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San Diego State University and UC San Diego’s San Diego Supercomputer Center have announced the receipt of grants from the National Science Foundation totaling $1 million over the next three years. The money will be used to expand computer sciences curriculum at the universities as well as local community colleges and high schools.

The grant money is for a project called Computing Principles for All Students’ Success, or ComPASS, which aims to increase computer skills and knowledge in a broad population of students across Southern California. It’s part of a nationwide push to certify 10,000 high school teachers to instruct an advanced placement level class in computer science principles by the year 2015. Students passing these classes can often be given college credit for the coursework.

CS10K, the national program, is a response to studies and task force reports that say America’s workforce has a critical lack of well trained computer experts working in many fields.

“A solid conceptual understanding of the ideas, logic, and principles that underlie computing will benefit all of our students, not just the computer science majors,” said Leland Beck, Chair of the Computer Science Department at SDSU.

“This project strategically targets the critical elements necessary for offering stimulating and engaging college-preparatory computer science courses to all students in high school, when they are exploring directions and possibilities for their own futures,” adds Diane Baxter, director of education at the San Diego Supercomputing Center and UCSD principal investigator for the ComPASS project.

At least six community colleges and about 15 high schools in the San Diego area will offer the computer science classes in addition to SDSU and UCSD. The universities will implement a plan to allow for transfer credits for successful completion of the courses elsewhere.

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