Friday, January 4, 2013

The Texas Young Programmers Project

Computer programming is not for everyone.  I know engineers who were required to take a computer programming course in college, did not like it, and never programmed at work.  Still, programming is an activity that some young people can do very well.  Because young people in their late teens and early twenties can create significant software products and impact the national economy, we should provide assistance to young programmers.  The Texas Young Programmers Project is an effort to help young people with their efforts to learn programming, and to encourage them in their endeavors.

Indie Game: The Movie is a documentary that shares the experiences of young adults developing independent computer games.  This documentary is available for streaming on Netflix.  It is a fascinating show, but cannot be thought of as representative of how young programmers develop.  Still, computer games are an application that can appeal to young programmers.

If you lack "domain knowledge," you cannot as a programmer solve problems with software.  The Achilles heal of software development is that programmers need problems presented to them that can be solved with computer programming.  Without domain knowledge, programmers either learn more programming minutia, or learn new languages, or write computer games.  Young people need help in for form of challenging problems for their coding skills.

The University of Texas, Pan American, held a computer programming contest for high school students in February 2012.  The students had a choice of coding in C/C++ or Java in this contest.  The University of Texas, Austin, is holding a programming contest in February 2013.  The contest is by invitation only and the coding is required to be in Java.  Trinity University in San Antonio hosted a programming contest in Java for San Antonio high schools in April 2012.  Java appears to be the language of choice for high school programming.  The University Interscholastic League (UIL) also hosts computer programming contests.  Google hosts a contest for students aged 13 to 17 called Google Code-In.  The grand prize is a trip to Google headquarters in Mountain View, California.  Google Code Jam is for older students.

The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) hosts the ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest for college students.  Here is a link to a PowerPoint presentation from Dr. Ivor Page, UT Dallas, on participation in this contest:

There are programming challenges available for our young people.  They just need to get connected to the programming contests and to get advice on how to learn programming.  I have started a blog, Canright on Software and Programming, to help.  If you choose to help young people learn programming, then you too are participating in the The Texas Young Programmers Project.

This post is part of the The Texas Software Initiative.


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