president of NAF. “The Lenovo Scholar Network is a prime example of how businesses and education can work together to provide students with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in today’s fast-paced world.”
 “I’m glad we can offer this opportunity to the students,” said Academy teacher Michael McCausland. “When I see how hard the students are working, the looks on their faces when they struggle with something, and the pride they show when they finally figure it out, it’s worth it.”
The school’s principal, Michael Maziarz, is also enthusiastic about the class. “As a NAF school we are committed to offering a rigorous curriculum coupled with hands-on, project-based learning opportunities.  Our students are able to delve deep in to STEM skills and concepts and apply their learning to real-world problems and work-based learning experiences like our internship program.
 
“Computer science represents a high-need field,” added Maziarz, “and is a high interest subject to our students.  These opportunities are not possible without the strong relationships with our business and industry partners.  This Lenovo grant exemplifies those relationships and the positive impact they have on our students.  Thanks to Lenovo, our students have received technology that is allowing them to work and learn at the highest level and to compete nationally through their Computer Science Principles Mobile App Building course.  The skills and concepts they will master will put them on the forefront of computer science knowledge.  We could not be more appreciative of Lenovo, NAF, and the Connecticut Business and Industry Association for helping us bring this opportunity to our students.”
The Academy of Engineering and Green Technology is one of five NAF academies in the Hartford Public Schools system. The others are: Pathways Academy of Technology, the Academy of Nursing and Health Sciences, High School Inc. and the Hartford Culinary Arts Academy.
The Lenovo Scholar Network, which expanded to serve 30 schools this year, is designed to encourage greater interest among underserved high school students in STEM subjects while providing them with high-tech skills to succeed in the 21st century.  More information can be found at http://www.lenovoscholars.com/

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