BBCC program prepares graduates for workforce
MOSES LAKE, Feb 21, 2013 (Columbia Basin Herald - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Many of the growing careers of the future will require knowledge of SQLs, DOMs, LANs and WENs and beyond, not to mention Windows. And Cisco. Helping students master the techniques and language necessary to make a career in computing is the goal of the revived computer science program at Big Bend Community College.
Enrollment for fall quarter was 44 students, and 50 people signed up for winter quarter. "Pretty good," said program director Mary Shannon. But administrators want it to keep growing. "Could we use more students I'd love to have more students," Shannon said.
The program was discontinued in 2009, after instructors retired and the college faced budget cuts. Administrators opted to shut down the program and conduct a thorough review, Shannon said.
The reviewers talked to prospective students and prospective employers. "It (the review) demonstrated a need," Shannon said. The reviewers concluded that prospective students and employers alike wanted classes that trained them for jobs or that could be transferred to other institutions, she said.
The college received a substantial grant in 2010, Shannon said, and part of the mission was to restart the program with those goals in mind. The first phase started in fall 2012, with additional classes scheduled for fall 2013.
Because it's a computer science program, there was always the intention to make some of the classes available via computer, Shannon said. "Everything we do in here is some kind of combination of traditional and online instruction."
Most classes meet in a traditional room for some of the weekly sessions and the rest of the class online, Shannon said. That mix of traditional instruction and the flexibility of online classes appeals to many students, she said.
Winter quarter classes include designing and managing databases, designing websites and learning to work with the dominant operating systems and programs in the industry, including Cisco, Java and Windows. The goal is to ensure students graduate with the certifications they need to go to work, to qualify for additional training or transfer to a four-year college.
"The hottest job today is a software developer. I get job announcements all the time," Shannon said. Companies need programmers, software testers, network administrators, "troubleshooting and problem solving," people who can operate complex computer networks. "I don't think people really understand how pervasive IT is," Shannon said.
Class instruction includes designing and maintaining programs and the servers themselves. Prospective students need basic computer skills, Shannon said. "No hunt and peck on the keyboard."
An understanding of and interest in math also is helpful, she said. "Programming languages are really critical thinking skills. And that usually translates into math. Math is important,"
People who want more information about the computer science program can contact Shannon at 509-793-2056 or email@example.com.
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